In case you haven't heard, California is in the midst of a record-shattering drought. Reservoir conditions across the state show current levels well below historic averages. In January, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency, and water restrictions were issued to help ensure that residents have safe drinking water.

One of the best ways to save potable water for drinking is to stop using it for landscape irrigation. Lush green lawns require a lot of water to maintain their aesthetic appeal, particularly grasses that are not native to the area. According to the EPA, as much as 60% of urban fresh water use is to maintain healthy lawns.

Some California homeowners are giving up grass in favor of landscape designs that require less water and effort to maintain. Xeriscaping refers to the practice of landscaping with native or drought-tolerant plants and other elements, such as gravel, stone and mulch, to reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water. Now, California residents who are ready to part ways with their lawns are getting a helping hand from landscaping companies.

Some landscaping companies are offering free lawn removal services. As one landscaper explained, if his customers wanted to do something good by cutting back their water consumption, he would do something good for them and remove their lawns. For homeowners who want to start fresh with native and drought-resistant plants, these companies will take out a grassy lawn at no charge and replace it with something better suited to the drought conditions.

Although the cost to install new xeriscaping plants and elements can be expensive, it is a cost that homeowners can recoup in savings on their water bills or through rebate programs. To replace a thirsty lawn with xeriscaping, homeowners could save anywhere from 30-80% off their water bills. Some counties in California are making lawn removal a more attractive option by offering rebates and incentives to residents who make the switch. One landscaping company is offering free lawn removal as well as free xeriscape installation in exchange for the right to claim eligible rebates under the Los Angeles County program.

If you're a California resident with a water-intensive lawn, now is a great time to look into local xeriscaping offers and municipal incentive programs. You could save a lot of water and a lot of money, too. Not to mention the time you'll save on a landscape that requires little to no maintenance.

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