Worn, splotchy grass is a pet peeve for long-time Las Vegas resident Kathryn Harper, who has been a property manager since 2005. When she added a number of mature commercial properties to her management portfolio a few years ago, she realized the business properties needed a facelift to meet modern aesthetics her clients and their customers expect.
“When these older properties were built, the grass looked great. But 30 years later, you’re looking at blotchy, dry grass. It’s an eyesore, and if anything is more unappealing to customers, it’s a tired landscape,” said Harper, a property manager for Gatski Commercial Real Estate. “Grass is a huge water and money sucker. It doesn’t look good, and it makes properties look old.”
Three years ago, Harper started looking into options to help update the properties in her portfolio and replace the worn grass with something more appealing. She learned about the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) Water Smart Landscapes rebate, which offers up to $3 a square foot of grass replaced with a drip-irrigated landscape to qualifying properties. (Some restrictions apply.)
“It’s a flawless way to transform a property into a beautiful thing to look at,” Harper said, adding that the water bills for the six properties she manages that participated in the SNWA rebate have dropped from about $1,400 a month to $400. The businesses also saw their landscape maintenance costs reduced by 75 percent. “My clients are more profitable because they’ve been able to reduce these costs.”
According to Harper, the SNWA makes the process simple and provides helpful resources, including a list of Water Smart Contractors who can transform the tired grass areas into an attractive landscape.
“The contractors know about the rebate program and what’s required—the number of plants per square feet, the irrigation system components, etc. They have it all figured out,” Harper said, adding that for each landscape upgrade project she bid out the project and developed a proposal. “With the rebate, these conversions cost next to nothing.”
The end result has been a modernized look with lower water bills and maintenance costs at each of the properties that have participated in the rebate. The landscape conversions also ensure Harper’s clients are in compliance with a new law that takes effect at the end of 2026.
The law is aimed at increasing water efficiency by prohibiting the use of water delivered by SNWA’s member agencies to irrigate decorative grass in streetscapes, medians, parking lots and other areas where it is used for aesthetics and not recreational purposes. When fully enacted, the law will save billions of gallons of water each year.
“Businesses and HOAs play and important role in protecting Southern Nevada’s water supply, which has been seriously threatened by more than 20 years of drought,” said J.C. Davis, SNWA Enterprise Conservation Manager. “Our community will be facing shortage conditions for the foreseeable future, and we need all Southern Nevadans to step up conservation efforts to protect our water supply.”
Despite the new law essentially requiring the removal of nonfunctional turf, the SNWA continues to offer the Water Smart Landscapes (WSL) cash incentive to help cover the costs of replacing grass. While incentives are available, business owners, HOA boards and property managers may apply for the WSL rebate on snwa.com.
“There are a lot of property owners applying for these incentive dollars, so we’re urging everyone to begin the process earlier rather than later,” Davis said. He noted that the rebate applications from HOAs and commercial properties are increasing dramatically, which may drive up costs for plant materials and landscape installation services as the deadline to comply with the new law nears.
Find out how you can reduce your business’ operating costs and take advantage of current cash incentives by contacting one of SNWA’s business experts at 702-862-3740 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear Harper discuss the benefits of replacing grass with a drip-irrigated landscape on the Water Smarts Podcast episode titled “Business Facelift.”