We provide you the steps that SELVA will undertake in converting your lawn to an EcoGarden. This will help you to better understand the process. If you wish to save money and are able to undertake the garden conversion yourself, you may use the how to videos and step by step instructions below to install your own California Friendly Landscape. SELVA EcoGardens landscaping program is available to help you through any or all of these steps. To request consultation or installation services, fill out this form: Inquiry Form

*The following information is made available through collaboration with LADWP, Surfrider Foundation, and the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance.


Step by Step Instructions



Apply for the rebate

Los Angeles and Santa Monica are currently offering rebates for lawn and parkway conversions. Always check their websites to confirm rebate amount and availability. Allow 2-4 weeks for approval.


For Los Angeles:

  • Go to SoCalWaterSmart

  • Highlight the Rebates tab at the top of the page then under Available Rebates click on Turf Removal.


For Santa Monica:

  • Go to Santa Monica OSE

  • Highlight the Rebates tab at the top of the page and then choose Downspout Redirect.


Think about your landscape design

Create your own design or hire someone to help.  Think about how you can capture the water that flows on your property, for example by redirecting downspouts from your roof into a rain garden!

  • Plan your garden project

  • How to Build a Rain Garden

  • The Watershed Approach

  • Ocean Friendly Gardens

  • LADWP California Friendly Landscaping Resources



  • California Native Plants for the Garden, Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O’Brien

  • Ocean Friendly Gardens Guide 

  • Creating and Caring for your Native Plant Garden: Maintenance Guide
    from Tree of Life Nursery

  • Planting + Plant Selection Guides from Theodore Payne Foundation


Plan the details


SELVA, working with designers Tricia O’Connell and Elisabeth Weinstein, has created four landscape templates that use California native plants local to Los Angeles.  We are available to help you fit one of these templates to your garden.  You may also download them for your personal use.

  • Modern Native Design

  • Habitat Garden Design

  • Low Maintenance Garden Design

  • Traditional Garden Design


If you are interested in capturing rainwater for reuse, read more on rain barrels or cisterns. With cisterns you can capture large quantities of water to reuse in your garden!  

  • Rain Barrel info

  • How cisterns work

  • Rain Barrels/Cistern info and resource

  • Rebates


Research your plants

If you plan to do your design on your own- while you wait for your rebate start thinking about the types of plants you would like.  Choose all California natives if possible, as this will give you wildlife habitat benefits, in addition to water conservation.  We also recommend natives that are local to Los Angeles, as they are best adapted to this climate, and they provide the best habitat for local wildlife and pollinators!

  • Calscape - you can input your address to see which plants are native to your area!

  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden Plant List

  • Theodore Payne Foundation and Nursery

  • California Native Plant Society

  • LADWP Plant List

  • Tree of Life: www.CaliforniaNativePlants.com


3 weeks prior - Prepare to work

Once you have received your rebate approval you will need to set a timeline for your project.  


If removing a lawn, you will need to rent a lowboy dumpster for the debris. Plan to have it delivered two days before the start of your project.  Continue to water the area to make removal easier.

  • Approved haulers for City of Santa Monica


You will need to apply for a permit from the city you live in to have the dumpster parked in the street.

  • For LA contact Bureau of Street Services >> Choose New Application tab.

  • For Santa Monica contact Public Works Dept


Start finding friends and family to help you on your work days. Make it a party!


You may want to do the lawn removal and sheet mulching one day/weekend and the planting a couple weeks later.  It is good for the mulch to start doing its work ahead of time.  


2 weeks prior

Before you dig, you will need to find out where important pipes and utility cables are.  


Contact DigAlert - a free online service that will alert your utilities to come out and flag or mark where you need to be cautious about digging.


Order mulch. Below are a few resources, one free and two pay.  Know where you will want to have it delivered. Driveways are best.

  • Chip Drop

  • Cal Blends Soils

  • Soil Direct

  • Soil & Sod Depot 818-686-6445 (Pacoima)


If removing a lawn, you will need to reserve a sod cutter. You may also need a truck or van to transport it.

  • Quality Equipment Rentals - sod cutter


If you don’t want mud tracked into your house, you may want to consider renting a port-a-potty.


Finalize your design and plant list.


Check on your permit if it hasn’t been approved.


1 week prior

Order your plants.  Now the fun begins!

  • CNPS Nursery referrals  In LA area, at present time

  • Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants

  • Las Pilitas Nursery: www.LasPilitas.com





  • How to sheet mulch

  • Sheet Mulching Video by Shruti Shankar

  • Buy any tools you need and builders paper for your sheet mulching.  Any hardware store, Home Depot, etc.


Confirm any deliveries (dumpster, mulch, potty).


Shop for food for your workday volunteers.


Keep watering well.


Workday #1

Pick up sod cutter


Cut and haul sod to dumpster


Dig out by hand around edges to be sure to get all the roots


Dig your trenches and swale for your rain garden


Lay your sheet mulch


Install your irrigation (this can also be done after the plants are installed for better placement)

Water, water water the mulch.


Workday #2

Install your plants


How to plant


Install irrigation (if desired)


Unless you have the time and desire to hand water (best choice), you will want to install a drip irrigation system.  It is easy to adapt to a current irrigation system.  We recommend it be installed after the plants so that you can be sure not to have it too close to the base of the plants.  Just pull the mulch back and lay the tubes under the mulch.


Sprinkler to drip retrofit


Converting to drip irrigation video


Resource for product and info - they can probably recommend an installer if you need help.


Enjoy your garden!

Maintaining your garden


Check out our guide to the upkeep of your sustainable garden. The first year is crucial for plant establishment. Also, you'll need to do some occassional weeding and maintenance, but it will be worth it!