The City of Santa Monica is offering competitive landscape grants up to $20,000 to help property owners move away from landscaping that drains resources like water and petroleum, and pollutes, to a landscape that reduces such impacts and mimics native flora and fauna.

To qualify for a grant, a landscaping plan must include water-efficient irrigation, plus one or more of the following — California native plants, water-efficient plants, storm-water management systems, “graywater” systems, and/or other innovative water-saving features.

Since 2005, local homeowners, apartment owners, businesses and schools have been awarded more than $400,000 in landscaping grants, city officials said.

Applications for the current grant cycle will be accepted through March 27th. Applications are available at www.smepd .org/, or (866) 728-3229.

Many homes in Santa Monica use more than 200 gallons of water each day — the equivalent of five bathtubs — to irrigate landscape, most of it simply running off onto sidewalks, streets and alleys, city officials said.

Research shows that planting Santa Monica-friendly plants and converting traditional high-volume sprinkler irrigation systems to water-efficient systems can save up to 80 percent of water use and 60 percent of time and costs associated with maintenance.

The landscape grant program is one of 15 programs the city offers to save water and reduce ocean pollution. Managing water demand through implementing sustainable landscaping practices will help further the goal of reducing citywide water use 20 percent by the year 2010, city officials said.

Information, www.smepd.org/ or (866) 728-3229.

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