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April 14, 2018

Removing Grass - The Best Investment Ever?

Here at Fiscally Free, we've made a lot of investments over the years. Most have performed well, but there's one recent investment that may just be our best--removing the grass in our front yard.

I understand if you're not familiar with turf removal as an investment. It's not a common one, and it may only apply to those of us in California, but it is shaping up to have a spectacular return for us. We've already doubled our initial investment, and we stand to collect significant "dividends" as long as we own our house. Unbelievable, right? Let me explain.

Here in California, there's a pretty significant water shortage and the government is taking steps to encourage conservation. For most homes here, the majority of the water used goes to outdoor landscaping, and lawns in particular. That's why the State of California and some cities are actually paying people, like us, to remove grass.

Our yard before the (patchy) grass removal.
The program provides homeowners with a rebate of $2 per square foot of grass removed (up to $2,000), as long as it's replaced with drought tolerant landscaping. We removed about 894 square feet of grass, so we collected an extremely satisfying $1,788 from the government.

Unfortunately, that wasn't pure profit. As mentioned above, we had to replace the grass with an appropriate alternative, and that wasn't free. However, we did everything ourselves, so it wasn't terribly expensive. We spent about $900 on materials. We also had to do to a pretty significant amount of work, but that isn't a big deal for us "retired" folks.

So if we look at this as an investment, we put in $900 and got $1,788 in return. Just about doubling your money is one hell of a short term investment, but that's not all. The reduced water usage resulting from this project will forever lower our water bill and pay us "dividends" that I estimate at about $500 per year for as long as we live in our house. That dividend will even increase as our water rates go up. On top of all that, this investment probably raised the value of our home several thousand dollars. Possibly best of all, I now have less grass to mow, saving me from an annoying task for years to come. As you can see, this was a great investment in many ways.

When we run the numbers, our grass removal investment returned 97% over a couple months and will continue to pay an annual 56+% dividend forever. The biggest downside to this investment is the hard $2,000 cap. If you know of another safe investment with similar returns, please contact us immediately and share.

The other downside of this investment was the work required. The first step was to physically remove all the grass, which was complicated by an intricate network of tree roots.
Honestly, this was miserable work.

Once the grass was gone, we wanked out the sad old bushes.
We used our truck quite a bit for this project.

I managed to destroy our super heavy duty shovel on this project. Luckily, it had a lifetime warranty so we got a free replacement.

We eventually had quite a lot of debris to haul away. To do that we borrowed a friend's trailer.
You can see one of several loads of rocks we collected in the truck.

We also used that trailer to pick up a load of mulch. We were very thankful for its dump function.

Upon completion, we had a beautiful yard that not only looks better, but will save lots of water going forward.

Have you made any unconventional investments that paid off spectacularly? Please share in the comments.

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