Dead lawn at rental property

Today, my tenant moved out and I found that the front yard lawn was completely dead.
When they moved in, it was in good condition.
I set sprinkler set up a year ago (verified a few times by visiting in the mornings), but, the tenant said it never worked.
I have gardener coming every 2 weeks and unfortunately, neither tenant nor gardener reported anything on lawn issue to me.
After seeing this issue, I decided to convert front yard lawn into drought tolerant garden.
I wonder if I can ask my previous tenant to pay some portion in this case.
BTW, I got a quote of $3800 for about 300-400 sqft front yard lawn. Is this reasonable range? It will be mostly mulch (wood bark). If anyone knows good landscaping company at the reasonable cost, please, let me know.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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If the timing system is connected to a GFCI socket, it has to manually restart whenever there is a blackout. I am surprised gardener didn’t do anything. My gardener for the two rentals, constantly adjust the timing system appropriately depending on the season.

Lawn normally don’t die, just go dormant. Watering daily for a few days should wake up the lawn.

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Thanks for the reply.
That makes sense.
Let me try to water for 2 weeks and see.

Try with this Ruschia. Amazing PET FRIENDLY No-Mow Lawn Substitute - Ruschia 'Nana' (Dwarf Carpet of Stars) - YouTube


You can get Santa Clara valley water to pay you to convert your lawn to drought tolerant landscape.

Search for valley water rebate.

I converted a portion of my backyard this way. About 1500 sq ft. I paid a landscaping crew 700$ to prep, plant some drought tolerant plants, install landscape fabric and cover with mulch.

Your quote of 3800 to convert your lawn seems high.


Whoa this is cool. Have you done it personally? Does it grow well here?

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Problem is this needs to be re-done every few years.

I started doing more research and saw the same. Replace 3-4 years, but this follow up video seems to state otherwise.

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I agree - if the lawn is established more than a year, it may come back especially since it hasn’t gone through another summer. You may want to add some seed.

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Also, I’d fire your gardener. They should’ve said something!!! Clearly they were just taking in money for doing nothing.

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That’s what i am going to do.
He didn’t do his job at all.

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Quick update here.
I listed my rental on 27th and showed the property yesterday. I was a bit concerned about dead lawn but people don’t seem to care at all. Anyway, I got multiple applications and chose the tenants who can move in right away and is willing to do 2 year lease. I am glad that I found well qualified new tenants so quickly like this but at the same time, a bit surprised to see how many people are desperate to find the rental homes this year. I also increased the rent about 10% from the last year (yet it was slightly lower than the market value according to my crude analysis on anecdotal data from zillow).
This is good time for landlords but probably tough time for tenants.
I also hired new gardener and decided to fix the lawn instead of re-installing.
Thanks everyone for the great tips!
Hope my information is also useful to people here!


Does anyone here have Ruschia? I’m planning to install a lawn in a 90% shaded area (as in it gets sun in the early morning, but not the rest of the day), but I would consider this, but it needs to with stand putting tables and chairs on…

A neighbor was telling me that ground cover instead of grass encourages rodents, as it provides nesting and hiding places for them. not sure…I need to do more research


Just my 2 cents:

  1. Drive by Visit every 3 months or whenever you shop near by your rental home, see lawns how it is maintained (Mandatory).

  2. Include in your rental contract that tenant needs to water the plant…etc

  3. Strictly inform the Gardener to look out for grass green, inform you any water spills or garden issue. Make sure they are aware “without Garden, there is no work for them”.

  4. Costco has grass seeds (now selling), buy them, spread them in lawn, water 10 minutes 3 times a week. You will get the grass back.

  5. To avoid rodents, spread crub (home depot or lowes) killer May and July - i.e. 2 times a year. Same way, you need to schedule fertilizer (again Costco has) 3 months or 6 months once.

  6. Smart sprinkler control (wifi) Costco sells, Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller $150, if you fix it and ask the WIFI connection from tenant, you can change the watering schedule remotely. Santa Clara county sponsors such smart metering (to reduce water usage) freely upon your plan approval. This controller is very excellent, drastically reduces water usage. Best one, identifies rain ahead, stops watering, wind ahead, stops…etc. Setting up takes time and energy, but once done, reduces costs heavily.

  7. Ask your gardener to send pictures of grass every month or quarterly. This way, they need to show your green pictures. If not, you can catch them, why…etc.

  8. Whatever you spend is tax deductible on rental income.


I think there’s a conflict or confusion between having the tenant water or have responsibility for the garden and having a gardener. If there’s a gardener, the gardener is taking orders directly from the landlord, not the tenant, to do particular things to the property and the tenant really has no control of the situation. I’ve BTDT and it’s hugely frustrating as a tenant to watch the gardener essentially butcher trees that were healthy and cut back trees that provided me a nice view of greenery out the window, but that gardener’s orders from the landlord were to keep the trees small and away from the house, and the landlord was happy to keep the yard a barren dirt lot.

I think what you want to do is to tell the tenant your expectations for what the gardener is supposed to do and that if something seems “broken” or the gardener doesn’t seem to be doing their job, that you expect the tenant to notify you just like you expect the tenant to tell you if the disposal stops working or the toilet is leaking, but you probably don’t want them fixing it on your behalf. That puts the burden of sprinklers working or the grass being mowed on the gardener, and the burden of double checking that the gardener is doing their job on the tenant. But asking the tenant to do the gardener’s job may put them at odds with each other.

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Agree that the responsible party in this situation is my pregious gardener.
I added “tenant must report any damage to the property including but not limited to ***, dying lawn and broken sprinkler.”
Other tenants reported sprinkler issue whenever they found one, hence I was surprised to see how the front yard lawn turned brown completely and he never mentioned anything to me.
It turned out that someone shut off the valve on the pipe to the frontyard sprinkler. Can’t find who did….
Anyway, I am running sprinkler again and they look greener than before. I hired new gardener who has been taking care of my primary. Hope this time it gets better. I will drive by once a month probably. I just didn’t want to bother tenants but maybe just driving by should be OK.

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the other issue is that the price of water is going up. So the tenant has to pay more to water, so its a bigger and bigger cost.

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Understood your point.
I have debated on this point as well but the lawn area is pretty small. It’s less than 1/5th of the lawn area in my primary home(yes, the lawn in my primary is actually another problem for me…) Besides, the rental property is on cul-de-sac and all neighbors maintain their front yard very well. Hence, I decided to keep it.
Once the lawn is restored then I will ask the new gardener to reduce the frequency of sprinkler.

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