Alicia Parkway & Santa Margarita Turf Replacement Project

From parks and trails to slopes and greenbelts, landscape is SAMLARC's largest asset, with more than 300 acres across the community. The plant palette includes combinations of California native plants, colorful ornamentals, Mediterranean-climate plants, and trees. SAMLARC takes pride in maintaining healthy plants throughout the community, but as California’s drought mitigation measures tighten, SAMLARC is pursuing new ways to sustain a beautiful and hardy landscape environment.

In 2015, the SAMLARC Board of Directors launched a Drought Mitigation Plan in response to California’s water reduction mandates. The Plan includes strategic landscape service regimens, implementing drip irrigation systems, replacing nonfunctional turf grass, and leveraging grants and rebates from various water agencies. These last two objectives fall under the SAMLARC Turf Conversion Program.

SAMLARC will begin its next phase of the Turf Conversion Program in May 2024, focusing on portions Alicia and Santa Margarita Parkways. Nonfunctional turf grass typically requires copious amounts of irrigation. However, replacing the turf with lower water needs plantings as well as plants that acclimatize to our local weather will reduce water usage by 50% and maintenance costs by 66%. Not only does this minimize water waste, but it also fosters a resilient ecosystem adapted to the region's climate. This project is anticipated to be funded through grants and rebates from the Municipal Water District of Orange County, with no cost to SAMLARC.

SAMLARC has completed several turf conversions throughout the last 9 years, including Camino Montana, Via Arribo/Via Regressos (2015), Arroyo Vista Street (2022), and Altisima Street (2023). Arroyo Vista Street and the Via Arribo/Via Regressos areas are excellent examples of what the Alicia and Santa Margarita Parkway projects will look like once the landscape has fully matured (generally about 2 years after planting). 

Project Details 

  • Plant Palette: The curated plant palette is comprised of waterwise, Southern California-compatible plants. These include Acacia Redolens ‘Desert Carpet,’ Carissa Macrocarpa, Lantana, Toyon, and Society Garlic. Water-saving trees such as Crepe Myrtle, California Live Oak, and California Sycamores may also be incorporated into the designs.
  • Irrigation: The current spray irrigation system will be converted to a drip system to provide water directly to the plant roots, reducing the amount of water lost to evaporation.
  • Process: The project will convert approximately 41,000 sq. ft. of nonfunctional turf along SAMLARC’s property on Alicia Parkway and Santa Margarita Parkway. There will be no impact to sidewalk access, and we ask that individuals and pets stay out of the impacted landscape areas. The turf grass will be removed through a combination of agricultural herbicides and physical uprooting.  Over the next few weeks, the grass will stop growing and turn yellow and brown. After the soil has been cleared for replanting, a new irrigation system and a combination of seedlings and young plants will be installed. The process is anticipated to span 6-8 weeks, with the plants maturing over time.

For questions about this project, contact Debbie Melberg, Operations Administrator, at