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Professionals trained in different aspects of sustainable landscaping can help you ensure the success of your project. Photo: Water Authority

Getting Help From Landscaping Professionals

The perfect time to plan your new beautiful, livable and WaterSmart landscape is in summer because fall is the ideal time to plant a garden in this Mediterranean climate we all enjoy. The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series and related educational programs are a great way to gather the skills needed to make a lawn transformation happen. The four class series, which includes one-on-one design help from local design professionals, is currently enrolling for July locations in Central San Diego and Escondido.

Register for Free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Classes:

Escondido – Saturday mornings July 13, 20, 27 & August 3

San Diego (Mission Hills) – Wednesday evenings July 10, 17, 24 & 31

Many homeowners are eager to create a beautiful new sustainable landscape on their own, with guidance from organizations like the San Diego County Water Authority. But sometimes it’s a smart idea to call on professionals trained in different aspects of the watershed approach to landscaping. With a little help, you can ensure the success of your project.

Assessment organizations including site assessment and testing, various measuring services, surveyors, soil testing services and even Google Maps are available. Property measuring and survey companies can develop more detailed site plans with elevations, siting of trees and landscape amenities.

Planning and design professionals can help you develop a working plan and budget for your landscaping. The plan should include drawings, resource lists, and an outline of the techniques needed to implement the plan. Landscape designers and architects can help you create a conceptual design. Working with a licensed professional is recommended if you have hillsides and slopes, or complicated structures.

Landscape installation and construction professionals are licensed contractors who specialize in building landscape, and can work on all aspects of a sustainable landscape plan. You may be able to install your own garden, but if you get stuck you can call upon the expertise of an experienced pro who carries all the necessary insurance and is knowledgeable about permitting requirements.

Rainwater catchment specialists include people certified by the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) to design and install rainwater capture systems. These pros can bring specialized expertise to your project, particularly if it involves installation of an active capture system such as a cistern. The water savings you achieve can offer you a solid return on investment.

Irrigation system consultants include people with certification by an EPA WaterSense ® organization to provide irrigation system auditing, design, and maintenance. They can help you improve the efficiency of your irrigation system. The Irrigation Association, California Landscape Contractors Association Water Managers, Qualified Water Efficient Landscapers, and G3 Watershed Wise Landscape Professionals all provide searchable lists of qualified people.

Plant selection specialists include your local retail nursery and garden center, native plant societies, Master Gardeners, and professional gardeners. Learn from them, and do your homework to select plants that are both climate appropriate and locally native to your area, and you will be rewarded with a better understanding and appreciation of your garden as it evolves over the years.

Maintenance of sustainable landscapes requires an understanding of the watershed approach to landscaping and water management. Even if you eliminate the need to mow a lawn, there remains the need for fine pruning, irrigation tune-ups, cleaning and checking water retention devices, and soil building. Maintenance people must have the know-how to implement mulching, basic irrigation adjustments, and care of native plants.

Certified arborists are specialists trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. Find qualified professionals at the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and the American Society of Consulting Arborists (ASCA).

Take advantage of the public education provided by your local water district, various nonprofit organizations, and the San Diego County Water Authority. Classes are often free of charge. For more information, visit WaterSmartSD.org.


This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Westland Water District Denies Violating Any State Law Over Potential Raising Of Shasta Dam

A California water district is disputing claims made in lawsuit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra that it is violating state laws over a dam project. Westland Water District, which covers Fresno and Kings counties, was responding to the lawsuit filed over the Shasta Dam, the potential heightening of which the attorney general strongly opposes. In the lawsuit, Becerra claims the district is moving forward with the proposal to heighten the dam, which opponents claim will cause environmental damage to the protected McCloud River. Violations of the Public Resources Code are alleged.

Effort To Allow Electricity From Large Dams To Count As Renewable Energy In California Fails To Pass

A controversial effort to broaden California’s definition of renewable energy has fizzled out. The proposal would have allowed electricity from a large dam in the Central Valley to count the same as solar and wind. Under a law signed last year by former Gov. Jerry Brown aimed at reducing smog and greenhouse gas emissions, utilities in California are required to produce 60 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Combination Of Water Scarcity And Inflexible Demand Puts World’s River Basins At Risk

Nearly one-fifth of the world’s population lives in a stressed water basin where the next climate change-driven incident could threaten access to an essential resource for agriculture, industry and life itself, according to a paper by University of California, Irvine researchers and others, published today in Nature Sustainability. The study’s authors analyzed trends in global water usage from 1980 to 2016, with a particular focus on so-called inflexible consumption, the curtailment of which would cause significant financial and societal hardship. Those uses include irrigating perennial crops, cooling thermal power plants, storing water in reservoirs, and quenching the thirst of livestock and humans.

OPINION: A Political Deal Comes Full Circle

It was late one night 40 years ago and Gov. Jerry Brown’s most important piece of legislation was in trouble. Brown wanted the Legislature to approve a 42-mile-long “peripheral canal” to carry water around the environmentally fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, thus closing the last major gap in the massive state water system that had been the proudest achievement of his father, ex-Gov. Pat Brown. The canal authorization bill, however, was stuck in the state Senate Finance Committee. Twelve of its 13 members were evenly divided and the 13th, a cantankerous Democrat from San Jose named Alfred Alquist, wasn’t even in attendance.

Energy Storage Deployments Double *And* Triple In First Quarter

The headlines are a bit easier to write when the growth is significant. Last year we got to say things like residential solar grew nine and ten times over prior quarters, and that 74% of residential customers were interested in storage with their solar. This year, we’re projecting the market will at least double as the United States becomes the world’s largest grid-tied energy storage market and energy storage’s investment grade status continues to grow.

With Large Sierra Snowpack, DWR Could Soon Release Water Over The Oroville Dam Spillway

Recent rains and snow pack could force California’s Department of Water Resources to release Oroville Dam’s main spillway as early as next week. Currently, the 2019 snowpack for California is now the fifth largest on record dating back to 1950, according to DWR officials. As of Monday, the snowpack is slightly larger than the amount in 2017 when the state received more rain. However, the winter of 2018-19 has been uncharacteristically colder, resulting in a greater snowpack.

OPINION: State Bill Would Rebuild Friant-Kern Canal, A Key Valley Waterway That Needs Fixing

The San Joaquin Valley is ground zero for issues of water quality and supply. While there are countless studies that have highlighted these water challenges, there have been few investments made to begin to address the problem. We must do more. Our families and I are no strangers to this crisis. We depend on agricultural jobs, but at the same time rely on bottled water because our ground-water wells are contaminated. Today, more than 2,400 families are being impacted by dry wells and over a million Valley residents are exposed to toxic water.

California’s Water Crisis Has Put Farmers In A Race To The Bottom

While California was gripped by drought in 2014, Mark Arax began to notice something he couldn’t explain. Instead of shrinking for lack of water, some big farms were growing even bigger, expanding to hillsides, saltbush desert, and other lands where farmers usually feared to tread. They were planting thirsty almond trees as fast as they could. Arax, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times, watched as journalists from the East Coast parachuted in to tell the story of California’s fruit basket turning into another Dust Bowl. And they found versions of that story to tell: Some farms were drying up, especially the smaller ones.

OPINION: San Diego Needs An Environmentalist Mayor To Avoid Becoming Los Angeles

When did San Diego become so ugly? It’s a horrible question, but one that needs asking. How else might we stop the “Los Angelization” of our once beautiful “Camelot by the Bay?” Take a drive—any drive—or better still a walk or bike ride to see for yourself. It is not just the homeless—though the task of moving the tent cities and river bank and bridge encampments is part of the problem. Just last week, that became more obvious as the usually hidden homeless had to be hustled out of view for both the Padres home game and Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.