Conservation Corner

Tips, resources and news about water-use efficiency

The Nieves family's landscape makeover project won the Sweetwater Authority's contest in 2019. Photo: Sweetwater Authority 2020 landscape makeover

2020 Landscape Makeover Competition Opens Call For Entries

Fourteen water agencies in San Diego County seek the best in landscaping makeover projects for the regional WaterSmart 2020 Landscape Makeover competition. The annual contest offers the opportunity to showcase residential waterwise landscaping as a way to inspire other homeowners to consider replacing water-guzzling turf based designs. The contest deadline for all participating agencies has […]

Carlsbad Desalination Plant-Building-WNN-primary-March 2020

COVID-19: Carlsbad Desal Plant Workers Shelter-in-Place to Keep the Water On

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused companies and organizations around San Diego County to take measures to continue serving the public. As of Friday, 10 workers are quarantined inside the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plan for the next three weeks, monitoring and adjusting gauges and switches, watching for leaks, and doing whatever is needed to […]

If your cat is using the kitchen faucet as a water fountain, you might need to fix a leak during Fix-A-Leak Week 2020. Photo: Stratman2/Pixabay

Take Ten Minutes to Track Down Leaks During Fix-A-Leak Week 2020

Easily fixed water leaks in American households account for nearly one trillion gallons of water wasted annually. The average household leaks nearly 10,000 gallons of water every year. This would wash 300 loads of laundry and could cost you an additional 10% on your water bill. Fix-A-Leak Week 2020 is March 16-22. It was created […]

Inspired by the San Diego County Water Authority's free landscape makeover classes, Vallecitos Water District employee Eileen Koonce transformed her own landscaping. Photo: Vallecitos Water District example watersmart landscaping

Vallecitos Water District Employee Leads By Example With WaterSmart Landscaping Makeover

Vallecitos Water District Development Services Coordinator Eileen Koonce transformed the front yard at her new home into a beautiful water-efficient design with help from the San Diego County Water Authority’s Landscape Makeover Program. As a new homeowner, when Koonce received her first water bill, she decided to figure out a way to reduce her water […]

Native plants can add beautiful color to your sustainable landscape, while attracting pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. Image: Water Authority

Design a Native Garden

If you haven’t finished planting your sustainable garden yet this year, you still have some time. Choose native plants that will thrive in the arid San Diego County climate. Native plants are naturally drought-tolerant. They also support local ecosystems by providing food and habitat for pollinators, such as butterflies and hummingbirds. Native plants can fall […]

Set yourself up for landscaping success by building the best foundation in your soil structure. Photo: walkersalmanac/Pixabay

Take a Test to Determine Your Soil Type

If you put a shovel into the ground in San Diego County, you are likely to encounter the region’s impermeable soil structure. Impermeable soils are defined by poor infiltration areas. This means water doesn’t flow through the soil to replenish groundwater, because the soil is too dense. Having impermeable soil also means water does not […]

Rocks and small boulders are both aesthetically pleasing and useful in your landscape. Photo: Otay Water District

Contour Your Landscape

When planning your landscape, look first at the terrain you’re working with. You can use the contours of your existing land – depressions and slopes – for guidance when planning your landscape grading. If your yard is flat, you’ll need to move soil and features around to create more rain-holding contour areas. A soil percolation […]

Plants on the Nifty 50 list have been selected because they are attractive, available in retail nurseries, non-invasive and thrive in San Diego County. Photo: Capri23auto/Pixabay

The Nifty 50: Best Plants for WaterSmart Landscapes

Are you looking for new plants or trees to upgrade your WaterSmart landscape? Check out the Nifty 50. These 50 plants and trees thrive in San Diego County’s arid climate, and the rainy fall and winter are a perfect time to introduce them into your landscape. They are attractive, non-invasive, easy to maintain and drought-tolerant. […]

Trees can be a great natural way to slow down rainwater before it reaches your soil. Photo: Thilo Becker/Pixabay

Catching and Storing Rainwater for Your Landscape

During the rainy fall and winter seasons in Southern California, catching and storing rainwater is beneficial for cutting down on irrigation costs. It can also be stored for later use through the rest of the year. Know the path rainwater will take If there are rain gutters on your house, water will flow into downspouts, […]

Even in our arid climate, the first rainfall can add up to a lot of water runoff - save as much as possible in your landscape. Photo: Denis Doukhan/Pixabay

Prepare Your Landscape for the First Rain

After a dry spell, the first rainfall is the most important water to capture for your landscape. This is called the “first flush.” In arid regions like San Diego County, this happens every year because there is a long stretch of dry weather in between rainy seasons. Why is the first rainfall so important? It […]

Planning for the amount of space your new plants will need when fully grown will help your landscape thrive. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Make Space for New Plants

When choosing new plants for your landscape this fall, be sure to account for the space each plant will need as it matures. This will help avoid overcrowding in your landscape. Proper plant placement, while predicting the mature plant’s size, also should limit the need for future pruning. This can help reduce the amount of […]

There are many things we can do during fall to keep our landscapes healthy and ready to collect as much water as they can during the winter. Photo: David Mark/Pixabay

Fall for a New Landscape

Many people forget about fall when it comes to landscape care, especially in Southern California. When we don’t see the leaves change colors, it can be easy to overlook this important season. There are many things we can do during fall to keep our landscapes healthy and ready to collect as much water as they […]

Butterflies and hummingbirds aren't just visually appealing; they also provide a service to your landscape by pollinating plants. Photo: GeorgeB2/Pixabay

Attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Witnessing the quick burst of color that often accompanies a butterfly or hummingbird’s flight is always exciting. It’s even more exciting when you see them in your own garden. Aside from being visually appealing, butterflies and hummingbirds also provide a service to your landscape by helping to pollinate plants. In doing so, they ensure seeds […]

Avoiding invasive plant species, removing dead leaves and branches, and planting native plants can protect your landscape and home from wildfires. Photo: azboomer/Pixabay

Firefighting with Plants

Wildfire is a constant threat in Southern California. But there are ways you can protect your landscape and home using native, fire-resistant plants. Plan your landscaping in three zones Zone 1: Help your landscape resist fires by choosing smart designs and fire-resistant plants. The first zone should provide 35 feet of defensible space around structures and […]

How Much Water Do Plants Need?

It’s important to assess how much water your outdoor plants need to stay healthy. The heat and humidity in San Diego County is far from over, with the official start of Fall September 23. Irrigation needs are generally highest during these warm months. Did you know that plants can be classified by their water needs? […]