Conservation Corner

Tips, resources and news about water-use efficiency

Native plant-sustainability-garden-landscapetracting pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. Image: Water Authority

Setting Objectives for Waterwise Landscaping Success

It takes time to learn about the concepts behind the watershed approach to creating a healthy and sustainable landscape. Once you have these concepts mastered, the most important step of all comes next.  Consider the goals you want to achieve in your garden for landscaping success. It might be difficult to know where to start. […]

Landscape Makeover-Sweetwater Authority-Water Conservation-native plants

Contouring Tips Help You Make the Grade

Moving both irrigation and our limited natural rainfall through your yard into storage areas via the use of various landscaping features borrow Mother Nature’s engineering. This is especially important during hot, dry summer months. If your yard is perfectly flat, you must move soil and features around to create more water-retaining contour areas. First, complete […]

Native plants-New landscaping-room to grow-plants-Conservation Corner

Provide Room to Grow in Your Sustainable Landscape Plan

Note the height and width of plant species when they mature when choosing plants for new sustainable landscapes. Proper plant placement, taking into account the mature plant’s size, will limit the need for regular pruning, and reduce the amount of maintenance required over time. While regular pruning and removal of dead plant materials is vital […]

Fire-adapted, drought deciduous plants flourish in California coastal sage scrub. Photo: Couleur/Pixabay Native plant communities

Native Plant Communities in Sustainable Landscaping

Plants growing wild naturally arrange themselves into communities with other plant varieties based on their shared characteristics such as water and nutrient needs. This natural selection extends to interactions with each other, and with other species such as insects, birds, and other animals. As a result, we see the same plant communities occurring repeatedly in […]

Hydrozones-Conservation Corner-landscaping

Know the Hydrozone Game Rules

Hydrozones are the different areas of your landscaping where plants with similar irrigation needs are grouped together.  This allows you to apply water as efficiently as possible through rainwater catchment, supplemented by irrigation, while avoiding unnecessary and wasteful overwatering. Sun exposure, slopes, and plant root depths need to be taken into consideration along with plant […]

Everett’s California Fuchhia is an example of a plant that doesn't like to have wet feet, meaning roots sitting in water. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Get Down to the Roots Of Your Landscaping

Plants don’t literally have feet to take them on a walk, but landscapers often refer to a plant’s “feet,” or their roots. Plants like – and need – water on their roots to thrive. While plants absorb water through their leaves, it’s not very efficient due to evaporation. Roots absorb the bulk of water a […]

Grouping plants together by water needs by matching microcliimates creates efficient irrigation. Photo: Water Authority

Microclimate Matching in Your Landscaping Plan

Earlier in our Conservation Corner series, we described how to map the different types of microclimates present in your landscaping. Using this information helps homeowners arrange plants in a new sustainable landscape. For the most efficient water use, plants should be grouped together with similar water needs according to their preferred microclimate. In nature, plants […]

Learn to match plant choices to your microclimate map. Photo: Charlie Neuman, Water Authority

How to Choose Plants for Landscape Microclimates

Every garden has completely different cultivation characteristics, even those located in the same general climate zone. For example, there will be areas where plants will flourish. Numerous features affect your growing conditions. Structures, walls, fences, and other plants can affect the amount of sun and shade in a garden. There can be hills and hollows […]

Attract pollinators to your watersmart landscaping with native plants such as milkweed. Photo: Erin Lindley

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

Flowering plants rely on insects, birds, and other creators for pollination. In turn, plants attracting pollinators feed and house beneficial insects like bees and butterflies, and nectar-loving birds like hummingbirds. Some bugs eat too much, destroying their plant hosts and spreading disease. Other beneficial insects fight off the destructive species, eating them or disrupting their […]

Enjoy Urban Farming While Being Water Smart

Many San Diego County native plants and herbs have fruits and leaves you can harvest. They can be mixed into any climate-appropriate planting design. You don’t have to be a farmer to grow and enjoy them in your sustainable landscaping. For the health of your urban farming crops, consider employing organic growing methods including sheet […]

The Desert Museum Palo Verde tree is an ideal low water use choice for Southern California landscaping. Photo: Danielle Bardgette/Creative Commons-Flickr trees

Waterwise Tree Choices for Watersmart Landscaping

Trees are the single most valuable addition to your waterwise landscaping. Trees create improved water quality, resulting in less runoff and erosion. They also improve air quality and provide habitat for insects, birds, and animals. Healthy, mature trees are so beneficial, they can add an average of 10% to a property’s overall value. When thoughtfully […]

Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner Laura Lisauskas redid her family’s street-facing sloped side yard. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Protect Your Hillsides and Slopes 

San Diego County features many native canyons, and many homes are located in proximity to a native canyon. Native canyon hillsides near your home should not be disturbed. The more you can adapt your home’s landscaping to Nature’s landscaping, the healthier and more low maintenance it will be. Your home may have been built on […]

Scotch broom's blooms are pretty, but it is a non-native invasive species and should be avoided. Photo: Armen Nano/Pixabay

Five Pushy Plant Pests To Avoid

San Diego County’s mild Mediterranean climate allows nearly any type of plants to flourish with adequate irrigation. But when non-native plants are planted alongside native plants, they do their best to take over.  These are plant pests. The worst of them overrun valuable native plant species. They drain limited rainfall and soil nutrients away from […]

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

Five Firefighting Plants Worth Adding to Your Landscaping

As spring temperatures rise, San Diego County residents know wildfire season is not far behind. Although wildfire is a serious threat during warm, dry summer and fall months, wildfire can strike year-round especially in wildland interface areas. Regional landscaping must follow fire safe guidelines in design, plant selection and consistent maintenance. Protecting your home with […]

Bee's Bliss Sage (Salvia leucophylla) attracts pollinators including bees and butterflies to your landscaping. Photo: Wikipedia groundcovers to use

12 Grand Groundcovers to Use as Lawn Substitutes

You’ve decided to eliminate the thirsty turf areas in your current landscaping when planning your new sustainable landscape. It’s tempting to install hardscape. It needs no water at all. It might seem like a smart idea, but it creates a new problem: stormwater runoff. It can also increase temperatures and add in its own small […]