Conservation Corner

Tips, resources and news about water-use efficiency

Homeowners learn through the Water Authority's Landscape Transformation program that sustainable landscaping can be as lush as a lawn. Photo Water Authority turf

Tearing Out the Turf: 1 Million Square Feet Targeted for Removal

San Diego County residents have targeted more than 1 million square feet of turf grass for replacement with WaterSmart landscaping through free landscape makeover classes sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority over the past five years. While not all the targeted turf has actually been removed, post-class surveys show that many participants end […]

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

Plants With Wet Feet and Dry Feet

Plants and people have similar likes and dislikes when it comes to their feet.   Of course, plants don’t literally have the kind of feet that take them on a stroll, but a plant’s roots are often referred to as “feet.” Just like most people enjoy a walk along the beach or wading in a pool […]

Your plant choices should be governed by the individual hydrozones in your landscaping. Photo: Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources

Playing by the Hydrozone Landscaping Rules

Hydrozones are the different areas of your landscape with different irrigation needs. These needs can vary greatly in a single yard. By managing your water distribution to meet the needs of each hydrozone, you can minimize water waste and promote healthy plants. For example, plants with similar growing requirements including water needs should be planned […]

Match your plant choices to the different microclimate areas in your landscaping. A microclimate map helps you make good choices. Photo: Water Authority

Match Your Landscape Plants To Your Microclimates

A previous Conservation Corner article explained how to map the different types of microclimates present in your landscaping. This information can help homeowners effectively arrange plants in their sustainable landscapes. For the most efficient water use, plants should be grouped together with similar water needs in their favorite microclimate.   In nature, plants that like lots […]

Different areas of your landscaping are affected by shade, moisture, and temperature, creating a variety of microclimates. Photo: Water Authority

Map Your Microclimates

Every garden has areas where plants flourish, and other areas where plants struggle. Structures, walls, fences and other plants can affect the amount of sun and shade in a garden. Every garden is completely different, even if it is located in the same general climate zone.  There may be hills and hollows in your front […]

Encourage pollinators to visit your sustainable landscaping with plants that attract bees, butterflies, and others. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons

Planting for Pollinators

Plants and insects need each other to survive. Nature provides checks and balances in a garden. You can attract insects and creatures that help maintain the healthy balance of a garden without pesticides.   Flowering plants rely on insects for pollination, and thus reproduction. In turn plants feed and house insects. Some bugs eat too much, […]

Fruit trees, especially citrus, thrive in San Diego County’s climates with just a little bit of care. The Pineapple Guava (Acca sellowiana) is a good choice with spectacular blooms. Photo: WIkimedia/Creative Commons License Edible Plants

Incredible Edibles In Your Sustainable Landscaping

You don’t have to be a farmer to enjoy edible plants in your sustainable landscaping. Many native plants and herbs have fruit and leaves you can harvest. They can be mixed into any climate-appropriate planting design. Organic growing methods including sheet mulching (as explained in an earlier post) and integrated pest management ensure the health […]

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

More Trees, Please

Planting trees improves water quality by reducing runoff and soil erosion. It’s also good for the wallet. Healthy, mature trees can add an average of 10 percent to a property’s overall value.  Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent, and can save 20 to 50 percent of the energy […]

Hold Onto Your Hillsides and Slopes

Many San Diego County residents live near canyons, which are valuable natural resources. Native canyon hillsides should be not be disturbed.   When planting in previously disturbed or built slopes and hillsides, low-water plants, trees, deep-rooted native plant species, and climate-appropriate plants with strong root structures should be selected. Their powerful root systems can help hold […]

Outside its native African habitat, fountain grasses are an invasive species. In California it has no natural enemies and outcompetes native plant species. Photo: UCRiverside/Center for Invasive Species Research Invasive Plants

Avoid ‘Takeover Artists’ in Your Landscaping

Just like people, many non-native plants love everything about San Diego County and choose to make it their home. They love it so much these invasive plants have moved in, stretched out, and are doing their best to take over.   They do what they can to make room by hurting native plant species. They drain […]

Coral Aloe will protect your property from wildfire while it brightens your sustainable landscape. Photo: Don Graham/Flickr-Creative Commons license Firefighting plants

Call On These Five Firefighting Plants

Wildfire is a real and constant threat in San Diego County year-round, but particularly in the late summer and fall months. This is especially true in wildland interface areas where homes are right next to the backcountry. Landscape design, plant selection, and maintenance must be done in accordance with fire-safe guidelines.  Wildfire is a real […]

Match your plant choices to the different microclimate areas in your landscaping. A microclimate map helps you make good choices. Photo: Water Authority

Sustainable Landscapes Takes Root in San Diego

More than 225 San Diego County homeowners have transformed their landscapes into beautiful, climate-appropriate mini-watersheds through the Sustainable Landscapes Incentive Program developed by the San Diego County Water Authority and its partners. Since the program launched in October 2016, more than 354,000 square feet of turf has been removed and replaced with sustainable landscaping. Approximately […]

Great Groundcovers To Consider as Lawn Substitutes

You may have decided to replace your thirsty traditional lawn in your new sustainable landscape. What options are available for  some kind of natural plant element rather than covering the same area with hardscaping?   Consider replacing the lawn with a groundcover type plant. There are many good choices that make good lawn substitutes and grow […]

With a little thoughtful planning and good choices, lawn can still be a good choice in waterwise landscaping. Photo: Pixabay/Cromaconceptovisual Waterwise Lawns

When It Comes To Lawns, Use it or Lose It

If you have a desire and a need to retain turf as part of your landscaping, consider adopting the most efficient and organic maintenance plan possible. Lawns that are maintained organically and with efficient irrigation can offer a cool, practical surface for active recreation, or just hanging out with your family.   Most lawns suffer from […]

When you compare how much water an efficient landscape design needs compared to your existing landscape, you can estimate your water savings. Landscape water savings

How Low Can Your Landscape Water Savings Go?

In places like San Diego County where water is a very precious resource, landscape designs that use the least potable water necessary are a growing part of the regional ethic. That means property owners should think about the efficiency and sustainability they can achieve in their landscaping.   As a general rule, it’s smart to maximize […]