Conservation Corner

Tips, resources and news about water-use efficiency

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 […]

Paul Redeker surveys displays at The Water Conservation Garden, located on the campus of Cuyamaca College. Photo: David Ogul, Water Authority

Inspiring Change at The Water Conservation Garden

Horticulture director embraces educational mission WaterSmart landscapes are transforming San Diego County’s neighborhoods in part due to the work of Paul Redeker and his colleagues at The Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon. “We’re a learning center, not just a place where you’re surrounded by beautiful plants,” said Redeker, who recently returned for a second […]

Beeblossom (Gaura) shrubs are a good low water use landscaping choice based on its Plant Factors rating. Photo: Water Authority

Knowing Your Plants’ Water Needs

Landscaping professionals use a resource called the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) to classify plants according to their water needs.   It might sound really complex, but it’s really useful because it breaks down the water requirements for each type of plant into four categories: Very Low, Low, Moderate, and High. These water requirements […]

Knowing how to classify your plants by water use characteristics will help you plan your sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority evapotranspiration

Evapotranspiration: The Key To Watering Your Plants

How much water do plants really need in your landscaping? Evapotranspiration (ET) is the process of assessing various factors to determine how much water plants use, and when they need it. ET is a quick, simple way for landscape experts to explain environmental conditions such as solar radiation (sunshine) or cloud cover. The stronger the […]

As San Diego's temperatures soar, be sure your water use isn't soaring by using water resources efficiently. Photo: DaveJessica - Creative Commons License use water resources efficiently

San Diego Region Expects Sizzling Summer Heat

Water Authority offers tips to keep things cool while using water resources efficiently The first major heat wave of summer 2018 in the San Diego region arrived Friday, and it is expected to continue through the weekend. Temperatures hit a record 111 degrees in communities including El Cajon, Escondido, and Ramona on Friday. The City […]

Create a healthy growing environment for your new landscaping with the "soil lasagna" method. Graphic: Water Authority

Cook Up A Soil Lasagna

Healthy, living soil is full of oxygen, water, and life to support your plants. Building healthy soil using layers uses a process called soil sheet mulching, or “Soil Lasagna.” If you have ever cooked lasagna, this will seem familiar. Soil Lasagna boosts healthy microbes so much that they actually cook down the organic matter and […]

Let your grass grow longer in the summer. Photo: PhotoMix - Creative Commons License

The Right Way to Remove Your Lawn

If you have made the decision to replace your thirsty, water-guzzling grass, you need to plan your grass removal process carefully to ensure you leave healthy living soil ready for new landscaping in its place.   Here’s how to do it:  First, keep your grass moist until you remove it. Don’t withhold irrigation and let it […]

How much mulch will you need? It depends on how you'll be using it in your sustainable landscaping. Photo: Phil Roeder/Flickr-Creative Commons License

More About Mulch You Need To Know

 When using mulch in your landscaping, how much mulch do you need? It depends on what job you want it to perform.  To hold in moisture and keep down weeds: Use three to six inches of mulch on top of the soil.  To maintain planting beds: Maintain two to four inches of mulch on beds […]

The winning WaterSmart landscaping project created by Bill and Rachel Williams. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Vista Irrigation District Announces WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner

Vista, Calif. – The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized one of its customers for their entry in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on the criteria of overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient methods of irrigation. Bill and Rachel Williams received the […]

While compost and mulch may seem interchangeable, they have distinctly different uses in your sustainable landscaping. Photo: Water Authority Compost vs. Mulch

Compost vs. Mulch: What’s the Difference?

Compost and mulch may seem like interchangeable terms for the same thing. But they are two different things with different uses in your landscaping.  Compost is a soil amendment. It is made of organic matter such as food scraps, landscape debris, or livestock manure that have already been partially consumed and mostly decomposed by microorganism. […]