A charming 1925 La Mesa home featuring a rich tapestry of thriving low-water use plants won the 2023 Helix Water District Landscape Makeover Contest.
Homeowner Joy Andrea, a retired schoolteacher and La Mesa resident for more than 50 years, created a landscape with a tremendous amount of curb appeal, reflecting the character of the home. Andrea’s design includes a balanced mix of shrubs, ground cover, potted plants, large stones, and decorative statues.
Natural look compliments historic home
Andrea transformed the previous all-lawn landscape into a low-water-use front yard with a thriving fruit and vegetable garden in the back yard.
“When I first moved here, all this was grass that you would have to water with a hose, or it would go brown in the summer,” said Andrea. “The neighbors that used to live around me would have to be outside watering with a hose. Bless their hearts, I never wanted that. It is more rewarding for me to plant, prune and maintain this space than a flat lawn.”
“I wanted to create an old-fashioned, natural look to compliment my 1925 historic home,” said Andrea. “That’s what I tried to create and the plants take on a character of their own.”
Andrea selected plants with a consistent grey-blue theme showing pops of color throughout. Plants featured in the landscape include pride of Madeira, gazania, blue fescue, bottle brush, felt plant, jasmine, and various succulents.
Andrea placed numerous wrought iron statues within the landscape, inspiring imagination and life from every angle. She also included a bottle brush tree and used larger shrubs bordering the landscape. Containers are filled with succulent groupings spilling out.
The landscape design shows how smaller spaces commonly found in front of most residential homes can feel bigger by creating points of interest and using a variety of plants and trees to add color and character.
Design advice for a landscape you love
She has some advice for others wanting to makeover their landscapes.
“Pick hardy drought-resistant plants that you love and enjoy seeing,” she said. “Remember to keep your small plants in the front and have your taller plants toward the back and if you don’t like what you have, don’t be afraid to take it out, replant it or get something else.”
The irrigation system uses efficient drip emitters for the larger plants and tall pop-up sprays for the groundcover. Andrea enjoys tending to her potted plants by hand-watering them.
“Water is our single most important commodity on the planet,” said Andrea. “We must all use it carefully and not just in our yards and landscapes, but with everything we do.”
Annual competition invites residents to share their projects
The annual landscape makeover competition recognizes residents for outstanding water-efficient landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, appropriate plant selection, and maintenance.
Photos of Andrea’s yard will appear in the winner’s section at landscapecontest.com, along with past winners of the Helix Water District contest and those of other participating water agencies in San Diego County.
(Editor’s note: The Helix Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the San Diego County region.)