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Melanie and Bob Buck's colorful landscape makeover is the winner of thOMWD 2019 Landscaping Contest. Photo: OMWD OMWD 2019 Landscape Contest

Colorful Carlsbad Water-Efficient Garden Wins Olivenhain MWD 2019 Landscape Contest

Carlsbad residents Melanie and Bob Buck were honored as the 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winners by the Olivenhain Municipal Water District during its July 24 board meeting.

Melanie Buck worked to transform her landscape from large grassy areas and pine trees into a colorful, waterwise landscape design. The landscape now requires less than half of the water she once used. Visually stunning, the landscape also includes welcoming entertainment areas.

The colorful new landscaping can serve as an inspiration to other Carlsbad residents. Photo: OMWD OMWD 2019 Landscape Contest

The colorful new landscaping can serve as an inspiration to other Carlsbad residents. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

Since installing the award-winning landscape, the Bucks have reduced their outdoor water use. They also benefit from far less expensive maintenance costs. Their home demonstrates the beauty of water-efficient landscapes with its vibrant colors and variety of textures using Bougainvillea, striking cactus, succulents, and California native plants and shrubs.

Landscape contest watersmart design serves as inspiration to residents

Melanie and Bob Buck receive their award from Olivenhain MWD board president Ed Sprague. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

“Outdoor watering comprises the majority of residential water use in the region, so landscaping efficiently is of utmost importance,” said Olivenhain MWD board president Ed Sprague. “Ms. Buck’s show-stopping landscape is a prime example of the beauty that water-efficient gardens have to offer.

“This winning design will serve as an inspiration to others in the community to consider creating their own water-efficient gardens,” added Sprague.

The WaterSmart Landscape Contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Winning entries exhibit excellence in curb appeal, climate-appropriate plant selection, design, efficient irrigation, and environmental considerations.

The Bucks' winning landscape design includes beautiful outdoor living areas. Photo: OMWD

The Bucks’ winning landscape design includes beautiful outdoor living areas. Photo: Olivenhain MWD

Many residents began working on their winning projects by first attending the Water Authority’s free landscape makeover courses for expert instruction and guidance. The four-course series is held throughout in the year in various convenient locations. Pre-registration is required. For the schedule and to register, go to WaterSmartSD.org

Photos of 2019 winners from the 13 participating member agencies throughout the county. as well as previous years’ winners, are at www.landscapecontest.com.

READ MORE: La Mesa Conservation Garden Wins 2019 Otay Water District WaterSmart Landscape Contest

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell transformed 2,500 square feet of turf into their own Conservation Garden in La Mesa, winning the 2019 Oty Water District Landscaping Contest. Photo: Otay Water District

La Mesa Conservation Garden Wins 2019 Otay Water District WaterSmart Landscape Contest

La Mesa residents Bob and Shan Cissell’s conversion of 2,500 square feet of thirsty irrigated lawn into a creative conservation garden was selected by the Otay Water District as the winner of its 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual competition recognizes landscape redesign projects among 13 participating San Diego County water agencies which best represent water-efficient landscaping principles.

Project inspired by free WaterSmart landscaping classes

The Cissells designed their new yard after attending the Water Authority's free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover courses. Photo: Otay Water District

The Cissells designed their new yard after attending the Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover courses. Photo: Otay Water District

Inspired after their participation in the Water Authority sponsored WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program courses, and by the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, the Cissells began their La Mesa Conservation Garden project in April 2018 by removing the sod. They incorporated creative elements including a hand-built waterfall made from an old truck ladder rack, and other solid materials otherwise destined to become trash in a landfill.

Water from a swale feeds the waterfall, then travels through microtubes up a faux bonsai tree — made of concrete and unused materials – to irrigate flower baskets resting at the end of each tree branch. Large tree roots that once ran through their yard now decorate other areas of their yard.

Water from the waterfall grotto travels up the faux bonsai tree in the Cissells' La Mesa Conservation Garden. Photo: Otay Water District

Water from the waterfall grotto travels up the faux bonsai tree in the Cissells’ La Mesa Conservation Garden. Photo: Otay Water District

New efficient irrigation includes drip tubing along the top of the ground, and corrugated drain piping below. The piping allows excess water to irrigate the slopes surrounding the home. To assure their drip system would continue to work properly, the Cissells came up with a system using a birdbath made from an old sink. When their drip system turns on, it feeds the birdbath. The water flows up into the sink and into the overflow hole and back down to the trees. No water is wasted, and mosquito reproduction is avoided. If the birdbath is dry, it means that the drip system is not working properly.

‘Not a single drop of water wasted’

The Cissells’ “Stonehenge” is constructed from large tree roots topped with stones (left), serving as a reminder of what was once the nature beneath them. Photo: Otay Water District

“The coolest thing is that it was a 100 percent makeover from irrigated lawn that took a pathetic amount of water to keep it green, and it wasn’t even green,” said Shan Cissell. “It’s the design, the technical, the labor, the creativity, and the focus on not a single drop of water being wasted that we took seriously.”

The Cissells maximized their viewing area by strategically placing curved walking paths of decomposed granite throughout their yard. Paths are surrounded by vegetation and water-wise plants such as succulents, honeysuckle, pincushion flowers, and manzanita. The Cissells say they their efforts have reduced their water bill as much as 25 to 30 percent.

The Cissells maximized their viewing area by strategically placing curved walking paths of decomposed granite throughout their yard. Photo: Otay Water District

“The Cissells’ unique project proves that creating a beautiful WaterSmart landscape can be both cost-efficient and environmentally beneficial,” says Mitch Thompson, Otay Water District board president and Water Conservation Garden Joint Powers Authority member. “The benefits can be attributed to their efforts in incorporating recycled material along with water-saving features.”

Winners are selected based on overall attractiveness, design, plant selection, and efficient irrigation and maintenance. The Cissells were recognized with a certificate of recognition, gift certificate to a local nursery of their choice, and other promotional items. View more photos of the Cissells’ winning landscape here.

READ MORE: City of Oceanside Selects Drought Tolerant Gardens as 2019 Contest Winners