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Winning Waterwise Landscapes in the Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County residents continue to embrace a conservation ethic by creating beautiful, waterwise landscapes. The Vallecitos Water District reports that more District water customers are reducing their outdoor water use and adopting WaterSmart practices.

Three Vallecitos customers are the most recent examples of the landscape makeover trend, creating beautiful landscapes, and winning the regional Watersmart Landscape Contest.

Neighbors often ask the Hausmanns about their new landscaping. Doug Hausmann often shares plants and lends a hand on their projects. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

Neighbors often ask the Hausmanns about their new landscaping. Doug Hausmann often shares plants and lends a hand on their projects. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Best in District winners Doug and Pam Hausmann have lived in San Diego County since 1975.  They both became interested in succulents and decided to remove their sprinkler system. They now water by hand. Some of their plants get by with as little as four waterings a year.

By propagating and selling succulents, the Hausmanns raise about $1,000 a year on behalf of a nonprofit supporting a friend’s grandson affected by a rare disease. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

The Hausmanns started growing different plants from cuttings provided by neighbors, and from plants they purchased and then divided. Their success with propagation generated interest in low water use gardening among their friends and neighbors. The couple donated their propagated plants and expertise, helping neighbors to plant waterwise succulent gardens at their own homes.

Waterwise landscape as philanthropic enterprise

The Hausmanns propagation talent helped raise money for “24 Hours for Hank,” which supports research in Cystinosis, a rare genetic disease. Cystinosis affects 500 people in the United States. Because the disease only affects a small percentage of the population, research money is scarce. By propagating and selling succulents, the Hausmanns raise about $1,000 a year for the charity on behalf of a friend’s grandson affected by Cystinosis.

The Hausmanns were selected as contest winners for their successful landscape project, for the philanthropy it generated, and for the teaching opportunity it inspired.

Saving water, saving wildlife

 

All three winning landscape designs provide habitat for pollinators and birds. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

All three winning landscape designs provide habitat for pollinators and birds. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Tours of residential native landscapes and a visit to the Vallecitos Water District Sustainable Demonstration Garden inspired second place winner Bruce Ferguson to follow through on his desire to transform his yard into a more natural and native setting, attractive to wildlife.

Ferguson loves to see lizards, birds, and butterflies. His garden design reduces stormwater runoff and allows for more infiltration of rainwater into the ground by including two small bioswales. He added two small ponds to provide a water source for animals. After the makeover, Ferguson’s water savings range from 20% to 40% monthly.

Bruce Ferguson completed all the work himself on his landscape makeover. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

Third place winner Ellen Kaplan replaced her lawn with a drought-tolerant garden to conserve water, eliminate expensive monthly landscaping, and to give her home more curb appeal.

She used a variety of palms, annuals, kangaroo paws, and succulents. She replaced the existing sprinkler system (which she admitted did a better job of watering her driveway) with a drip system providing targeted watering only where needed.

Ellen Kaplan enjoys watching hummingbirds visiting her new landscaping - and so does her cat from safely inside the house. Photo: Vallecitos Water District winning

Ellen Kaplan enjoys watching hummingbirds visiting her new landscaping. Photo: Vallecitos Water District

All three winners received a gift certificate to Green Thumb Nursery in San Marcos to support their waterwise gardening adventures and a Watersmart Landscape Contest Winner sign for their front yards.

(Editor’s note: The Vallecitos Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's new landscaping filled with vibrant blooming plants is the 2021 Vista Irrigation District Landscape Makeover Contest winner. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Lauren Grey’s landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Winning plan solves erosion problem with beautiful blooms

The “Best in District” award went to Lauren Grey. What started as a project to halt the rush of soil down a steep front slope turned into a multi-hued garden with a view from the top. Grey renovated her front slope and landscape by installing retaining walls surrounded by beds of colorful blooms. She lined the staircase zigzagging through the hillside with a variety of potted succulents. Bright orange poppies, lush green jade, silvery Ghost Plants, and Purple Heart Tradescantia dot the slope.

Lauren Grey’s landscaping solved her problems with a troublesome slope. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The winning result is an explosion of color. “What fun to have a beautiful garden and a sweet place to sit and contemplate it all!” said Grey.

“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, VID water conservation specialist.

Drought-tolerant results receive recognition

Homeowners Deborah Brandt and Dorothy Wagemester received honorable mentions for their outstanding projects.

The "before" look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The “before” look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The Wagemesters wanted to conserve water and create an inviting natural haven on their property. A meandering hardscape pathway lined with a vibrant palette of drought-tolerant choices, including bougainvillea, trailing buttercups, sea lavender, and Cape plumbago replaced turf with a native garden.

The Wagemester home's attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Wagemester home’s attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Magenta blooms of an Eastern Redbud tree pop against foxtail agaves and Kaleidoscope Abelia.

“While spring is our favorite season, we now have color all year long,” said Dorothy Wagemester.

Deborah Brandt's landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Deborah Brandt’s landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt wanted to transform her plain backyard into a magical place. She started with river rock and added cactus and succulents in multiple shapes and sizes. Over time, she mixed in yard art and chimes, creating charming surprises. Brandt installed drip irrigation and two rain barrel water collection systems to reduce her water use.

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt “gave away the lawnmower” due to the transformation into a low-maintenance, WaterSmart paradise where flowers bloom year-round.

(Editor’s note: The Vista Irrigation District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Announces WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winners

Vista, Calif. — The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized customers for their entries in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual 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.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District-Landscape Makeover Winner-WaterSmartSD-drought

Hard Work Pays Off for Padre Dam Landscape Makeover Winner

Frank Edward’s Santee home is bursting with bright colors and textures. Vibrant yellow, orange, red, green, and purple flowers, and drought-tolerant, native plants spring to life where there was once just dry and patchy grass.

“It was a lot of hard work but it was also a lot of fun,” said Edward. “It was great to see all of my labor come to fruition.”

The transformation from high maintenance lawn to vibrant design is the winner of the 2021 Padre Dam Municipal Water District Landscape Makeover Contest.

Before transformation

Frank Edward'a home before his award-winning landscape. Photo: Padre Dam Landscape Makeover

Frank Edward’s home before his award-winning landscape redesign. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

After transformation

The results of Frank Edward's hard work. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The results of Frank Edward’s hard work. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward began his water-efficient landscape journey in 2018 when he attended a three-hour WaterSmart Landscape Workshop at Padre Dam’s customer service Center. He was tired of his high maintenance, drought-bleached lawn and wanted his landscape to add to the overall attractiveness of his home.

During the workshop, he learned about the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series, a four-class series that helped him through the process of preparing his space, designing his landscape, selecting plants, and irrigation planning. Edward used a kidney bean shaped planter as a starting point and designed his landscape around this feature.

“Hard work but a lot of fun” to complete landscape makeover

Frank Edwards had a complete plan after attending the Water Authority's WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series. Photo: Frank Edwards Padre Dam Landscape Makeover

Frank Edwards had a complete plan after attending the San Diego County Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series. Photo: Frank Edwards

Edward had a fully designed layout ready to be implemented by the end of the class series. He set to work removing his old turf and installing his new landscape in the spring of 2019 and did all of the removal, designing, and planting himself. He even constructed a small barn that acts as a shed and a footbridge over his riverbed to add unique and functional design elements. The work took about a year to complete. Water storage features including a small pond and rock river bed, which add depth and shape to the contoured yard.

The new yard has places to sit and enjoy the flowers, pollinators, and bird. Photo: Padre Dam MWD

The new yard has places to sit and enjoy the flowers, pollinators, and birds. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward installed piping to collect water off his roof, collected in a rain barrel, and diverts it to the landscape’s rock river bed. Additionally, he created a pond that can hold several hundred gallons of water. This collected rainwater helps to irrigate the plants by replenishing the soil’s moisture for a period after it rains. Edward also installed a smart controller that waters the plants based on hydrozones and local weather through a drip irrigation system.

Neighbors compliment Frank Edward on his efforts. Photo: Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Edward now spends time relaxing and listening to birds in his front yard. He enjoys the peaceful atmosphere and the satisfaction he gets when neighbors and passersby compliment his landscape. He recommends that others looking to plant a water-smart landscape put in the time to research and plan in order to create an environment and design that will work for their lifestyle.

“Hard work and a well-thought-out plan certainly paid positive results,” said Edward. “It was a great success.”

(Editor’s note: The Padre Dam Municipal Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Native plants-drought-City of Escondido-Landscape Makeover

Native Plants Garden Wins 2021 Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest

As California experiences another drought cycle, homeowners in the San Diego region continue to makeover their landscapes with native plants that need less water. An Escondido couple recently transformed their landscape to save water and won the City of Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest too.

Escondido homeowners Michael and Teresa Everett first learned about the 2021 Escondido Landscape Makeover Contest from Escondido family-owned El Pantio Nursery. It was the motivation they needed to makeover their landscaping with native plants.

“As concerned Californians, we wanted to do our part to lessen our impact on San Diego county’s water resources,” said Teresa Everett. “We decided to switch to a waterwise landscape using all California native plants. Landscaping with native plants can reduce water usage by 60% or more. There is also a reduction in one’s carbon footprint as there is no need for mowing or trimming lawns.”

The Everett home before their landscaping makeover. Photo: Courtesy Michael and Teresa Everett

Landscaping supports local ecosystem

The new garden provides habitat for native insects, birds, animals, and people too. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The new garden provides habitat for native insects, birds, animals, and people too. Photo: City of Escondido

The Everetts also reduced yard waste and the need for soil additives since California native plants are adapted to the lean clay soil in San Diego County.

While the environmental reasons were compelling, the Everetts also wanted to create a habitat garden that was both beautiful and supported the local ecosystem.

“California is in the top 25 most bio-diverse areas in the world,” the couple pointed out. “Our housing developments have crowded out native plants. Native plants have evolved to provide exactly the right food in exactly the right package to attract and feed the animals that are unique to our California environment.”

The Everetts' landscaping shows it's possible to have a lush yard and still be waterwise. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The Everetts’ landscaping shows how to create a lush yard and be waterwise. Photo: City of Escondido

The Everetts planted native trees, including Coastal live oak, Western sycamore, Western redbud, and Palo Verde Desert Museum. They added shrubs, including manzanitas, ceanothus, Mexican elderberry, salvias, desert mallow, and wooly bluecurls. California fuchsias, San Diego sunflowers, and Pacific irises add color. Grasses and vines round out the landscape palette.

“Ever since we re-landscaped, we have observed a huge increase in birds, lizards, butterflies, and other pollinators in our yard. Waterwise native gardens are also extremely beautiful,” said the couple.

Irrigation needs reduced using native plants

Salvias and poppies provide color in the landscaping plan. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

Salvias and poppies provide color in the landscaping plan. Photo: City of Escondido

After the makeover, the Everetts rarely need to irrigate their landscape between late fall and late spring. During drier months, the landscape is irrigated twice monthly. The homeowners also maintain a vegetable and herb garden using rainwater collected in two rain barrels with 260-gallon capacity and by hand when necessary.

“We now spend many hours relaxing and bird watching in our yard,” said the Everetts. “Our outdoor space is now a much more enriching experience that gives us a greater sense of our connection to nature and a sense of place.”

The landscaping plan includes features like this dry riverbed. Photo: City of Escondido native plants

The landscaping plan includes features like this dry riverbed. Photo: City of Escondido

“By re-landscaping our small property, we hope to take one small step in restoring San Diego county’s rich biodiversity. Sharing the successes of our garden with others will hopefully encourage other homeowners to convert their gardens to water and habitat smart landscapes.”

Find tips on how to create a WaterSmart home and garden, including details on rebates: www.watersmartsd.org/

(Editor’s note: The City of Escondido is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

El Cajon homeowner-Otay Water District-2021 Landscape Makeover Contest

El Cajon Homeowner Wins Otay Water District’s 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

El Cajon homeowner Christine Laframboise’s water-saving landscape design trading turf for a less thirsty approach was named the Otay Water District’s 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner.

The annual contest is held by water agencies throughout San Diego County to award one resident from their respective service area for their water-saving landscape. Otay selected Laframboise for her well-thought-out design, plant selection, maintenance, and methods for efficient irrigation.

Christine Laframboise greatly reduced her water use and costs removing the old lawn. Pboto: Otay Water District El Cajon homeowner

Christine Laframboise greatly reduced her water use and costs by removing the old lawn. Photo: Otay Water District

El Cajon homeowner saves water

“We are proud to have customers like Christine who are committed to outdoor water-use efficiency and can demonstrate the many attractive features that homeowners can incorporate into their WaterSmart landscapes, especially at a time when California is facing drought conditions,” said Otay Board President Tim Smith. “We encourage customers to take advantage of our free resources and rebates to help with their landscaping needs.”

The new landscaping eplaced turf with waterwise plants. Photo: Otay Water District El Cajon homeowner

The new landscaping replaced turf with waterwise plants. Photo: Otay Water District

Tearing out thirsty turf

Thirsty lawn once covered Laframboise’s 1,895-square-foot front yard. Its upkeep required large amounts of water. In 2014, she took landscaping classes presented by the San Diego County Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program.

The new landscape now includes a drip-irrigation system, rotating nozzles, and a smart irrigation controller to schedule efficient water use. Photo: Otay Water District

The new landscape now includes a drip-irrigation system, rotating nozzles, and a smart irrigation controller to schedule efficient water use. Photo: Otay Water District

Equipped with a new landscape plan, Laframboise enlisted the help of her husband and son to remove all the grass responsibly. She installed water-wise features such as mulch, stone, and low-water-use plants.

Her landscape now includes a drip-irrigation system, rotating nozzles, and a smart irrigation controller to schedule efficient water use. The El Cajon homeowner decreased her overall water use by an average of 42%. She waters only two or three times a week and especially enjoys the pollinators attracted to her new yard. She can maintain it on her own and no longer needs a lawnmower.

Laframboise’s project qualified for a $2,140 rebate from the Water Authority’s WaterSmart Turf Replacement Program.

Landscaping project continues to evolve

The new landscaping continues to evolve with new features. Photo: Otay Water District El Cajon homeowner

The new landscaping continues to evolve with new features. Photo: Otay Water District

“My yard evolves as I learn more about different plants and where I live locally. I recently replaced dyed wood chips for shredded redwood bark. It is safer for pets, children, and wildlife,” said Laframboise. “I also plan to add more natives to attract more wildlife and further reduce my water use.”

The Otay Water District Board of Directors recognized Laframboise at its July 7 meeting with a certificate, a gift certificate to a local nursery of her choice, an “Award-Winner” yard sign to display, and other promotional items.

(Editor’s note: The Otay Water District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Native Plants Highlight Sweetwater Landscape Contest Winner

Chula Vista resident Paul Rodriguez gave up struggling to maintain his thirsty green lawn in favor of a new landscape design featuring California native plants and shrubs. The Sweetwater Authority Board of Directors selected Rodriguez’s makeover as its 2021 Landscape Makeover winner.

Unused Pool Transformed into Helix Water District 2021 Landscape Contest Winner

Mount Helix homeowner Rosalie Dosik turned her unused pool into a waterwise backyard oasis and the winning project in the Helix Water District 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual competition recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

Sweetwater Authority-Landscape Makeover-Native Plants-Drought

Native Plants Highlight Sweetwater Landscape Contest Winner

Chula Vista resident Paul Rodriguez gave up struggling to maintain his thirsty green lawn in favor of a new landscape design featuring California native plants and shrubs. The Sweetwater Authority Board of Directors selected Rodriguez’s makeover as its 2021 Landscape Makeover winner.

The Rodriguez home before its landscaping makeover. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The Rodriguez home before the landscaping makeover. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The WaterSmart Landscape Contest is an opportunity for homeowners to showcase landscape designs focusing on beautiful alternatives to traditional turf-oriented designs. Entries in the makeover competition are judged on five qualities:

  • Overall attractiveness
  • Appropriate plant selection
  • Design
  • Appropriate maintenance
  • Efficient irrigation methods

Native plants and a natural habitat

A trail lets visitors stroll through the property. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

A trail lets visitors stroll through the property. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Rodriguez and his wife participated in a free Water Authority WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series course. It provided the foundation allowing them to embrace a design replacing the lawn. They also attended several native plant workshops hosted by the San Diego Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. The family were attracted to gardening with native plants due to their low water and no fertilization needs. They also liked the added benefit of creating a natural habitat for pollinators and birds.

Winning entry a pollinator paradise

Milkweed provides food for endangered Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Milkweed provides food for endangered Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The transformed landscape now includes several manzanitas and large Ceanothus shrubs in the back yard, which reminds Paul Rodriguez of hikes in Mission Trails Regional Park. The front yard adopted a California Coastal Sage scrub garden habitat. It only requires hand watering twice a month during the dry season.

It is a pollinator’s paradise with sages, buckwheats, and verbenas that attract birds and bees. Milkweed provides a food source for endangered Monarch butterflies. Milkweed leaves are the only food monarchs will eat. They also lay eggs on the undersides of the leaves. Striped caterpillars feed on the leaves as they develop.

The new landscaping features native plants. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

The new landscaping features native plants. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

As the winner of the 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest, Sweetwater Authority presented the Rodriguez family with a certificate of recognition and gift card as a thank you for setting a waterwise example for other residents.

(Editor’s note: The Sweetwater Authority is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)