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Couple in Chula Vista Leading by Example in Water Conservation

A Chula Vista couple has been doing its parts to help save water and have been recognized b their efforts.

Homeowners Bryan and Denee Felber have earned the title “Best in District” in the Otay Water District’s 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

Annually, San Diego County water agencies host the contest to award residents for showcasing well-thought-out designs, plant selection and maintenance, and methods for efficient irrigation.

El Cajon Resident Wins Otay Water District Landscape Contest

The drought-tolerant landscaping at Christine Laframboise’s El Cajon home has been a work in progress since 2015, when she, her husband and their son painstakingly pulled out two layers of grass and sod — 1,070 square feet of lawn.

This past week, her front garden took top honors in the Otay Water District’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest is held by many water agencies in San Diego County to encourage and recognize residents who exemplify outdoor water-use efficiency. Agencies judge lawns in their service areas, looking at “before” and “after” photos from entrants, then awarding top picks.

The beautiful, wheelchair accessible garden inspired by Patricia Wood's daughter Kimberly is the 2020 Otay Water District Landscape Contest winner. Photo: Otay Water District

Accessible Garden Wins Otay Water District WaterSmart Landscape Contest

El Cajon resident Patricia Wood, inspired by her daughter Kimberly, transformed a thirsty lawn into a wheelchair accessible garden, winning “Best in District” in the Otay Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

Wood’s landscape demonstrates a well thought-out design, methods for efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

“The one thing that really inspired me was when they said to consider your front yard as another room in your home,” said Wood. “My daughter is in a wheelchair and spends most of her time in her bedroom or our family room, so giving her an outside room to enjoy was the best Christmas present for her that I could imagine.”

Patricia Wood's landscaping prior to its accessible and watersmart makeover. Photo: Otay Water District

Landscaping at the Wood home prior to its accessible and WaterSmart makeover. Photo: Otay Water District

For more than 10 years, Wood had been struggling with a high water-use lawn and gophers digging holes in her yard. In 2018, she learned about the WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program presented by the Water Authority and the Otay Water District. She learned which low-water-use plants and design would work best for her garden.

Patricia Wood's winning landscape design after its makeover. Photo: Otay Water District accessible garden

Patricia Wood’s winning landscape design after its makeover. Photo: Otay Water District

Wood is president of the Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation Disorders Association. She dreamed of surprising her daughter Kimberly, who has NBIA, with a wheelchair accessible garden. Using recommendations from the landscape makeover program and with help from a landscaper, Wood transformed 3,850 square feet of her yard. Her design came to life with a beautiful water-wise garden.

New low water-use accessible garden 

Patricia Wood solved her gopher infestation while transforming her landscaping into a waterwise design. Photo: Otay Water District

Patricia Wood solved her gopher infestation while transforming her landscaping into a waterwise design. Photo: Otay Water District

Wood’s new garden features a decomposed granite path for her daughter to access areas from her wheelchair up close. A dry-creek bed captures rain from the roof and prevents overrun. Waterwise plants such as foxtail agave, blue chalk sticks, butterfly bush, cape plumbago, Texas sage, Texas sundrop, sea lavender, little ollie, and a gold medallion tree fill the yard.

Patricia Wood's landscape design has broad decomposed granite paths to accomodate a wheelchair. Photo: Otay Water District

Patricia Wood’s landscape design has broad decomposed granite paths to accommodate a wheelchair. Photo: Otay Water District

She replaced her overhead spray nozzles with a drip irrigation system controlled by a weather-based sensor. She even solved her gopher problem by applying a wire mesh underneath the topsoil and wire baskets for each plant. Her efforts have led her to decrease her estimated water use by an average of about 27%.

“We are thankful to those residents in our service area who have made great strides to increase outdoor water-use efficiency by upgrading to WaterSmart landscapes,” said Otay General Manager Jose Martinez. “Our hope is that customers find our water-saving classes, resources, and incentives useful for creating their own landscaping projects.”

Wood applied for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Turf Replacement Program and received an incentive of $7,325 for her project.

Patricia Wood and her daughter Kimberly have made their new garden a haven during the pandemic shutdown. Photo: Otay Water District

Patricia Wood and her daughter Kimberly have made their new garden a haven during the pandemic shutdown. Photo: Otay Water District

“It is so relaxing and stress-reducing to enjoy sitting outside and watching the birds and butterflies in our garden,” said Wood. “It has made staying at home much easier during the pandemic.”

As the contest winner, Wood was recognized at the Otay Water District’s August virtual board meeting with a certificate of recognition, gift certificate to a local nursery of her choice, winner’s yard sign, and other promotional items.

The Zeigler family of Vista replaced a labor intensive lawn with a beautiful pollinator friendly landscape to win the 2020 VID Landscape Makeover Contest. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Family Project Wins Vista Irrigation District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

Two Vista homeowners received recognition from the Vista Irrigation District Board of Directors for their entries in the District’s 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest at its July board meeting.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding waterwise residential landscapes. Winners were selected based on the criteria of overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient methods of irrigation.

Pollinator-friendly makeover wins ‘Best in District’ for Zeigler family

After taking a WaterSmart Landscape workshop last spring, the Zeiglers used their knowledge to transform their monotone front lawn to a colorful bloom filled garden reminiscent of their favorite European gardens. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

After taking a WaterSmart Landscape workshop last spring, the Zeiglers used their knowledge to transform their monotone front lawn to a colorful bloom filled garden reminiscent of their favorite European gardens. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Robin and Mike Zeigler received the “Best in District” award and a $250 gift certificate.  It was important to Robin, Mike, and their daughter Kallie, to be water smart with their landscaping choices during a comprehensive landscape and irrigation upgrade.  After taking a WaterSmart Landscape workshop last spring, the Zeiglers used their knowledge to transform their monotone front lawn to a colorful bloom filled garden reminiscent of their favorite European gardens.

The Zeiglers’ landscape includes a wide array of drought-tolerant plants that provide year-round blooms that attract butterflies, birds, and bees.  Vibrant splashes of magenta and coral geraniums, bright yellow yarrow, and Russian blue sage line the flagstone walkway.  Clusters of white alyssum flowers contrast with the bright red and green hues of aeoniums, sedums, and kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos), delivering a beautiful backdrop for the river rock bed flowing through the yard.

Plant selection includes a variety of pollinator-friendly choices such as red sage, “Desert Blaze” Salvia gregii, “Margarita” Penstemon, “Hot Raspberry” butterfly bush, with Wild Dagga or Lion’s Tail (Leonotis leonurus) mixed in with traditional landscape favorites such as lantanas, geraniums, and star jasmine.  The Zeiglers have enjoyed their neighbors stopping to ask who did the landscaping and complimenting the transformation.  Robin Zeigler says she “couldn’t be happier” with the results and has already started on the backyard.

Waterwise landscaping education helps homeowner create a lush new garden

Understanding the components of a Waterwise watering system and basic landscape design elements helped give the Woodward family the confidence to follow through with their landscape makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Understanding the components of a Waterwise watering system and basic landscape design elements helped give the Woodward family the confidence to follow through with their landscape makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Beverly Woodward received an honorable mention award.  The Woodwards wanted to get rid of their front lawn which took too much time, effort, and expense to maintain.  The Woodwards took advantage of courses at the Alta Vista Botanical Gardens and rebates from the San Diego County Water Authority to transform their landscape to a lush garden that reminds them of their favorite hiking spots.  Understanding the components of a Waterwise watering system and basic landscape design elements helped give them the confidence to follow through with their landscape makeover.

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

The Woodward landscaping prior to its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The Woodward landscaping prior to its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The District joined other local agencies holding landscape contests this year, including the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Municipal Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, California American Water, and the cities of Escondido and Oceanside.

For more information about the contest and to see more examples of WaterSmart landscaping, go to: www.landscapecontest.com. Visit the district’s web site (www.vidwater.org) or call (760) 597-3107 to find out more ways to save water.

The Vista Irrigation District provides water service to more than 136,000 people in the city of Vista, and portions of San Marcos, Escondido, Oceanside, and unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

The Montgomerys' blooming and colorful English inspired landscape uses much less water than a lawn of similar size, and compliments the couple’s cottage style home. Photo: Helix Water District

Welcoming La Mesa Landscape Wins 2020 WaterSmart Contest

Tim and Brianna Montgomery of La Mesa transformed a thirsty lawn to a welcoming, water-efficient English inspired cottage landscaping, winning the Helix Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The contest is an annual competition recognizing outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.

The Montgomery home prior to its award-winning landscape makeover. Photo: Helix Water District

The Montgomery home prior to its award-winning landscape makeover. Photo: Helix Water District

Compared to the previous lawn, the Montgomerys’ blooming and colorful English inspired landscape uses much less water than a lawn of similar size. The thriving landscape creates privacy from the road, and compliments the couple’s cottage style home. Over the two-month billing period ending in May 2020, this home used 40% less water than the average Helix Water District customer.

Privacy and low-maintenance style took priority

The Montgomerys' new design incorporates a variety of native and low water use plants. Photo: Helix Water District

The Montgomerys’ new design incorporates a variety of blooming flowers and herbs. Photo: Helix Water District

They purchased their home in 2014. The couple were not happy with the existing lawn’s water consumption, or the lack of privacy it offered. The front window faces two streets. They made unsuccessful attempts on their own to reduce the lawn’s water use. In addition, the front yard sloped towards the house, causing moisture to form in the home’s basement during rainy weather.

The couple toured numerous gardens in East County with the California Native Plant Society’s native garden tours to collect design ideas. They hired a landscape designer in fall 2018, who worked to create a hardscape layout, irrigation design, and planting plan featuring low-maintenance plants, while still matching the charm and character of their 1950s cottage style home.

The Montgomerys worked with a landscape designer who helped create a hardscape layout, irrigation design, and planting plan featuring low-maintenance plants. Photo: Helix Water District

Tim and Brianna Montgomery worked with a landscape designer who helped create a hardscape layout, irrigation design, and planting plan featuring a green color palette. Photo: Helix Water District

“Our landscape designer gave us the design to meet our needs and created a plan so that we could do most of the work ourselves,” said Brianna Montgomery. “We only had to hire a contractor to do hardscape work and install the new water-efficient irrigation system. We did all of the other work ourselves, including grading the front, amending our soil with fresh compost, purchasing and installing the new plants, and adding mulch according to the design.”

The new landscape design offers more privacy from surrounding streets. Photo: Helix Water District La Mesa Landscaping

The new landscape design offers more privacy from surrounding streets. Photo: Helix Water District

The year-old landscape boasts a filled-in appearance and a wide variety of vibrant and colorful plants.

To offer privacy, create shade, and height, the landscape has a fruitless olive tree and a bright desert willow. Low water use daisies add lushness to the landscape. Shrubs and groundcover provide contrast with the home’s red brick front, including soft blue-greens from lavender, Mexican bush sage, and fescue grasses; emerald-colored rosemary; yellow-green rockrose; and splashes of purple, yellow, white, reds and pinks among the landscape’s many flowers.

Efficient new irrigation completes the transformation

The new landscaping is more welcoming both to people and pollinators. Photo: Helix Water District

The new landscaping is more welcoming both to people and pollinators. Photo: Helix Water District

The efficient irrigation system includes micro sprays, drip irrigation, and a smart, weather-based irrigation controller. The landscape diverts and captures rainwater from the front roof and diverts the water to the back yard through a series of French drains. The new rainwater diversion prevents moisture from forming in the home’s basement and also provides additional water for the plants in the home’s backyard.

The new landscape is now more welcoming both to people and pollinators, birds, lizards, and other wildlife now calling the landscape home.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better landscape,” said Brianna Montgomery. “Our landscape fits the energy of our home and ourselves, and we loved being a part of the transformation every step of the way.”

Lavender and daisies brighten the winning landscape design. Photo: Helix Water District

Brianna and Tim Montgomery were recognized at the June 17 Helix Water District virtual board meeting. They received a $250 gift card, an award certificate, and a WaterSmart contest winner sign to display in the yard.

Photos of the winning landscape project will appear in the winner’s section at landscapecontest.com, along with Helix’s past winners and those of other participating local water agencies, and on the district’s website.

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Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

OMWD Welcomes Entries in 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest

Encinitas, CA—Olivenhain Municipal Water District invites residents with water-efficient gardens to enter the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The winning landscape will receive $250. The deadline to apply is April 27, and applications are available at www.landscapecontest.com