When Jeanne Reutlinger moved to her Escondido home in 2019, the neglected front yard was full of weeds, baked by the sun, and car exhausts from the street. Three years later, Reutlinger’s vision and hard work for a natural low maintenance habitat created a pollinator’s paradise full of native plants. Her efforts won the 2022 City of Escondido’s Landscape Makeover Contest.
Eleven participating San Diego County water agencies invite homeowners to share their inspiring landscaping makeover stories by entering the 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.
The annual contest recognizes outstanding WaterSmart residential landscapes. The winning landscape from each participating water agency will receive a prize valued at $250 and may be recognized in print and online publications. The deadline to apply is May 13, 2022. Applications are available at www.landscapecontest.com.
Judges are looking for overall attractiveness of the landscaping including its curb appeal and whether the plants are well maintained; a design with adequate plant coverage and permeable soil able to thrive with less water; efficient methods of irrigation; and climate-appropriate plant selection with minimal turf.
“With rebates available for turf removal, now is a great time to replace your lawn with a beautiful WaterSmart landscape,” said Brent Reyes, Vista Irrigation District water conservation specialist.
Winning garden is an explosion of color
In 2021, Lauren Grey won “Best in District” award for the Vista Irrigation District. What started out 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.
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.
Most household water use is outdoors
Residents of all participating water agencies are eligible to enter. Agencies include the cities of Escondido and Oceanside, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, and Vallecitos Water District along with the Vista Irrigation District. Each District has slightly different requirements. Read the contest rules webpage for information.
Up to 80% of local household water consumption is outdoors. The contest intends to inspire residents to consider a landscape makeover by showcasing the beauty and variety of water-efficient landscapes.
In addition to the benefits of reducing water consumption, water-efficient landscaping can improve a home’s curb appeal and value, and reduce the need for costly, time-consuming maintenance. Many native plant selections have fire-resistant qualities and provide habitat for local wildlife.
(Editor’s note: The cities of Escondido and Oceanside, Helix Water District, Olivenhain Municipal Water District, Otay Water District, Padre Dam Municipal Water District, Rincon del Diablo Water District, San Dieguito Water District, Sweetwater Authority, Vallecitos Water District, and the Vista Irrigation District are 11 of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)
When you’re beginning a sustainable landscaping project, it can be challenging to remember all the things you need to research, measure, and decide along the way. But it’s not a good idea to overlook these details. They all contribute to the success of your new sustainable landscaping project.
WaterSmart San Diego’s Sustainable Landscaping Guide has a helpful Project Checklist to help guide your effort, allows you to stay on track, and make good decisions to achieve your goals.
Important considerations for a successful landscape makeover include:
Taking the steps you need to prepare your property.
Making all your plans before you start digging.
Choosing your plant palate and creating your plant design.
Beginning your project installation including your new plants.
Updating and adjusting your new irrigation system
Establishing and stewarding your new landscaping.
And most of all, taking time to admire and enjoy your new yard. You’ve worked hard to accomplish your goals and should celebrate your success.
Instructional videos on demand are available on the WaterSmartSD website. The example below explains how to shape your space.
Many home landscapers also return for refresher sessions by returning to WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes. You can also consult local gardening organizations for help, or visit the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon for inspiration, like many of the winners in annual regional landscape makeover contests.
This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.
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.
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.
San Diego County residents who have converted to more water-efficient landscaping can enter the 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest hosted by 12 regional water agencies. Entry is as simple as submitting your photos and plant information by Friday, May 14. Eleven San Diego County Water Authority member agencies are participating, including the Helix Water District, Otay Water District, and Sweetwater Authority.
Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District invites residents with water-efficient gardens to enter the 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The winning landscape will receive $250. The deadline to apply is May 14, and applications are available at www.landscapecontest.com.