Posts

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any poppy. It's native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choiices for successful sustanable landscaping. Photo: Kimberly Rotter / Pixabay

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Treating every garden, no matter its size, as its own mini-watershed allows it to capture and retain water to nurture a diverse habitat of plants and helpful insects.

Watersmart living not only saves money, but it creates vibrant yards, reduces energy use, protects our natural resources, and reduces landscape maintenance. It may even improve property values. It also creates a shared sense of purpose about how we use our limited water supplies.

What elements do you need to consider when taking a watershed approach to your landscape?

Learn Four Key Principles of Sustainable Landscaping

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The formula for successful sustainable landscaping includes four key principles:

  • Healthy, Living Soils: Healthy, living soils rich in organic content feed a complex soil food web. The soil holds water like a sponge, and has nutrients for optimal plant health.
  • Climate Appropriate Plants: Many choices of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and display diverse colors, textures, and shaped with endless design options.
  • Rainwater as a Resource: Sustainable landscapes make the most of natural rainfall. Slowing the flow of water off rooftops and hard surfaces allow it to be captured and sink into the soil or be stored for later use.
  • High-Efficiency Irrigation: Your irrigation can maximize water-use efficiency through smart controllers to adjust water automatically to changing weather conditions, and high-performance distribution components to regulate pressure and tailor water delivery to the exact needs of your landscape plants.

The four principles of successful sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego.

The 3,000-square-foot garden can be viewed by the public. It includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. Specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate are also identified. Many are Southern California natives.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Matilija poppies, or Romneya coulteri, have the largest flower of any poppy. It's native to dry, sunny areas from California to Baja and are good choiices for successful sustanable landscaping. Photo: Kimberly Rotter / Pixabay

Follow Four Key Principles for Successful Sustainable Landscaping

Efficient water use is an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in San Diego County’s beautiful Mediterranean climate.

No matter whether your landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a small front porch, or covers many acres on a luxury estate, San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating or renovating their landscapes. Irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners.

Treating every garden, no matter its size, as its own mini-watershed allows it to capture and retain water to nurture a diverse habitat of plants and helpful insects.

Watersmart living not only saves money, but it creates vibrant yards, reduces energy use, protects our natural resources, and reduces landscape maintenance. It may even improve property values. It also creates a shared sense of purpose about how we use our limited water supplies.

What elements do you need to consider when taking a watershed approach to your landscape?

Learn Four Key Principles of Sustainable Landscaping

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority's Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden outside its headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego. Photo: Water Authority

The four principles of sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

The formula for successful sustainable landscaping includes four key principles:

  • Healthy, Living Soils: Healthy, living soils rich in organic content feed a complex soil food web. The soil holds water like a sponge, and has nutrients for optimal plant health.
  • Climate Appropriate Plants: Many choices of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and display diverse colors, textures, and shaped with endless design options.
  • Rainwater as a Resource: Sustainable landscapes make the most of natural rainfall. Slowing the flow of water off rooftops and hard surfaces allow it to be captured and sink into the soil or be stored for later use.
  • High-Efficiency Irrigation: Your irrigation can maximize water-use efficiency through smart controllers to adjust water automatically to changing weather conditions, and high-performance distribution components to regulate pressure and tailor water delivery to the exact needs of your landscape plants.

The four principles of successful sustainable landscaping are on display at the San Diego County Water Authority’s Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden at its Kearny Mesa office in San Diego.

The 3,000-square-foot garden can be viewed by the public. It includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. Specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate are also identified. Many are Southern California natives.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at SustainableLandscapesSD.org. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

A Desert City Tries to Save Itself with Rain

In an average year, Brad Lancaster can harvest enough rain to meet 95% of his water needs. Roof runoff collected in tanks on his modest lot in Tucson, Arizona — where 100 degree days are common in the summer months — provides what he needs to bathe, cook and drink.

Oceanside Receives $175K Grant to Boost Restoration of Loma Alta Slough

The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation awarded Oceanside’s water utilities department a $175,000 grant to assist with the city’s Loma Alta Slough wetlands project, officials said Thursday. The project is intended to restore and enhance approximately six acres of coastal wetland and upland habitat near Buccaneer Beach in south Oceanside.

San Diego County Website Helps Residents Protect Watershed

Because San Diego County gets so little natural rainfall, most residents must artificially irrigate their landscaping. Rainfall becomes a welcome sight when it occurs. The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage.

A new County of San Diego online resource can help you protect watershed by diverting it from the storm drain system. Photo: NIH.gov

San Diego County Website Helps Residents Protect Watershed

Because San Diego County gets so little natural rainfall, most residents must artificially irrigate their landscaping. Rainfall becomes a welcome sight when it occurs.

But rainfall turns into an unwelcome problem when it enters the storm drain system. After the first heavy rain in several months, stormwater runoff gathers pollutants building up on surfaces like rooftops, parking lots, sidewalks, and streets. This polluted water gets carried into street drains that dump out directly into the Pacific Ocean. Pollutants harm waterways and affect sea animals, plants, and the people who surf, swim, or dive in the ocean.

Residents may be contributing to this problem between rainstorms without realizing it. Your yard drainage system including French drains, weeping tiles, and sub-surface drains should not be used for non-stormwater water runoff.  They are intended only to prevent flooding by diverting rainwater from your property to the road or street.

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, runoff water may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Photo: Wikimedia

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, runoff water may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system. Photo: Wikimedia

If your irrigation system overflows from landscaping, or wash water runs off hardscapes or sidewalks, these non-stormwater activities may carry pollutants like pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers into the storm drain system and cause the same negative effects as runoff from rainfall.

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC says new information is added monthly.

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC says new information is added monthly. Photo: SDCounty.gov

The County of San Diego’s Watershed Protection Program in the Department of Public Works has created a webpage with useful information and photos to educate the public and assist in preventing watershed damage. Program Coordinator Christine A. Tolchin, QSD, QISP, CPESC, says new information is added monthly. Photo: SDCounty.gov

Stormwater diversion tips

The website shares these tips to prevent non-stormwater runoff from carrying pollutants into our waterways.

  • Redirect sprinkler heads and hose down items such as patio furniture away from your yard drain.
  • Temporarily cover your yard drain with a bowl or mat when watering.
  • Use dry methods such as sweeping to clean your gutters, patio, and yard.

Your property should also integrate best practices to slow down and divert natural stormwater runoff after heavy rains. Three common methods include:

  • Detention: Protect against flooding by temporarily pooling runoff on your property, allowing pollutants to settle before being discharged to the storm drain system.
  • Infiltration: Divert stormwater runoff to areas where water can soak into the soil and benefit from natural filtering such as gravel, mulch, or grassy trenches.
  • Vegetated: Uses landscape plants and soil to remove pollutants from stormwater runoff through flow-thru planters, buffer strips, and vegetated swales.

Yard drains and diversion methods should regularly be cleared of debris so they operate properly and are ready for a storm event. It’s a good time to do it now while the sun is shining in San Diego.

New Models Detail How Major Rivers Will Respond to Changing Environmental Conditions

From the Nile to the Mississippi and from the Amazon to the Yangzi, human civilization is inextricably linked to the great rivers along which our societies developed. But rivers are mutable, and the benefits they bestow can quickly become disasters when these waterways change course.

CDFW Awards $37 Million for Ecosystem and Watershed Restoration, Protection and Scientific Study Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 40 multi-benefit ecosystem restoration and protection projects to receive funding under its Proposition 1 and Proposition 68 grant programs.

Sweetwater Authority Announces New Leadership Roles for Two Board Members

Chula Vista, Calif. – Two of Sweetwater Authority’s Governing Board Members were recently appointed to local advisory committees for watershed restoration and local agency formation.

Protecting The Watershed

Everyone has heard it a million times by now: The Camp Fire was the most destructive fire in California’s history. But that’s only taking into consideration man-made structures. What about the natural landscape—and, in particular, our waterways? To echo the mantra of 2017’s Standing Rock protest, “Water is life.” That was what brought many people out to Chico State’s University Farm Tuesday (June 4) for the daylong Camp Fire Water Resources Monitoring and Research Symposium. Organized by the University of California Cooperative Extension, it included presentations from researchers who have been studying fire’s impact on ecosystems, in particular ground and surface water.

Napa County Watershed Divide Widens

Napa County is known for the stories behind its world class wines, and recent public policy actions on tree removal and permitted rural winery activities are mobilizing groups to have a hand in writing the future story for local business. On April 9 after three years and two unsuccessful ballot measures. Measure C failed by a razor-thin margin in June the Napa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved greater protections for native woodlands from development and buffer zones for watersheds. But the contentious path to the Water Quality and Tree Protection ordinance vote may not be the last word from supporters and opponents of tougher rules, from inside and outside the wine business.