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WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner Showcases More Beauty With Less Water

Chula Vista, Calif. – Sweetwater Authority (Authority) named Nancy Cavanah of Chula Vista this year’s winner of the WaterSmart Landscape Contest at last night’s Governing Board (Board) Meeting. Cavanah’s landscape was selected from a diverse pool of applicants as the best example of how to create a beautiful landscape using less water.

After years of watering to maintain a green front lawn, Cavanah and her husband decided to invest in making their yard more water-efficient. Using the Turf Replacement Rebate Program to help offset costs, the Cavanahs replaced their thirsty lawn with drought-tolerant landcover and colorful native plants to attract birds and bees. The landscape’s low watering needs are supplemented by the addition of rain barrels.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District Logo landscape design workshops

Encinitas Landscape Transformation Project Wins Local Contest

Encinitas, Calif. — Olivenhain Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors honored at its June 22 meeting Mike and Cathy Godfrey as OMWD’s winner of the 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

“Maximizing water efficiency outdoors is especially important as drought conditions remain in effect across the state,” said OMWD Board Director Neal Meyers. “Showcasing the diversity and beauty of California-friendly landscaping can encourage others to swap their grass for climate-appropriate designs and bring awareness to the benefits of sustainable landscaping.”

High quality soil will support your WaterSmart landscape design. Photo: Lisa Fotios/Pexels healthy soil

Building Healthy Soil: Give It Some Space

Healthy soil consists of elements we don’t typically think of as soil at all. In fact, one of the most critical aspects of soil is the space between the particles.

Soil space results from a process called aggregation. Solid matter will aggregate under the right conditions, forming space between the masses. This allows air and water to fill this area. Rain or irrigation water percolates through the soil, and aggregate spaces hold it like a storage tank. You can store more water and irrigate less frequently when you have more space.

Common Soil Problems Can Be Corrected

Set yourself up for landscaping success by building the best foundation in your soil structure. Photo: walkersalmanac/Pixabay healthy soil

Set yourself up for landscaping success by building the best foundation in your soil structure. Photo: Walkers Almanac/Pixabay

Check your soil aggregation by looking at the soil you dig out during a drainage test. Does it have nice clumps, or is it condensed and compacted?

Compaction is a common problem, especially in areas where grading has been done, foot traffic is heavy, or years of chemical use have killed the soil microbes. Compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space. Reduced pore space keeps air away from plant roots and stops water from infiltrating and draining.

Here’s how to tell if your soil is compacted. Take a turning fork and plunge it slowly but firmly into the ground. If your garden has a foot or more of penetrable soil, your compaction is minimal. New roots will grow easily, and water will effectively penetrate and drain. Anything less, and you probably have some soil compaction.

Using a turning fork, an aerator, or a tilling machine, you can create gaps in the soil to loosen compaction. Because it breaks up the fungal connections, it should only be done once to prepare your planting beds.

Follow all of these activities with a layer of compost to feed the soil food web to help build the aggregate spaces. Mulch can also feed healthy soil and help loosen compaction over time.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.)

Soil-WaterSmartSD-Drought, Landscape makeover

Get to Know Your Soil Conditions

Every individual landscape sits in one of San Diego County’s 16 watersheds. The watershed approach to landscaping considers every garden its own mini-watershed, holding onto or cleaning the water falling on it and nurturing a diverse habitat of plants and insects.

Each mini-watershed can be controlled by the people who steward it. Individual landscaping choices add up to collective community action. As a result, these collective actions have the ability to restore the county’s greater watersheds.

Every landscape has unique opportunities and constraints. A thorough evaluation helps to identify them and inform the planting and design choices. Spend time in your yard, observe and take notes about it. Identifying multiple site elements will help you make decisions as you start the design process.

Notes should include the home’s architectural style and materials, good and bad views, slopes, and plants and trees you want to protect. Locate utilities and major irrigation items such as your water meter, controller, and valves.

Start With Healthy Soil

There’s so much more to soil than most people new to landscaping projects realize. Soil is the growing medium for plants. Its nutrients support healthy plant growth. Knowing and working with existing soil conditions and composition is a powerful strategy to maximize water efficiency.

Healthy soil controls the behavior of water: how it moves through the soil and how long it holds on to it. Healthy soil is essential to irrigation efficiency and plant health. It’s possible to build better soil even if existing soil conditions aren’t optimal.

See a demonstration about soil conditions in this video.

First, you must figure out what kind of soil you’re working with. There are three basic soil types: clay, silt, and sand. Clay soil is made of the smallest particles.  Sandy soil is composed of the largest particles. Loam, an equal blend of sand, silt, and clay, is considered the ideal. In general, sandy soil drains faster than clay soils.

Soil structure is also vitally important. Hard, compacted sandy soil will not absorb water. Healthy clay soil can behave more like a sponge, holding and releasing water when necessary.

San Diego County residents must often deal with clay soils and work to improve them to provide the best growing conditions and watershed.

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WaterSmart Living-Logo-San Diego County Water Authority

(Editor’s Note: The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies offer programs, resources, and incentives to improve water-use efficiency for residential, commercial, and agricultural users. WaterSmart choices are a way of life in the region. Stay WaterSmart San Diego! For more water-use efficiency resources, go to WaterSmart.SD.org.) 

Local Contest Opportunities For Sweetwater Authority Customers Highlight Importance of Water

Chula Vista, Calif. – Sweetwater Authority (Authority) is currently offering two contest opportunities for customers. Both the annual High School Photo Contest and WaterSmart Landscape Contest are now open for entries.

“The Governing Board is proud to offer these yearly contest opportunities to customers as a way to celebrate the importance of our most precious resource – water,” said Board Chair Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “These contests further the Authority’s goal of serving our community through education and outreach.”

Oportunidades de Concursos Locales Para Los Clientes de Sweetwater Authority Destacan La Importancia Del Agua

Chula Vista, Calif. – La agencia de agua Sweetwater Authority (Sweetwater) ofrece a sus clientes la oportunidad de participar en dos concursos. Las inscripciones están abiertas para el concurso fotográfico anual para escuelas secundarias y el concurso de jardines WaterSmart.

“La Mesa Directiva se enorgullece de ofrecer estas oportunidades de concursos anuales a los clientes, como forma de celebrar la importancia de nuestro recurso más preciado: el agua,” declaró la presidenta de la Mesa Directiva Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. “Estos concursos promueven el objetivo de Sweetwater de servir a nuestra comunidad a través de la educación y el alcance comunitario.”

Rebates for WaterSmart Irrigation Devices

Rebates for WaterSmart irrigation devices are available in San Diego County to help property owners reduce expenses by improving water efficiency.

The rebates, offered for a limited time by the San Diego County Water Authority, provide significant savings on devices for outdoor landscapes.

WaterSmart Irrigation-Rebates-Water Efficiency

Rebates for WaterSmart Irrigation Devices

Rebates for WaterSmart irrigation devices are available in San Diego County to help property owners reduce expenses by improving water efficiency.

The rebates, offered for a limited time by the San Diego County Water Authority, provide significant savings on devices for outdoor landscapes.

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program, or WSCIP, helps commercial, public and agricultural property owners improve water-use efficiency in large landscapes through rebates for irrigation hardware upgrades. School districts, universities, and other organizations are also eligible.

“This incentive program is designed to be business-friendly as part of the Water Authority’s focus on long-term water-use efficiency,” said Efren Lopez, a water resources specialist with the Water Authority, who manages the program.

Innovative irrigation devices

The rebate program started a few months before the coronavirus pandemic, and recently was extended to ensure that property owners and landscape contractors have a full opportunity to take advantage of the savings. Rebates are available on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified landscape contractors and property owners at self-managed sites in San Diego County.

Project sites must include at least one acre of irrigated landscape to qualify.

The program offers a range of innovative irrigation devices. Bundling these four items leads to the greatest water efficiency.

Rebates are offered for the following devices:

  • Smart Irrigation Controllers            $35 per station
  • High Efficiency Sprinkler Nozzles   $6 per nozzle
  • Flow Sensors                                      $60 per sensor
  • Drip Irrigation                                    $0.20 per square foot

 

WSCIP - San Diego County Water Authority

The WaterSmart Contractor Incentive Program is a large landscape and technology-focused program, which targets qualified landscape contractors and self-managed sites.

Paperless enrollment

Enrollment is a paperless process. To participate, create an account to enroll and verify your qualifications. To enroll, or for more information, go to: https://www.sdwatersmartcip.com/ or call (888) 521-9763.

There is also a list of contractors enrolled in the program that can work with property owners who want to install eligible irrigation efficiency devices: https://www.sdwatersmartcip.com/enrolled-contractors

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.

Bright Ideas Bring Padre Dam MWD Landscape Contest Winner to Life

Santee homeowners removed grass, replaced the turf with a colorful, WaterSmart landscape, and won a landscape makeover contest too.

Melissa and Josh Perrell’s new landscaping at their Santee home is bursting with bright colors. Vibrant pink, orange, purple and red succulents are interspersed among lush rosemary and lavender bushes. Even more impressive, it didn’t take a single drop of irrigation over the past year to keep it thriving. The Perrells makeover project was selected by Padre Dam Municipal Water District as its 2020 Landscape Makeover Contest winner.