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WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner Creates Wildlife Habitat

The winner of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest created a wildlife habitat by removing grass and replacing it with climate-appropriate plants. The District’s Board of Directors honored Laura Lisauskas as the winner of the contest during its September 9 meeting.

2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest-Olivenhain Municipal Water District-WaterSmart

WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winner Creates Wildlife Habitat

The winner of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest created a wildlife habitat by removing grass and replacing it with climate-appropriate plants.

The District’s Board of Directors honored Laura Lisauskas as the winner of the contest during its September 9 meeting.

Lisauskas purchased her home in 2018 and decided to remove the existing grass and replace it with a more attractive, climate-appropriate landscape. In addition to being water-efficient, the new layout has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife, provided fruit for her family, and enhanced the beauty of her neighborhood.

Water-efficient, WaterSmart landscape

The new landscape is water-efficient, eye-catching and has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife. Photo: Olivenhain Water District

The new landscape is water-efficient, eye-catching and has created a habitat for pollinators and local wildlife. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Her design divided the garden into multiple interest points and color schemes to highlight different plant collections. Lisauskas even designed and constructed the dry-stacked retaining wall herself.

“Ms. Lisauskas has captured the range of textures and colors found in some of our most beautiful local natural landscapes,” said Bob Kephart, Olivenhain Municipal Water District board director. “Her inspiring, water-efficient landscape is a prime example of using climate-appropriate plants and rainwater harvesting elements to conserve water and reduce pollution from runoff.”

The colorful winning WaterSmart design was inspired by the diversity of San Diego County’s ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy, Blue Bells Emu Bush, and Pink Rockrose. The landscape utilizes drip irrigation and onsite rainwater collection, further reducing outdoor water use.

Landscape makeover attracts pollinators

The winning landscape was inspired by diverse San Diego County ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy and Pink Rockrose. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The winning landscape was inspired by diverse San Diego County ecosystems and features a variety of native and low-water-use plants including California Poppy and Pink Rockrose. Photo: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

The Watersmart Landscape Contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Winning entries exhibit excellence in curb appeal, climate-appropriate plant selection, design, efficient irrigation, and environmental considerations.

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program offers free, online classes: https://landscapemakeover.watersmartsd.org/

WaterSmart-Landscape Makeover-Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Before and after view of the 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner’s home. Photos: Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Waterwise Landscaping Blooms in Escondido

A lush native garden low on water use but not on style won first place in the City of Escondido’s 2020 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.To encourage customers to reduce outdoor water use, the City of Escondido recognizes its customers whose yards best exhibit the beauty of California-friendly, low-water gardening in the annual competition.

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

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.

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.

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.

demonstration garden, WaterSmart, Helix Water District

Helix Water District Creates WaterSmart Demonstration Landscape

Helix Water District recently completed a new demonstration landscape outside of its administration building in La Mesa. The project is intended to inspire and educate the surrounding communities to install WaterSmart landscaping, and it serves as an example that residents can use to help design their own landscaping.

The demonstration landscape includes three unique WaterSmart gardens on the streets around the building, including a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue and a California native landscape along the building’s main entrance on Quince Street. The three gardens exemplify different types of plants that thrive in the climate of San Diego County and only need half to one-fifth of the water that a traditional lawn needs.

“Our new demonstration landscape shows customers that water-efficient landscaping is not just one style,” said Helix Water District Board President Mark Gracyk. “You can choose plants that compliment your home and personal taste – there is an option for everyone.”

Helix Water District, demonstration garden, WaterSmart, native plants

The native plants in the demonstration garden show that WaterSmart landscaping not only saves water and maintenance costs but can be beautiful too. Photo: Helix Water District

Interactive garden gives residents visual design inspiration

Each garden is full of a variety of flowers of different colors and textures. Plant markers are placed to identify each plant and QR codes provide easy access to plant names, sun and water needs, mature size and photos when scanned through the camera of a smartphone.

The water district also created an interactive webpage https://hwd.com/demonstration-landscape where customers can make a list of their favorite plants and download design plans. Information on water-efficient irrigation and rebate programs is also available.

Helix Water District, WaterSmart, demonstration garden

The garden includes interactive elements such as descriptive signs with QR codes that visitors can scan to learn more about specific plants. Photo: Helix Water District

“We’ve made it easy for customers to learn about WaterSmart plants and landscaping,” said Gracyk.

WaterSmart landscapes provide homes for wildlife and pollinators

In addition to requiring less water, WaterSmart landscapes also require less maintenance and provide habitat for local wildlife and pollinators such as honeybees, birds and butterflies.

“Outdoor water use typically accounts for half of a home’s total water use,” said Helix Water District Board Vice President DeAna Verbeke. “With our new demonstration garden, we’re encouraging people to upgrade to a WaterSmart landscape by showing them that water-wise plants are not only sustainable but beautiful as well.”

The project was partially funded through a grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Helix Water District provides water treatment and distribution for 277,000 people in the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove, the community of Spring Valley and areas of Lakeside – east of downtown San Diego. Helix is also a founding member of The Water Conservation Garden, a nearly six-acre water-wise demonstration garden in El Cajon.

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.