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Winning Waterwise Landscapes in the Vallecitos Water District

San Diego County residents continue to embrace a conservation ethic by creating beautiful, waterwise landscapes. The Vallecitos Water District reports that more District water customers are reducing their outdoor water use and adopting WaterSmart practices.

Three Vallecitos customers are the most recent examples of the landscape makeover trend, creating beautiful landscapes, and winning the regional Watersmart Landscape Contest.

Getting Professional Guidance on Your Sustainable Landscaping

With the help of resources such as the San Diego County Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes, video on demand, and Sustainable Landscape Guide, many homeowners feel prepared to create a beautiful new sustainable landscape on their own.

But sometimes, it’s a smart idea to call on professionals trained in different aspects of the watershed approach to landscaping. With a little help, you can ensure the success of your project. For your investment, you will likely save time and money by avoiding unsuccessful efforts.

Landscape professionals can help advise you on planning your waterwise landscape and choice of plants. Photo: Anna Shvetsova / Pexels professional guidance

Getting Professional Guidance on Your Sustainable Landscaping

With the help of resources such as the San Diego County Water Authority’s WaterSmart Landscape Makeover classes, video on demand, and Sustainable Landscape Guide, many homeowners feel prepared to create a beautiful new sustainable landscape on their own.

But sometimes, it’s a smart idea to call on professionals trained in different aspects of the watershed approach to landscaping. With a little help, you can ensure the success of your project. For your investment, you will likely save time and money by avoiding unsuccessful efforts.

There is no shortage of experts available in all aspects of landscape planning, design,  installation, and maintenance.

Assessment organizations, including site assessment and testing, various measuring services, surveyors, soil testing services, and even Google Maps are available. Property measuring and survey companies can develop more detailed site plans with elevations, siting of trees, and landscape amenities.

Professional experts in multiple fields

Landscaping design and planining

Landscaping designers can expedite your landscape makeover plans. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Planning and design professionals can help you develop a working plan and budget for your landscaping. The plan should include drawings, resource lists, and an outline of the techniques needed to implement the plan. Landscape designers and architects can help you create a conceptual design. Working with a licensed professional is recommended if you have hillsides and slopes or complicated structures.

Landscape installation and construction professionals are licensed contractors specializing in building landscapes and can work on all aspects of a sustainable landscape plan. You may be able to install your own garden, but if you get stuck, you can call upon the expertise of an experienced pro who carries all the necessary insurance and is knowledgeable about permitting requirements.

Rainwater catchment specialists include people certified by the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association to design and install rainwater capture systems. These pros can bring specialized expertise to your project, particularly if it involves installing an active capture system such as a cistern. The water savings you achieve can offer you a solid return on investment.

QWEL program curriculum includes 20 hours of classroom and hands-on training on principles of plant care, irrigation system design, maintenance, programming, operations and troubleshooting. Photo: Water Authority professional guidance

QWEL program curriculum includes 20 hours of classroom and hands-on training on principles of plant care, irrigation system design, maintenance, programming, operations, and troubleshooting. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Irrigation system consultants include people with certification by an EPA WaterSense® organization to provide irrigation system auditing, design, and maintenance. They can help you improve the efficiency of your irrigation system. The Irrigation Association, California Landscape Contractors Association Water Managers, Qualified Water Efficient Landscapers (QWEL), and G3 Watershed Wise Landscape Professionals all provide searchable lists of qualified people.

Plant selection specialists include your local retail nursery and garden center, native plant societies, Master Gardeners, and professional gardeners. Learn from them, and do your homework to select plants that are both climate-appropriate and locally native to your area. You will be rewarded with a better understanding and appreciation of your garden as it evolves over the years.

The maintenance of sustainable landscapes requires an understanding of the watershed approach to landscaping and water management. Even if you eliminate the need to mow a lawn, there remains the need for fine pruning, irrigation tune-ups, cleaning and checking water retention devices, and soil building. Maintenance people have the know-how to implement mulching, basic irrigation adjustments, and care for native plants.

Certified arborists are specialists trained in the art and science of planting, caring for, and maintaining individual trees. Find qualified professionals at the International Society of Aboriculture and the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Take advantage of the public education provided by your local water district, various nonprofit organizations, and the San Diego County Water Authority. Classes are often free of charge.

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.

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San Diego Radio DJs Promote WaterSmart Lifestyles

Well-known local radio DJs Geena the Latina from Channel 93.3, Beto Perez from Jam’n 95.7 and Tati from Star 94.1, are teaming up with the San Diego County Water Authority this summer to thank San Diegans for using water wisely and are encouraging residents to keep our region drought-safe.

While drought conditions persist across the western U.S., San Diego County has reliable water supplies thanks to investments made by the region’s ratepayers, the Water Authority and its member agencies. 

San Diego region “drought-safe” thanks to WaterSmart practices

San Diegans have adopted WaterSmart practices and continue to make the most of every drop, helping ensure there’s enough water to meet the region’s needs now and for decades into the future. Simple but important steps like washing full loads of laundry and dishes, rinsing fruit and vegetables in a bowl, and checking for leaks save water.

Radio DJs thank San Diegans

“I do my daily routine to make sure I turn off my water when I brush my teeth,” said Beto Perez. “I’m huge when it comes to preserving our water because a couple of years ago when we had the drought here in our county I was freaking out.”

Beto Perez – Jam’n 95.7

Beto Perez from Jam’n 95.7 was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in South San Diego. He is a well-known on-air DJ and local favorite with more than 13 years of experience at English and Spanish radio stations, including Magic 92.5 and Z90.3.

Geena the Latina – Channel 93.3

Originally from Los Angeles, Geena the Latina has been a staple on Channel 93.3 for more than a decade. As the co-host of the Geena the Latina & Frankie V morning show, she is one of the most recognized and beloved radio personalities in San Diego.

Tati – Star 94.1

Tati of Star 94.1 began her radio career in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has followed her career from coast to coast. Most recently, she worked as a morning co-host at Jam’n 95.7 before joining Jesse and Tati in the Morning on Star 94.1.

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot

The Water Authority also recently released a video featuring musician Jon Foreman of the San Diego band Switchfoot at San Vicente Reservoir. Foreman talks about the investments the region’s water agencies and ratepayers have made to protect San Diego County’s economy and quality of life, especially during dry times.

Previous video collaborations between Foreman and the Water Authority have collectively generated hundreds of thousands of views on various digital platforms. The videos also helped to introduce new audiences to the importance of safe and reliable water supplies.

To learn more about ways to stay WaterSmart, go to watersmartsd.org.

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's new landscaping filled with vibrant blooming plants is the 2021 Vista Irrigation District Landscape Makeover Contest winner. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Trio of Waterwise Landscapes Win Vista 2021 Contest

Three homeowners in the Vista Irrigation District won recognition recently from the VID board of directors in its 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient irrigation methods.

Lauren Grey's landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Lauren Grey’s landscaping before its winning makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Winning plan solves erosion problem with beautiful blooms

The “Best in District” award went to Lauren Grey. What started 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.

Lauren Grey’s landscaping solved her problems with a troublesome slope. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

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.

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

Drought-tolerant results receive recognition

Homeowners Deborah Brandt and Dorothy Wagemester received honorable mentions for their outstanding projects.

The "before" look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The “before” look at the Wagemester landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

The Wagemesters wanted to conserve water and create an inviting natural haven on their property. A meandering hardscape pathway lined with a vibrant palette of drought-tolerant choices, including bougainvillea, trailing buttercups, sea lavender, and Cape plumbago replaced turf with a native garden.

The Wagemester home's attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Wagemester home’s attractive new waterwise landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Magenta blooms of an Eastern Redbud tree pop against foxtail agaves and Kaleidoscope Abelia.

“While spring is our favorite season, we now have color all year long,” said Dorothy Wagemester.

Deborah Brandt's landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

Deborah Brandt’s landscaping before its makeover. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt wanted to transform her plain backyard into a magical place. She started with river rock and added cactus and succulents in multiple shapes and sizes. Over time, she mixed in yard art and chimes, creating charming surprises. Brandt installed drip irrigation and two rain barrel water collection systems to reduce her water use.

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District Vista 2021 Contest

The Brandt home with its new drought-tolerant landscaping. Photo: Vista Irrigation District

Brandt “gave away the lawnmower” due to the transformation into a low-maintenance, WaterSmart paradise where flowers bloom year-round.

(Editor’s note: The Vista Irrigation District is one of the San Diego County Water Authority’s 24 member agencies that deliver water across the metropolitan San Diego region.)

Native plant-sustainability-garden-landscapetracting pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. Image: Water Authority

Setting Objectives for Waterwise Landscaping Success

It takes time to learn about the concepts behind the watershed approach to creating a healthy and sustainable landscape. Once you have these concepts mastered, the most important step of all comes next.  Consider the goals you want to achieve in your garden for landscaping success.

It might be difficult to know where to start. Many people accept an ocean of green but thirsty lawn and never give much thought to landscaping goals. Consider one of these worthy objectives.

Waving goodbye to grass

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

Most native Southern California plants do well in hotter temperatures, so summer plant care is easy with a little planning. Photo: Annie Spratt/Pixabay

  • Removing a thirsty lawn without using any chemicals, in a way that preserves the healthy soil microbes
  • Planting local California native plants that will attract birds, butterflies, and bees for pollination
  • Creating a child or pet-friendly garden without thorns or sticky grass seed heads
  • Planting fruit trees, edible vines, and shrubs, or vegetable gardens

Using irrigation efficiently

Well designed and operated irrigation systems can reliably deliver the water your landscaping needs without waste or excess. Photo: AxxLC/Pixabay

Well designed and operated irrigation systems can reliably deliver the water your landscaping needs without waste or excess. Photo: AxxLC/Pixabay

Building healthy living soil that will act like a sponge, even if it rains a lot

Capturing all the rainwater from the roof and re-routing downspouts to fill rain barrels instead of running onto hardscaping

Converting spray irrigation to micro or drip irrigation, with the intention of turning it off after establishing your waterwise landscaping

Making pathways and driveways more permeable

Making your landscaping an art project

San Marcos resident Jeff Moore's landscape makeover won recognition in the 2018 Landscape Makeover Contest. Photo: Water Authority

San Marcos resident Jeff Moore’s landscape makeover including artistic touches won recognition in the 2018 Landscape Makeover Contest. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Making room for a small patio with room for an outdoor table or seating

Adding pathways, Zen gardens, and interesting materials and patterns

Integrating beautiful objects such as an art piece, interesting container collection, or items like sundials

One goal we can all support: creating a beautiful sustainable landscape that reduces your water use by 70 percent or more. We can all agree on this definition of landscaping success no matter your individual goals.

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.

Vista Irrigation District Logo

Vista Irrigation District Announces WaterSmart Landscape Contest Winners

Vista, Calif. — The Vista Irrigation District board of directors recognized customers for their entries in the district’s WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual contest recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on the criteria of overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection, design, appropriate maintenance, and efficient methods of irrigation.

Landscape Makeover-Sweetwater Authority-Water Conservation-native plants

Contouring Tips Help You Make the Grade

Moving both irrigation and our limited natural rainfall through your yard into storage areas via the use of various landscaping features borrow Mother Nature’s engineering. This is especially important during hot, dry summer months. If your yard is perfectly flat, you must move soil and features around to create more water-retaining contour areas.

First, complete a Percolation Test. This will provide critically important information about your landscape soil’s specific capacity to drain and to absorb water. Prep your soil as needed to turn it into a water-retaining sponge as much as possible before getting to work on rainwater capture plans.

NOTE: If you are working with existing hillsides, it’s best to get professional advice before grading or other significant changes. Before any digging, call Dig Alert 8-1-1 or digalert.org

Adding basins and swales

Channels can be planted or lined with rocks and small boulders to resemble natural creek beds.

Channels can be planted or lined with rocks and small boulders to resemble natural creek beds. Photo: Sweetwater Authority

Basins and swales are shallow depressions or channels no more than 12 to 24 inches deep, on gently sloped or nearly flat landscapes. Basins and swales move water over short distances. The plants in and around the depressions capture and sink small volumes of surface water.

Small, shallow depressions work best in clay soil areas, while sandy soils may accommodate the deeper depressions up to two feet. Channels can be planted or lined with rocks and small boulders to resemble natural creek beds.

Building berms

Berms are mounds of raised soil, usually planted, that can border basins and swales or be used alone. Berms help contain and move water around, increasing the holding capacity of basins and swales

Placing boulders

Boulders can add points of interest and slow down water runoff in your landscaping. Photo: Water Authority

Boulders can add points of interest and slow down water runoff in your landscaping. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

Boulders are useful to retain small berms or the edges of swales. They also create points of interest in your landscaping.

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.

Unused Pool Transformed into Helix Water District 2021 Landscape Contest Winner

Mount Helix homeowner Rosalie Dosik turned her unused pool into a waterwise backyard oasis and the winning project in the Helix Water District 2021 WaterSmart Landscape Contest. The annual competition recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on overall attractiveness, design, efficient irrigation, and appropriate plant selection and maintenance.