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Source: San Diego County Water Authority

Photos, before and after, courtesy of La Mesa resident Laurie Haeger: Haeger was inspired to replace her grassy front yard with sustainable, water-efficient landscaping thanks to landscape makeover classes and resources offered by the San Diego County Water Authority. 

April 6, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- No matter whether their landscaping is just a few square feet alongside a front porch or estate acreage, thousands of San Diego County residents have learned to embrace sustainability as a central principle for creating and renovating their landscapes. 

Thanks to financial incentives and educational resources offered by the San Diego County Water Authority to customers in La Mesa, Lemon Grove and El Cajon, a sustainable and beautiful yard is more attainable than ever before. 

In fact, since 2010, the Water Authority has secured more than $8 million in grants to deliver services at no cost to San Diego County residents, including those in the Helix and Padre Dam service areas, providing WaterSmart landscape makeover classes and incentivizing the purchase and installation of drought-tolerant plants that help beautify and sustain communities. 

“After living for a while in La Mesa, I realized the green grassy landscape would have to be replaced to conserve water,” said La Mesa resident Laurie Haeger. “But after getting an irrigation checkup and participating in the landscape makeover classes, I would never have imagined the joy I get looking out over our front garden or when we drive up to the house. The energy and water savings, along with the Water Authority’s classes and resources, are the gifts that keep on giving.”

Landscape irrigation is among the highest uses of water for most homeowners and is a great place to look to save money on your water bill in the long term.

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?

  • 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 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 Botanic Garden in Encinitas. The garden is open to the public and includes informational signage introducing visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles and specific plant types that grow successfully in the region’s climate. Many are Southern California natives. Be sure to visit the garden’s website at for the latest on hours of operation and safety measures before you plan your trip to the garden.For additional resources, such as the Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook, visit Information and resources for landscaping upgrades, including WaterSmart landscape makeover classes, can be found by visiting .


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everyone should realize

this will NOT reduce your water bill. this is because of fixed costs water districts have so if they sell less water they need the money to come from some other place and the water districts will just raise the system charge. padre dam has already done this. the top person at padre dam makes $272,015.66 plus benefits! they should take a pay cut. why do top people have to make so much money? because they are greedy!!!