Get inspired by a WaterSmart landscape in Mt. Helix

Get inspired by a WaterSmart landscape in Mt. Helix

We love beautiful WaterSmart landscapes, and even more, we love to highlight those that our customers have installed. Join us as we highlight different Helix customers and their beautiful, water-wise, sustainable yards – and get inspired to upgrade your landscape.

Helix Customer Profile
Hultgren-Geldbach residence
Neighborhood
Mt. Helix in La Mesa

When Carey Hultgren and Paul Geldbach purchased their half-acre Mt. Helix home, they became the owners of a 3,000 square foot front yard that included a beautiful pool and a dead lawn. Ready for an upgrade, they participated in the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program and developed a design plan which included flagstone pathways, a cost-effective conversion of their existing sprinklers to MP rotators and lots of flowering, water-wise plants. They removed the dead lawn, composted over winter and began planting in spring. Currently 50 percent installed, the flowering aloes, colorful bougainvillea and sprawling yellow lantana already enhance their 1930s Spanish-style home.

BEFORE
The Hultgren-Geldbach landscape in Mt. Helix before they relandscaped.
AFTER

Q & A with the homeowner

Q: What was here before?

A: We had the remnants of a dead lawn mixed with large expanses of rocky dirt before we started planting.  We began by adding several yards of free Miramar landfill compost periodically (for about 2 years before planting).  The compost inadvertently worked well as a weed-preventative as it decomposed and made our soil healthier!

Q: Where did your design ideas come from?

A:  I had recently been to Palm Springs and stayed at The Alcazar Hotel.  They had just completed a significant landscape remodel and I picked their gardener’s brain, I was so inspired.  We wanted plants that would thrive in the highly exposed and hot upper terrace above our pool but also wanted floral color to give it a touch of the tropics.  We planted fuchsia “Barbara Karst” for background color and coral-pink “Rosenka” bougainvillea in the middle.  Hesperaloe Parviflora sent off long, rose-colored flower stems all summer long and the New Gold Lantana is intended to eventually spill over the wall towards the pool deck below. With careful placement, we located a thornless Chilean Mesquite for some filtered shade for the plants.  It is at least 25 feet from our pool. We also planted several Blue Flame Agaves, Senecio and Lemon Bean Bush.  I googled hundreds of pictures and I especially liked using a contrast of greens – from frosty gray greens to lime greens to deep jewel greens.

Q: What motivated this project?

A:  Since moving to Mt. Helix from Bay Park in 2012, we’ve been shocked by the incessant heat of our new climate zone. Although we just loved our new home, we knew we had to rethink our approach to planting and watering – especially with one-half acre to conquer. I always tell people that San Diego County is an irrigated desert and people usually find that funny, but it is so true.  Our approach has been a blend of desert plants and Mediterranean succulents with desert trees.

Q: What do you like best about your new landscape?

A: It frames the view down to our pool and the hills of Mexico in the distance.  We are now proud of our yard instead of making excuses for it.  It can take a beating in the heat and the bougainvillea just keeps blooming and blooming!  We have more to do to finish it – refining some of the plants and adding more mulch and adjusting the irrigation, but we are happy with its beginning.

Q: Are you saving water?

A:  We never had the lawn when it was living, but unequivocally yes!

Q: Does it take more or less time for maintenance?

A: Given that we had nothing but dirt and weeds before, maybe a little more. Believe it or not, our dirt patch took a lot of work with weed remediation! Since we have planted and mulched, it’s much better at keeping weeds at bay. Plus, I enjoy working on it so much more because now it gives back to me with color and beauty.

Q: Do you have any tips for other homeowners?

A: 1)  Rinse and repeat!  Use the same plants over and over again for a more finished garden with continuity and intention. Using one or two plants at a time looks random and confusing.  A good design seeks repetition, contrast and color repeats.  You can really appreciate the plants when you see several of them at once. I confess, against my better judgement I do often buy heat-loving plants spontaneously with only a vague plan for where to put them, especially if I find nice, healthy ones. But I always buy in groupings of five or seven or even nine.  I never buy just one!

2)  Mix your greens.  Explore all the different varieties of greens out there – greens with blue, gray, purple, yellow, even whitish undertones – and blend them for the best effect.

3)  Opposites attract!  Pair softer, feathery plants with sculptural plants.  The visual contrast is striking and beautiful.

 

Thank you, Hultgren-Geldbach family for sharing your lovely and sustainable landscape with us. If it looks this good already, we can’t wait to see it completely finished.

Inspired to upgrade your landscape but not sure where to start? Consider registering for a free WaterSmart Landscape Program workshop or series of classes.

Do you have a beautiful, WaterSmart landscape that you would like to share with others? Contact us at conserve@helixwater.org and you could be featured in a future blog article.

State seeking comments on future of conservation

State seeking comments on future of conservation

On November 30, 2016, state officials released Making Water Conservation a Way of Life, Implementing Executive Order B-37-16, a proposed regulatory framework for permanent, statewide conservation. If adopted, the framework could have significant, negative impacts on the economy, water rates and quality of life within our district and throughout California.

Public comments on the framework are due by next Monday, December 19, 2016. Visit our Legislative Advocacy page and share your concerns with your elected representatives. Click on the links below to read comment letters that Helix and the San Diego County Water Authority submitted this week on behalf of our customers.

Helix Comments to State Officials

Water Authority Comments to State Officials

Water Authority Key Points

 

Reserve your seats for next Landscape Design Workshop

Reserve your seats for next Landscape Design Workshop

Since every seat was reserved for our landscape design workshops in September and October, we are going to have another one on Saturday, January 21st at Helix’s Nat L. Eggert Operations Center in El Cajon.  The WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop is a free, 3-hour workshop that will show you how to have a beautiful landscape using a fraction of the water that a traditional landscape needs. The workshop is taught by one of our local landscape experts and brought to you by Helix and the San Diego County Water Authority.

You will learn

  • How to convert your turf area to water efficient landscape
  • How to select plants that thrive in our Mediterranean climate
  • How to analyze your yard, identify your soil type, remove turf and irrigate efficiently
  • How to create a professional landscape with planting and irrigation designs ready for installation

We encourage you to reserve your seats now as seating is limited and these workshops fill up fast. It’s easy to do. The reservation form is on the workshop’s webpage. Click on the link below to go there.

Reserve your seats for the January 21st workshop

Discounted rain barrels now available

Discounted rain barrels now available

Save water this winter by installing a rain barrel – and save money by taking advantage of discounts and rebates that reduce the final cost of each rain barrel to $15 before tax.

The San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies, including Helix, have partnered with the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation to offer 50-gallon rain barrels for $90 each. The rain barrels can be purchased through the Solana Center and are normally $149.

Once purchased, residents can apply for the $75 rain barrel rebate (maximum two rebates per address) available through the SoCal WaterSmart regional rebate program by December 31. The rebate will be reduced to $35 effective January 1, 2017.

Residents may pick up their rain barrels at one of four designated pick-up locations throughout the county, including the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon on December 3 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Residents must pre-order their rain barrels and choose their pick-up location before November 27. No sales will be made the day of the event.

To pre-order your discounted rain barrels, visit www.rainbarrelprogram.org/sandiego. Rebate applications are available online at www.socalwatesmart.com. More details about the partnership can be found in the San Diego County Water Authority’s news release.

Discounted rain barrels and rebates are limited and are not guaranteed.

Helix’s new Video Tips Series

Helix’s new Video Tips Series

“My water usage has really increased since my last bill and I am not sure why or what to do. Can you help?” This is a common question from our customers who are looking to reduce their water use.   And the answer is, yes, we can help!

Today the Helix Water District released its first video in its newly launched Video Tips Series.  This video focuses on what to expect when a Helix customer signs up for a free Home Water Use Evaluation.  The four minute clip walks you through the steps that Helix water conservation staff will take when they visit your home. They start with reading your meter and end with providing you with a written report of steps, tailored to your home, that you can take to reduce your water usage – both indoor and out!

The Video Tips Series will focus on things that you can do to make water conservation a California way of life.  Next up in our series is a video on how to read your meter on your own and what to look for when checking for leaks.

Interested in making a reservation for a free water use evaluation for your home? Visit us at www.hwd.com/rebates, email us at conserve@helix.org or call 619-466-0585 to schedule an appointment.

Design ideas for a water efficient landscape

Design ideas for a water efficient landscape

It’s November, which means it’s time to finish designing and start planting your water efficient landscape.

Why now? Because new plants need all of the water that a lawn needs until their roots establish, and that can take six months. Plant now and winter rainstorms will provide a lot of that water.  If you’re still working on your design, here is some design inspiration from houzz.com. Need more inspiration, and some information? Go to our landscape design webpage where you will find links to websites, videos and plans.

 

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