15 Great Ideas for a Lawn-Free Yard

15 Great Ideas for a Lawn-Free Yard

On houzz.com:
The lawn has enjoyed decades of popularity, and while there are still plenty of things to love about a great lawn, that expanse of green can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth. Check out these 15 inspiring examples of yards using gravel, stone, native plantings and more, for fire-safe, drought-conscious and easy alternatives to the traditional green.

Read the story and enjoy the photos


Lake Jennings open every day in July

Lake Jennings open every day in July

It’s sum, sum, summertime and Lake Jennings is open every day in July. Why are we opening the lake every day? So that when school starts in September, your kids will have the best stories about kayaking, catching a bass, camping out, roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. It gets better: we have tipis, kayaks and fishing boats for you to rent, and every Tuesday you can launch your own boat for free. Spend July at the lake!

Go to Lakejennings.org or Facebook.com/lakejennings

How we maintain a reliable water supply (video)

How we maintain a reliable water supply (video)

Maintaining a reliable water supply for our customers requires the continuous, 24/7 operation and maintenance of Helix’s water distribution system:













Procurement, installation, maintenance and replacement of each of the thousands of components in our water distribution system is the responsibility of Helix’s operations staff. They are the best at what they do, and nobody works harder.

How to grow beautiful Bougainvillea

How to grow beautiful Bougainvillea

From Garden Design Magazine —
Want to add some color to your landscape? You need a flower that isn’t afraid of San Diego’s hot, dry weather, and Bougainvillea is it. This fantastic article shows you the different varieties of Bougainvillea and explains how to use it as a vine or groundcover, soil preferences and how to water it. Note that East County is in Zone 10 — Bougainvillea’s favorite zone — of the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone System.

Explore Bougainvillea in Garden Design Magazine

The 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner is . . .

The 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner is . . .

Helix Water District has named Carey Hultgren and Paul Geldbach of La Mesa as the winner of its 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest, an annual competition that recognizes outstanding water-wise residential landscapes based on design and overall attractiveness, appropriate plant selection and maintenance, and irrigation methods.

This 1930s Spanish-style home on Dutton Lane sits on a 0.67-acre lot and now uses 40 percent less water than it consumed a few short years ago. Over the two-month billing period ending this April, this home used just 14 units of water.  One unit is 748 gallons.

Hultgren and Geldbach purchased the property in 2012 and, at the time, the only landscaping was dead sod, dying trees and a swimming pool. Rather than trying to rehabilitate the thirsty lawn, Hultgren and Geldbach slowly transitioned their property into a colorful, complimentary, and climate-appropriate landscape.

Incredibly, the two completed the design, installation and maintenance of their Spanish oasis on their own. “Yes, it has taken us a long time! But I believe the extra time spent has been worth the money we’ve saved and the pride of ownership we gained in the process.”

How They Did It

Hultgren attended the San Diego County Water Authority’s free WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program in 2015 and within a few months they were ready to break ground. Since then, this do-it-yourself duo has completed a great amount of work.

“We’ve installed 26 water-wise trees and countless drought tolerant plants. We continue to refine and add to the landscape every spare moment we have,” said Hultgren.

The work first involved clearing the land with multiple truckloads of dead plant material and then rebuilding the sun-scorched soil. They hauled in over 40 yards of compost and mulch to provide the new plants with nutrients and help the soil retain moisture.

Next on the list was irrigation for the new plants. Fortunately, the old lawn had an irrigation system. The couple retrofitted the system with efficient rotating nozzles and avoided the expense and labor of installing a completely new system.

Lastly, the couple carefully selected, arranged and installed the colorful, low-water-use plants. Now that the plants are established, Hultgren and Geldbach can turn the irrigation system off from late fall to spring with nothing but the occasional hand-watering in between.

“In fact, we deeply watered the Palo Verdes along the driveway the first year to get their root systems established and we haven’t watered them or the 20 octopus agaves…for about one and a half years! This spring, the trees have thanked us with a spectacular flower show.”

Hultgren and Geldbach wrote in their contest application that, “It’s gratifying to see that our efforts to conserve water with careful plant selections, irrigation retrofitting and mulch maintenance has been paying off with a lower water bill than some of our neighbors, plus a more colorful landscape.”

As this year’s winners, Hultgren and Geldbach will receive the following prizes – a $250 gift card, a certificate, as well as a WaterSmart Landscape Contest winner’s sign to display in their yard.

Photos of Hultgren’s and Geldbach’s yard will appear in the winners section at landscapecontest.com, along with Helix Water District’s past winners and the winners from other local water agencies. Helix will also feature the couple and their landscape at hwd.com, the district’s own website.

Next Year’s Contest

The 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest will begin around January next year and the deadline for submissions will be in late April.  Look for information about the 2019 contest at hwd.com, Facebook.com/HelixWater and Twitter@HelixWater.

Governor approves permanent water conservation rules

Governor approves permanent water conservation rules

Yesterday — after two years of analysis, lobbying and debate between water suppliers, environmental groups, state officials and legislators — Governor Brown signed two bills into law that establish permanent water use restrictions throughout California.

The new laws require Helix and other urban water suppliers to set and comply with annual water use targets — water budgets — based on three factors:

  • An allowance for customers of 55 gallons per person per day for indoor water use
  • A yet-to-be determined allowance for customers for outdoor water use 
  • A cap on water distribution system leaks

Helix customers should note that their water use may already be 55 gallons or less per person per day indoors. The average daily water use of Helix customers this year — indoor and outdoor use combined — is just over 97 gallons per person.

It’s also important to note that Helix already has permanent, year-round water use efficiency measures in place, as do many Southern California water suppliers. This is not the case, however, statewide.

What concerns water suppliers is the yet-to-be determined allowance for outdoor water use. Property owners should expect something along the lines of the maximum applied water allowance (MAWA) for new development in California. The MAWA limits new residential landscapes to 55 percent of the water needed for a healthy lawn, and new non-residential landscapes to 45 percent.

Drive around La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove and you will see that many Helix customers will be okay with an outdoor water allowance, because they already installed water efficient landscapes. You’ll also see properties that emerged from five years of drought with no landscape left. But the remaining lawns and tropical backyards in our service area could be an issue.

Helix’s annual water use target will be based on the total square feet of irrigated landscape in our service area and the yet-to-be determined equivalent of the MAWA. Water suppliers that do not meet their annual target face fines of $1,000 per day.

The State Water Resources Control Board will go to work now, deciding what the outdoor water use allowance will be. Water suppliers need to establish their annual water use targets by 2022.

Read the San Jose Mercury News Story

Read Assembly Bill 1668

Read Senate Bill 606