It’s Fix a Leak Week

It’s Fix a Leak Week

Nearly 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted in U.S. homes each year from easy-to-fix leaks. That’s why Helix is participating in Fix a Leak Week, March 19-25, and we encourage you to join us.

Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) WaterSense program, Fix a Leak Week is an opportunity to improve the water efficiency of your home by finding and fixing leaks. In the average home, household leaks waste more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. That’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry!

Go to to get started.

You’ll find four do-it-yourself projects complete with instructional videos:

  • How to check your water meter to find leaks
  • How to check your toilet for leaks
  • How to check your irrigation for leaks
  • How to check your swimming pool for leaks

If you’re not ready to tackles these projects yourself, call a handy relative, plumber or irrigation specialist to help out.

Visit the WaterSense website
Like WaterSense on Facebook
Follow WaterSense on Twitter

Water-Wise Home Garden Tour is March 24

Water-Wise Home Garden Tour is March 24

The Water Conservation Garden will host its third annual Water-Wise Home Garden Tour on March 24, 2018, 9am-3pm — and you’re invited.

The tour will highlight five beautiful gardens utilizing an array of color, variety, and low water use plants, shrubs and trees. The gardens emphasize plants from semi-arid regions of the world including Australia, New Zealand, Southwestern U.S. and South Africa.

Attendees will also have an opportunity to purchase garden/home items such as bird houses, plant pots and garden jewelry, all handmade by local artisans. In addition, attendees can speak with the homeowners about each garden, as well as knowledgeable garden docents, about how they can redesign their own landscape using drought-tolerant plants.


$25 in advance or $30 at-the-door
Available on The Garden’s website or in their gift shop

The Five Gardens You’ll See

Rita and Joel Cloud
This unusual garden is in the shape of Africa with specific areas dedicated to the couple’s cherished destinations. The Madagascar Palm is one of the focal points and a favorite. This garden is for aloe, agave, cacti, rock, and succulent lovers. Going green without the grass, beautiful flowers, trees, an array of plants and garden art will delight your senses. Enjoy your walk through Africa and watch out for animals!

Susan and Larry Nichols
A cottage-style landscape on a half-acre, this lush garden features a variety of drought-tolerant plants designed to provide a colorful and bird friendly environment. The front yard is a low water meadow filled with flowering perennials and ornamental grasses. The backyard retreat is filled with roses, succulents, fruit trees and flowering ornamentals with winding paths and even a chicken “mansion!”

Jill and Gaylord Norcross
This small, half-acre property nestled on the South slope of Mt. Helix had approximately 3,000 square feet of lawn removed to create a water-wise natural landscape. The semi-desert front yard highlights a unique variety of cactus, succulents and cycads. The back yard was designed primarily to showcase drought-tolerant native plants of the Southwest.

Amethel and Ken Parel-Sewell
Following the work of succulent expert Debra Lee Baldwin and designer Laura Eubanks, approximately 300 plants were creatively placed in their garden tapestry, with ribbons of succulents and cacti weaving throughout the garden and along the flagstone paths. This natural, outdoor room featuring hummingbirds visiting amazing succulent blooms has become an extension of their living space. This ecosystem has no gophers!

Marsha and Gary Rold
Bordering the Crestridge Ecological Reserve, this acre-plus garden began as an owner-designed retirement project after the Cedar fire burned through the neighboring open space. The landscape features natural boulders and stacked-rock borders, California native plants, water-wise selections from Australia and other Mediterranean climate regions, fruit trees, vegetable beds and strategies for critter-proofing the edible crops.

Get DOUBLE the rebate on rotary nozzles

Get DOUBLE the rebate on rotary nozzles

Photo: Rotary Nozzle (Hunter Industries)

Have we got an offer for you!

Helix is doubling the $2 per nozzle rebate on rotary nozzles for our customers. Rotary nozzles cost from $5 to $8 each, so a $4 rebate is a substantial savings. Note that you must purchase at least 30 nozzles to qualify for the rebate, but you probably need that many or more to replace the sprayheads throughout your landscape.

Why are we offering this great deal? Because most homeowners have sprayheads and sprayheads have two inefficiencies: they water quickly, which can cause the water to run off the landscape, and they produce mist, which can blow away. Rotary nozzles use 10 percent less water than sprayheads. They save water by producing large water drops and applying them slowly, giving the ground time to absorb the water.

Replacing sprayheads with rotary nozzles is a simple project because you don’t need to dig out or relocate your sprinklers. All you have to do is unscrew the sprayhead, screw on the rotary nozzle and adjust the nozzle. Watch our video below.


  • A butter knife or standard screwdriver to pry the nozzle out of the sprinkler far enough to grab it
  • A rubber jar opener to help you grip and turn sprinkler risers when your hands are wet
  • A small standard screwdriver to adjust a sprinkler’s distance (arc)


  • When you grip and turn a sprinkler’s riser to point the rotary nozzle in the right direction, you’ll hear and feel a “ratcheting” noise. Don’t worry, this is normal and you’re not breaking the sprinkler.
  • You will get a little wet, so wear the appropriate shoes and clothes.
Daylight Saving Time Starts Sunday

Daylight Saving Time Starts Sunday

Don’t forget to spring forward into Daylight Saving Time this weekend — it starts at 2 a.m. on Sunday.

While it can takes days, weeks, even months to change the clocks in your cars — yeah, we all have those stories — it would be very smart and efficient of you to change the clock on your irrigation controller this weekend, and to give your irrigation system this 4-point check-up.

Replace the Battery in Your Timer 
Replace the battery in your timer, if there is one, to make sure you don’t lose your programmed watering schedule if the power goes out. Many timers will automatically revert to watering seven days per week, ten minutes per day, after a power outage if they don’t have a good battery.

Run the Sprinkler System  
Check to make sure all your sprinkler heads are still watering your plants and not the sidewalk or street.  Give them a simple twist if they need to be redirected. Realigning your sprinkler nozzles can save 12 to 15 gallons each watering cycle.

Check for Leaks
Look for perpetually damp spots in your yard or places where water pools – these could be a sign of a leak in your sprinkler system.

Stop Irrigating When it Rains
Don’t forget to turn off your sprinklers when rain is in the forecast and leave them off for at least 72 hours afterwards.

Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to outdoor watering.  Start a new habit and check your sprinklers when you change your clocks to make sure you’re not wasting water — and paying for it.

Could your landscape inspire others?

Could your landscape inspire others?

If your water efficient landscape has grown up into something beautiful, we encourage you to enter in the 2018 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

Helix and other water agencies in the region participate each year in the contest because showcasing beautiful, water-efficient landscapes can inspire other homeowners to install one of their own.

Entries are due by April 30 and the winner receives a $250 gift certificate. Landscapes are judged based on attractiveness, plant selection, design, maintenance and irrigation.

Learn More About the Contest

Capturing Rainwater: March 18 at The Garden

Capturing Rainwater: March 18 at The Garden

The Water Conservation Garden will host an expert forum on Capturing Rainwater: the Barrel and Beyond in Landscape Design, on Sunday, March 18, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Rainfall is a scarce commodity in San Diego, and our local experts will discuss how to incorporate swales, improved drainage and water collection, storage and distribution systems into a new or existing landscape. The Garden will serve light refreshments and a tour of the rainwater collection features throughout The Garden will follow.


Diane Downey is an experienced landscape consultant, contractor, and designer. She teaches classes on rainwater capture, soil health, the use of native plants, turf removal, and efficient irrigation. She co-hosts the Earth Friendly Homeowner podcast and serves as the chair of San Diego Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Committee.

Glen Schmidt is a landscape architect. Founder and president of Schmidt Design Group, for over 30 years, he has designed environmentally-friendly private and public places that strive for low impact and water conservation.  Public projects he has worked on include Stone Brewing gardens in Escondido and Liberty Station, the Solana Beach Coastal Rail Trail, Briercrest Park in La Mesa, and the Horton Plaza Park.

Albert Barlow is general manager, owner and operator of Rain Water Systems.  A licensed contractor with landscape and sheet metal licenses, he has been installing all types of gutters and collection systems for 35 years.  He is one of Southern California’s most prolific installers of rain water systems, specializing in fully automated rain-based irrigation systems


$10 non-members; $5 members; students with current ID free.

Register online at

Don’t miss March 17 gardening seminar

Don’t miss March 17 gardening seminar

The Master Gardener Association of San Diego County is hosting an all-day Spring Seminar on March 17, with classes on gardening basics, citrus, succulents, pest management, tree selection, raising chickens, drought tolerant landscapes, drip irrigation and more.

If you are looking for landscaping advice, ask a Master Gardener. They receive intensive horticultural training and then volunteer in their communities by giving lectures, creating gardens and conducting research — to help other gardeners accomplish their goals.

The goal of the Spring Seminar is to improve the gardening practices of San Diego County residents who grow ornamental and edible plants by providing practical information on non-commercial home horticultural and pest management related topics. Proceeds from the seminar are used to pay related expenses and to support Master Gardener public education activities.

The event runs from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the San Diego County Operations Center located at 5520 Overland Avenue in Kearny Mesa. There will be three class sessions — with a myriad of classes offered in each session — and the Marketplace, where you can browse and buy plants, books and “all things gardening”,

Learn more and register early(!) on the association’s website


How Beer Will Save Western Rivers

How Beer Will Save Western Rivers

From Outside Magazine — 
Six summers ago, Kim Schonek, her husband, and an intern slid their kayaks into Arizona’s Verde River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. As they paddled, above them rose a rare cottonwood-willow canopy that teems with the densest population of tropical and native birds in North America. Half a mile into their trip, the river slowed, then dwindled to a trickle, until their kayaks scratched against the rocks. Schonek suggested they portage to the next flow. So they dragged their boats—for five miles.

Read More

Next Landscape Design Workshop is January 20th!

Next Landscape Design Workshop is January 20th!

Reserve Your Seats!

Learn everything you need to know — from a local landscape expert — to transform your yard into a beautiful, water-saving landscape. Our FREE 3-hour WaterSmart Landscape Design Workshop is on Saturday, January 20, from 9:00am to noon. 

You’ll Learn
— How to convert your turf area to a water efficient landscape
— How to select plants that will thrive in our Mediterranean climate
— How to analyze your yard, identify soil, remove turf & irrigate efficiently
— How to create a professional landscape, planting & irrigation designs ready for installation

Preparing for rain this winter

Preparing for rain this winter

While a typical San Diego rainstorm drops about 0.6” of rain, most of this water runs off into our storm drains, creeks and watersheds which can be overloaded and cause the damage and flooding that we are all familiar with.

One of the best things you can do is to slow the flow and take advantage of whatever rain we get during these events. Here are some quick projects that you can do to protect your home, save water and make sure that rainwater is put to its maximum use.

How to Harvest Rainwater

Aerate compacted soils
Aeration helps loosen up the soil so that more oxygen and water can move into the soil. This increases the amount of water that can be absorbed by the landscape rather than puddling or running off.

Clean out your rain gutters and filters
Clearing the gutters of debris will ensure that rainwater will be diverted to the basins, tanks, and the drains that it was intended to go in. Also, clogged gutters can cause damage to your rain gutters or flooding to your home.

Protect home and utility lines from vegetation
Late fall is a good time to trim and prune back plants because plants have slowed their growth from the diminishing sunlight. Trim back any vegetation that could cause damage if it were to fall or break during a storm.

Mulch exposed soil
Mulching helps protect the soil from being directly struck by raindrops which would cause erosion. Mulch areas 3” -4” deep and keep mulch 4” – 5” away from the trunks of any trees or shrubs. This layer of mulch will also help choke out weeds and reduce water evaporation in the soil throughout the year.

Rain Barrel

Get a Rebate on Rain Barrels
Rebates are available for Rain Barrels (50 gallons) and Cisterns (over 200 gallons) that store rainwater for a later use. Visit for more info!

Install a rain catchment basin
We offer classes on sustainable landscapes that slow the flow and maximize the use of rain. If you can’t attend one of our classes please check out the videos on demand series to learn about these functional water saving landscapes.

Rain Garden

Fall Back

Fall Back

Adjust your irrigation timers this Sunday.

This Sunday, November 5, marks the end of daylight savings time. After you set your clocks back, take a few minutes and adjust your irrigation timer as well.

Your plants need less water as the days get shorter and cooler, so fall is the perfect time to cut back on your watering days and times. Making seasonal adjustments to your timer not only reduces water waste, but it also helps keep your landscape healthy.

If you don’t have time to manually adjust your timer, consider upgrading to a weather-based irrigation controller which adjusts watering times automatically based on the changing weather. Rebates for weather-based irrigation controllers are available at

Finally, use daylight savings as a reminder to make sure the batteries in your irrigation timer are still good. In the event your timer loses power, many timers default to daily watering schedules unless you have battery back-up, which can lead to overwatering.