In June, Helix Water District completed its new demonstration landscape at its administration office in La Mesa to beautify the neighborhood and inspire others to install WaterSmart landscaping.

Eight months later, the landscape demonstrates that it does not take long for WaterSmart plants to grow into a beautiful, sustainable landscape.

“Everything is growing in beautifully,” said Helix Water District General Manager Carlos Lugo. “We started with smaller plants to reduce costs and planned for growth. We’re happy to share this resource with our customers and community.”

The demonstration landscape includes three unique water-wise gardens on the streets around the building, including a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue and a California native landscape along the building’s main entrance on Quince Street. Each garden started with smaller plants of varying colors, flowers and textures.

“The grasses in our native garden are filling in the mulched areas, creating a soft meadow-like appearance. We are also seeing the canopies of the Palo Verde trees expanding, and underneath, the succulents and agaves are blanketing the hillside, filling the landscape with color and texture,” said Lugo.

Native landscape in demonstration garden

Native landscape on Quince Street

close up of soft purple flowers on cleveland sage,

Flowering Cleveland Sage

Aloes at sunset with desert demonstration landscape in background

Desert landscape on Lee Ave

Close up of agave plant

Blue Flame Agave

The plants in all three of the gardens are adapted to San Diego’s climate and need half to a fifth of the water that a traditional lawn needs. In addition to requiring less water, WaterSmart landscapes also require less maintenance and provide habitat for local wildlife like honeybees, birds and butterflies.

In each garden, plant markers provide the name of each plant and a QR code, which when scanned with a smartphone, provide each plant’s name, sun and water needs, mature size and photo.

Customers can also use the district’s interactive webpage to make a list of their favorite plants and download each garden’s design plan. Information on efficient irrigation and rebate programs is also available.

The project was partially funded through a grant from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

VIbrant Mediterranean plants on University Ave in La Mesa

Vibrant plants in Mediterranean landscape

the administration office of Helix Water District as seen from University Ave in La Mesa

Demonstration Landscape seen from University Ave

Desert landscape in demonstration landscape

Soft plants in desert landscape

closeup of catmint flowers

Purple flowers from Catmint


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