Have you ever looked out at your yard and felt that all the empty space needed some retooling and revival? Nearly two years ago we did just that when we replaced the tired and overgrown groundcover at our administrative offices in La Mesa with a WaterSmart demonstration garden. What started as a collection of small plants and a lot of mulch has grown into a lush, colorful and diverse landscape. Small plants can quickly blossom into a fantastic garden.

“Our demonstration landscape is here to show customers that water-efficient landscaping can compliment everyone’s personal taste,”

Our demonstration garden has three unique plant palettes: a Mediterranean garden on University Avenue, a desert landscape on Lee Avenue and a California native garden on Quince Street.

“Our demonstration landscape is here to show customers that water-efficient landscaping can complement everyone’s personal taste,” said Helix Water District’s Board President Kathleen Coates Hedberg during the installation in 2020. “There isn’t just one single style of landscaping that saves water and money. It’s a great showcase out in the community that we too are doing our part saving water with this beautiful landscape.”

Flowers, soft colors and fragrant plants from Mediterranean climate zones, including rosemary, catmint and flax lily fill our Mediterranean garden. The desert landscape contains vibrant and airy plants like ocotillo, barrel cactus and Palo Verde trees, and our California native garden has plants that grow naturally in California and are drought tolerant and wildlife friendly, like monkey flower, bush sunflower and the strawberry madrone tree.

Use the side arrows to see our landscape grow.

Native Garden 2020
Native Garden 2022
Mediterranean Garden 2020
Mediterranean Garden 2022
Mediterranean Garden 2020
Mediterranean Garden 2022

Outdoor landscape water use accounts for 30-60% of an average household’s total water usage, with higher volumes of usage coming from homes that have water-dependent plants and less efficient irrigation systems. The plants featured in our three gardens are right at home in eastern San Diego County’s climate and flourish on half, a third or a fifth of the water that traditional lawns need. You can save a significant amount of water and save money on your water bill, too.

The demonstration garden makes it easy to learn about the WaterSmart plants that inspire you. Plant markers, placed along the sidewalk with each plant, show the plant name along with a QR code, which when scanned, shows more photos and gives information about the plant’s name, sun and water needs, and mature size.

red yucca plant

QR codes on the plant markers link to information about each plant in the garden. 

We recognize that relandscaping can be daunting – especially because of the length of time it can take for some plants to grow. Within eight months it was filling in nicely, and now, two years in, our garden has blossomed and is lush, full and rich with color.

There are also turf removal rebates of up to $4 per square foot available to help cover the costs when you remove your grass and replace it with WaterSmart, sustainable landscaping. (Visit SoCal Water$mart for more information.)

Now is a great time to upgrade your landscape! Visit our demonstration garden in La Mesa and get inspired to create your own WaterSmart landscape.

Native garden grown in in 2022

Native garden on Quince Steet, filled in after 2 years of growth. 


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