Our trip to the San Diego Water Conservation Garden.

When you think of your ideal front lawn, what comes to mind? A 5,000 square foot lawn covered in the lush, green grass? Now, that does sound great, but a lawn like that typically requires a lot of water to maintain. It takes about half of a gallon (0.623 gallons) of water to provide one square foot of your lawn with one inch of water. If you have a 5,000 square foot lawn, you will be using 3,115 gallons of water every time you water it! Imagine the amount of water and money you could save by switching to a water-efficient lawn instead! At SWE, we love the idea of a water-conserving garden/lawn. There are several different types of plants and materials you can use to substitute grass that will not only help you save water, but will look beautiful as well.

We stopped by the Water Conservation Garden here in San Diego to learn more about the types of plants and techniques we can use to create a unique and sustainable lawn. The garden is six acres of greenery and plant life. It’s perfect for all ages, and it’s dog friendly! There are many activities that the Garden provides for families, including The Dorcas E. Utter Butterfly Pavilion and the Ms. Smarty-Plants™ Youth Education Program. The Garden is set up so that you can walk through and enjoy the scenery, while also learning about the plants and ecosystem along the way. It is the perfect place to go for inspiration for those looking to create their own water efficient garden or lawn. They even have potted plants for sale to get you started! We took home two plants as our souvenirs for our day at the Garden. 

When it comes to plants, there are many species that thrive in California that are drought tolerant and don’t require much water. They can withstand a significant amount of sun as well! For example, many people know that succulents are a good beginner plant to grow and maintain because they store water for longer periods of time and can grow in drier climates. A lot of the plants that do well in California are typically the drought-tolerant, sun-loving, less-water-using species. To find out which types of plants will do well in your yard or garden, it’s important to know what Plant Hardiness Zone you are in. This map shows the different zones in California and throughout the rest of the United States. Once you find out which zone you live in, you can pick out plants that do well in that location. 

Some of our favorite examples of plants that will suit a water-efficient garden are:

  • Matilija Poppies
  • Shrub Daisies
  • Mexican Bush Sage
  • Kangaroo Paw
  • Pride of Madeira
  • New Zealand Flax
  • Fruitless Olive Trees
  • Siskiyou Pink Gaura
  • Dwarf Bottlebrush

The key to a garden isn’t always just about the plants, but what they are planted in. For water conservation gardens, it’s always helpful and recommended to use some type of mulch. Mulch acts as an insulation; it keeps water from evaporating as fast and lowers the temperature of the soil. Several types of mulches can be used with the same result. Rocks or plastic mulches, sawdust, straw, bark, grass clippings, mosses, etc. can all be used as mulch for your garden. Organic mulches can decompose and maintain a healthy ecosystem for your plants as well! Having a tree in the yard that doesn’t require a bunch of water to maintain can also be helpful in keeping the soil cooler and slowing down the rate of evaporation.

Having a water-efficient garden can be an eye-catching and rewarding addition to your home. The proof is in how much water and money you can save by switching! Check out Water Efficient Gardens’ water-saving calculator here. For more information about drought-tolerant plants, mulches, and designs, check out the Water Conservation Garden in person or head to their website. Feel free to contact us as well for any questions or suggestions you have as well! We love to see all of the unique and creative ways people construct their gardens!