Water wise landscaping is hard. But with 50% of water used outdoors wasted, western states’ history of droughts, and ongoing climate change, it is essential. Our 5-year transformation from water intensive to water wise gardens, and all the learnings along the way, inspire this blog.

Let me back up to the beginning. In late 2011 we moved to Southern California and, guided by local experts, redid our landscaping with low-water plants and drip irrigation. Like millions of others, we didn’t know it was year 1 of a deep drought. Come early 2014, our district began rationing and we faced the seemingly impossible challenge of a 50% cut in water beyond what we had already done.

Rather than halve irrigation as advised or drill a well as others did, I set out to be sustainable. Research and analysis inspired sea changes in our designs, plantings, and practices. Now, after multiple redos, 5 years of drought, and 3 years of rationing, we enjoy healthier gardens that need far less water and maintenance.

This metamorphosis became a ray of hope after 2015’s first statewide rationing. Thirty-five Association of Professional Landscape Designers toured our gardens. Montecito Magazine’s “Sustainable Gardening” featured us plus Lotusland and La Huerta at Old Mission. Area seminar organizers invited me to present, a renowned journalist took garden photos for a new book, and homeowners and businesses sought my help.

Landscapingwaterwise.com shares what, why, and how to retool landscapes for sustainability, including:

Patti Prairie

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