We have been reducing our home water use for many years and have recently been approved to proceed with a landscape redesign as part of the Landscape Rebate Program of the Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD). In April 2015, we started the process of replacing our 1006 square feet of water-hungry front lawn with a garden that needs less irrigation. During the last four months while the severe California drought has helped our our lawn to die, John and Paul and I have completed these process steps:
- “Pre-Inspection Survey” by Conservision – in which our eligible landscaping was officially measured and evaluated and reported to SCVWD, 8 May 2015.
- Returned “Landscape Rebate Program Request for Application Form” to SCVWD, 8 May 2015.
- Received blank “Landscape Rebate Program Application Form” from SCVWD – mailed to us 3 June 2015
- Returned “Landscape Rebate Program Application Form” to SCVWD – mailed 22 June 2015, complete with detailed garden diagrams (created using Garden Planner software) with plant, materials, and irrigation equipment lists. This required much cross checking of the Sunset Western Garden Book against the SCVWD Qualifying Plant List – as well as family discussions about what we want at the end of this process.
- Received “Notice to Proceed” from SCVWD, dated 28 July 2015.
In designing the new garden, I was very disappointed that many of the California native plants I had originally thought to use in my landscape design were marked in the Qualifying Plant List as having “Genetic Concerns”. I think most home gardeners will be like me – unwilling to hire/pay a plant ecologist (or find a qualifying native plant database) to determine the local wild populations. I ended up picking from listed plants that are non-natives.
“*G = Genetic Concerns This genus contains species native to Santa Clara County or cultivars that have parents which are native to Santa Clara County. Consult a plant ecologist or native plant database to determine if your landscape project is located within 5 miles of wild populations. If so, please follow these suggestions to protect local genetic integrity: 1) select a local ecotype 2) avoid use of cultivars or hybrids, especially those with non-local or unknown parentage and 3) avoid use of nonnative ornamentals which share the same genus in order to prevent unnatural hybridization.” (from the SCVWD Qualifying Plant List)
I think that the complex and drawn-out application process assumes that most people will be hiring a landscaping company to do the work. The Landscape Conversion Rebate potentially pays $2 per square foot for converting high water using landscape to low water using landscape (through December 31, 2015). SCVWD will only reimburse for materials (plants, equipment, dirt, mulch, rocks), not labor, so even with the rebate this could be a very expensive project for those who cannot do the work themselves. My planting list includes:
- Phormium – flax (purple/brown)
- Bearded iris (red and purple and yellow)
- Muhlenbergia rigens – deer grass
- Helictotrichon sempervirens – Blue oat grass
- Verbena lilacina (purple)
- Verbena peruviana (red)
- Achillea tomentosa – woolly yarrow (yellow/grey)
- Agapanthus inapertus (purple)
- Narcissus – daffodils (yellow)
- Dymondia margaretae (yellow/grey)
I have 90 days from 28 July to finish!
Photo Copyright 2015 by Katy Dickinson. Diagram created using Garden Planner software