Water Wise Garden Contest Winner Announced
updated: Aug 21, 2014, 2:39 PM
Source: Water Wise
Garden Contest Greenery Saves Water While Beautifying Grounds
Concha Loma residents design oasis in sandy terrain, win recognition
Carpinteria - With the results cast in stone, Jim and Tanya Taylor's front yard
now proudly displays a monument declaring them the winners of the Carpinteria
Valley Water District 2014 WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest.
Water Wise in Santa Barbara County sponsored the first annual garden contest
last year highlighting the water-saving efforts of local gardeners. This year's
contest focused on homes in Carpinteria. Rhonda Gutierrez, Water Conservation
Specialist for CVWD and contest coordinator, said that all of the applicants
were excited to participate and hopeful that they would take top honors.
"The judges got to see some very creative landscaping, unique designs and
several different ways to maintain a beautiful yard while saving water,"
Gutierrez explained. "It was hard to decide, but the innovative ideas at the
Taylor's home put them over the top."
The Taylors moved into the 1950's era fixer-upper near the beach in the Concha
Loma neighborhood of Carpinteria three years ago. During the renovation, the
Bermuda grass lawn was destroyed, giving the couple a fresh canvas to design
their winning garden.
"As we finished the remodel, we wanted landscaping that would be low maintenance
and low on water use, " said Jim Taylor. "We used a hose to set up boundaries,
deciding that we were not going to install sprinklers. Initially, we didn't even
plan on a drip system. We figured we would plant what we liked and it would be
survival of the fittest. "
While workers did some of the digging and heavy lifting, Taylor said that he and
Tanya laid out the plans. It took two months to design and one month to
"We're not landscape designers, but we know what we like," he said. "As we were
planting, we had a lot of encouragement from people who would come by, neighbors
and people walking their dogs would ask ‘what's that?' and tell us the garden
was coming along nicely."
Soon the former expansive lawn was replaced by gravel paths and hillocks,
planted with a casual mix of grasses, succulents, bushes and fruit trees. Chip
gravel for paths was placed directly on the ground, without using fabric.
Topsoil was brought in to make the hillocks. The property, which is only 900
feet from the ocean, has very sandy soil, which Taylor described as
"hydrophobic," explaining that water poured on the soil just balls up and rolls
The Taylors knew that trees would establish deep roots and planted several fruit
trees, such as cherimoya, fig, lime, banana and avocado. They also planted
fruitless olive, which they trim into a hedge at the front of the house.
Every morning, Taylor carries out a bucket full of water - about two gallons -
collected as the shower warms up. He pours this into a ceramic pot system he
rigged with a drip line and not a drop is wasted. Discharge water from a reverse
osmosis system in the kitchen also pipes out to the shrubs and groundcover. For
the rest of the gardens, a conservative hand-watering once a week allows them to
Along with the trees, plants in the award-winning garden include burgundy and
cherry cabbage tree, red apple, foxtail agave, succulent ground covers blue
fingers and silver carpet, "after dark" peppermint willow, pink muhly grass,
rock purslane, New Zealand flax, yucca rostrata, Mexican grass tree and
fireworks fountain grass.
Jim Taylor also serves on the board of the Carpinteria Valley Association, a
group of concerned environmentalists who advocate for protection of natural
resources. He sees their garden on the beach path as a way to educate passerby
about the plants and their care.
"Our water bills are pretty low," he said. "A garden like this is easy. I'm
constantly telling people not to put in sod. And the garden is a great way to
break up my day, coming out here to pull a weed or two or water, or just
appreciate the outdoors."
Participants were judged in four categories: overall appearance, water-wise
plant selection, design and efficient methods of irrigation. Bonus points were
given for innovative water saving features, wildlife habitat and permeable
Carpinteria Valley Water District's WaterWise Garden Recognition contest is just
one of many programs available to Santa Barbara County residents to help them
WaterWise in Santa Barbara County is a water conservation and awareness program
created by the Network of Santa Barbara County Water Providers, a collaborative
group of 14 agencies. The goal of WaterWiseSB is to provided residents with
information and techniques to deal with drought and conserve water at home, in
the landscape and at work. Participants in WaterWiseSB are doing their part to
save money, save water and save Santa Barbara. For more details, visit www.waterwisesb.com
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