Carpinteria Resident Wins the WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest

Carpinteria Resident Wins the WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest title=
Carpinteria Resident Wins the WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest
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Source: Santa Barbara County Public Works

The 2021 WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest launched this spring to recognize beautiful, water-efficient residential gardens throughout Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara County Water Agency and participating water providers, including the City of Santa Barbara, Montecito Water District, Carpinteria Valley Water District, and Vandenberg Village Community Services District, encouraged residents to enter the running for an agency award and the countywide grand prize. A winner from each participating water provider’s service areas received an engraved sandstone sign to display in their gardens.

The County grand prize winner was Donna Grubisic of Carpinteria for her beautiful, water-thrifty pollinator garden.

Motivated by the 1990s drought, Ms. Grubisic removed her lawn and transformed her yard into a beautiful retreat for pollinators. She and her daughter designed the garden together, focusing on plants that would bring color and attract bees, butterflies, and birds to the front yard. Ms. Grubisic, who has raised monarch butterflies and bees in the past, wanted to create a habitat for these species. The garden is water efficient and has no irrigation system installed; it is hand-watered with a pressure-activated garden nozzle and uses rainwater captured in three 300-gallon cisterns attached to the side of the house. The garden features a downspout redirect into a dry creek bed as well as permeable pavers and walkways. Donna and her daughter continue to maintain the garden together and enjoy finding ways to update its design and colors.

Other finalists for the grand prize and winners in their respective regions were George Hopwood and Joseph Navarro of Santa Barbara, Susan and Howard Silver of Montecito, and Colleen Newkirk of Vandenberg Village. The winning gardens encompassed stunning displays of water-wise and native plants, high-efficiency irrigation and a rain garden demonstration. Photos of each garden can be seen at

These home gardens demonstrate that water-wise, sustainable landscapes can be lush and colorful, low maintenance, and provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. Many winners replaced their original lawns and now enjoy the added benefit of a lower water bill.

After a dry winter, it is important to recognize residents who are doing their part to be water-wise while maintaining a beautiful garden.

Residents throughout Santa Barbara County can visit to learn about the Garden Contest winners, water-wise gardening, rainwater harvesting, DIY videos and more.

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