Water-Wise Landscaping: Soak Up Eco-Friendly Landscaping Inspiration From this Carlsbad Property
What led a couple to rip out their yard and replace it with drought-tolerant foliage, plus San Diego rebates to save on water
After years of ripping out her hair trying to keep her family’s front lawn alive during the drought, Carlsbad resident Katy Heineken called on Belle Terre Landscapes to rip the lawn out instead. (It’s not as gory as it seems.) “We were tired of it all: the large water bills, not being eco-friendly—plus, it felt dated,” Heineken says. “We wanted to put things in that were colorful, wild, and free-flowing, butterfly- and bird-friendly.”
Belle Terre Landscapes owner Janet Pozzuoli-Vallin explains that the project “reinvented everything” about the three-quarter acre property, with the exception of two trees they kept. Her team carefully cut off the top layer of turf, recycled it at Evergreen Nursery, and let the yard lie unturned for a while so as to not activate any remaining grass roots.
Then they put in all drought-tolerant foliage, including some kinds that go dormant in the winter and need even less water—“think about it,” Pozzuoli-Vallin says, “When you’re sleeping, do you eat?”
There’s also drip irrigation to get moisture right to the plants’ root balls, and a layer of mulch to top it all off. “I had no attachment to the yard we used to have,” Heineken says. “Now, when I look at my new yard, I love it. It really does make me happy—and it’s less worry, because it’s less maintenance.”
Key to the Garden
Pozzuoli-Vallin favors agave for the aesthetics. “It draws your eye,” she says. “There’s so many varieties, some petite, medium, and bigger."
“Kalanchoe Lucia is a great accent in any succulent or low-water-use garden. Its colorful paddle leaves show off hues of yellow, orange, red, and green.”
3. Gorilla hair mulch (aka shredded redwood bark)
“Your goal is to always mulch, so your water stays in the dirt and doesn’t dry up as fast. I like gorilla hair, because it lasts. It stays down, doesn’t float away in the wind, or run away when it rains.”
4. Kangaroo paw
This tall plant is the homeowners’ favorite for its colors that range from reds to yellows and oranges. From a practical standpoint, Pozzuoli-Vallin adds, “they’re great in mass plantings,” and, of course, drought-tolerant.
5. Pondless water feature
What used to be a stagnant pond with little to no use is now the Heinekens’ favorite part of their front yard. The water now rests in a belowground basin and recirculates over the pebbles on the surface, similar to a fountain.
An alternative to grass, this ground cover stays green all year and is hefty enough to withstand foot traffic, like in gaps between stepping stones. “It’s like carpet,” Pozzuoli-Vallin says. “I wouldn’t encourage playing football on it, but it’s super cushy on bare feet.”