As in most cases, undertaking a project like this wasn’t a simple decision. Erica’s Mission Canyon home was her husband’s childhood home, filled with family history, memories and, until 2014, a large front lawn. With inspiration from her boss’ own adoption of a water wise landscape, Erica decided it was time for her family to make the leap as well. She received assistance by participating in the City’s Smart Landscape Rebate Program and a rain garden workshop with Sweetwater Collaborative. After nearly a year since replacing the lawn, her household has reduced its water use by 57%!
Reflecting on the most enjoyable things related to her new landscape, Erica explained, "We have amazing wildlife in our yard now. Before with the grass, there was nothing going on. Now we have butterflies hatching in the yard, baby lizards, more birds... it’s a lot of fun. Our yard has come alive."
Over a decade ago, Joan attended horticulture school to learn more about water wise plants. Later the Calders were inspired to install their first water wise landscaping project nine years ago during a remodel of their home. They decided to strip their water-guzzling lawn and started fresh. Today, their yard is full of pollinator plants, natives, and fruit trees.
In the spring of 2014, the Calders hosted a workshop with the nonprofit Sweetwater Collaborative, and installed a laundry-to-landscape graywater system on their property. Their passion for water conservation even led them to install four 250-gallon water catchment tanks underneath their deck to capture rainwater runoff. After nine years, they have cut their water use dramatically, captured and reused thousands of gallons of water every year and provided a lovely habitat for both themselves and the critters living amongst them.
“Think about every drop of water that you are using, start there,” said Chef Robért Perez of the downtown Seagrass Restaurant and sister restaurant The Black Sheep. Chef Perez is not only passionate about his culinary creations, he is also dedicated to keeping his restaurants water wise.
“I saw water and money flowing down the drain,” said Chef Perez as he outlined his drive to cut his water use. Even after adding The Black Sheep restaurant next door to the same water meter, was able to cut his water use and his water bill by 50%!
Atop the American Riviera, we sat with Jules B. to inquire how he was able to cut his water bill in half and still maintain a beautiful garden. Jules and his wife pulled up stakes from New Jersey and landed in Santa Barbara years ago to enjoy their retirement. Surveying the dry surroundings, one of the first issues they had to come to terms with was the act of watering outdoor plants. Jules explained, "The whole concept of watering your plants was a foreign concept given how much precipitation we had on the east coast."
Jules started down the water wise road by realizing the impacts of his gardener’s relatively wasteful watering style at the time. To address this, Jules’ first major action was to install a water conserving drip system and efficient spray nozzles throughout the property.
Amy Schneider and her family live on a high profile, sunny corner off La Cumbre Road. Three years ago, her yard was a sprawling lawn that was, as she put it, 'sucking up a lot of water.’ With a desire to be more water wise but also keep a beautiful yard and provide ample space for her children to play, she contacted the City of Santa Barbara about replacing her lawn.
"It wasn't that hard to make the change, and we were offered a great city rebate. We worked with a great landscape designer, Arianna Jansma Landscape Design, and it was a pretty simple process," explained Amy of her dealings with the City. Amy and family decided to make the jump.