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July 24, 2012 > A beautiful yard that saves water and money

A beautiful yard that saves water and money

By Richard P. Santos

It's summer barbeque season, which means it is your landscape's time to shine. But did you know that landscaping accounts for about half of a typical household's water use? That's why, across Santa Clara Valley, new water-efficient landscapes are sprouting up all over. With a cash rebate from the Santa Clara Valley Water District, switching to an attractive, low water-use yard means saving money as well as water.

Many people have the misconception that a water-wise yard means a sparse, desert landscape. The truth is that water-efficient gardens can be colorful, aromatic, fruit-bearing and easy to maintain. By incorporating water-efficient gardening techniques, you can create a beautiful garden while reducing irrigation water usage from 20 to 80 percent.

And, the water district may be able to help foot the bill for landscape improvements. Its Landscape Rebate Program is designed to assist homeowners and commercial, industrial and institutional property owners increase efficiency of outdoor water use by converting qualifying high water-use landscape or upgrading to qualifying high-efficiency irrigation equipment. Simple changes in plant type and irrigation methods can greatly reduce the water required for an attractive landscape. There are many plants that use surprisingly little water. There are also several irrigation equipment upgrades that can increase your irrigation system's efficiency which can result in saving water and saving money.

A recent Landscape Rebate Program customer told us, "We get amazing compliments from people who walk past. People are surprised that it's water-wise. They don't realize that being water-wise can be beautiful and have a lot of green."

There are a number of requirements to qualify for the rebate. For instance, a minimum of 100 square feet of qualifying high water using landscape must be converted, and 50 percent of plant coverage in the converted area must be listed on the water district's Qualifying Plant List. These plants are considered low and very low water using plants adaptable to our local climate. Also, the converted area must include a sufficient number of qualifying water efficient plants to ensure at least 50 percent of the area is covered with living plants when the plants are fully grown. A full list of the requirements is available on our website, www.valleywater.org.

Please note, you should not begin your landscape conversion or irrigation hardware upgrade projects until a district representative has conducted a pre-inspection survey and you have received a written notice to proceed from the water district.

All of these programs are part of the water district's effort to ensure a clean, reliable supply of water into the future. As population increases, all of us must use the water we have more efficiently. In fact, in 2009, all cities in California were mandated to reduce per capita water use by 20 percent by 2020.

For more information on our water-saving programs and workshops, call the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630- 2554 or visit www.save20gallons.org.

As always, I am available for questions or comments as your District 3 representative for the northern areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara; Alviso; Milpitas; and the north San Jose and Berryessa communities. Feel free to contact me at (408) 234-7707.

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