Yucaipa Valley Water District Announces Winners of its First Annual Water-Efficient Landscaping Contest

Everyone was a winner in Yucaipa Valley Water District’s first annual water-efficient landscape design contest.
     “We received only seven award submissions, so we decided to give everyone recognition for their efforts and we will hope to have better participation next year,” said Joseph Zoba, YVWD’s general manager.
       Winners in the drought-tolerant landscape category included Thomas and Charlene Drake, who won first place with a landscape that features rocks arranged to create a fake dry river bed that runs through their yard.
       “The use of dry river beds with decomposed granite help to add interest and cover parts of our yard that require no water,” the Drakes said in a prepared statement, adding,  “We use a drip system for shrubs and trees and used drought tolerant and/or native plants and trees. We topped the planted area with a four-inch layer of gorilla hair (mulch). This helps retain moisture for the plants, reduces weeds, insects and disease.”
        The Drakes’ garden features pink dawn chipalta, palo verde, desert willow, butterfly bush, red shrub bougainvillea, Texas rangers, purple desert sage, corral yucca and touch lily.
        Philip and Denise Abbott took second place with their 10-year-old drought tolerant yard, which they complement with roses. “The yard has a built-in sprinkler system that we only use in the summer months when it’s really hot,” the Abbotts said in their statement, noting that the only plants that require extra watering are their roses. “Some friends have used our example to landscape their own yard. With the current state of water in California, coupled with the move toward drought-tolerant landscaping, we feel happy to do our part here in Yucaipa,” the Abbotts said.
       Terrie Andrews came in third place with a garden featuring native California plants. “I wanted to re-do my front yard landscaping to be Waterwise and have easy maintenance,” she said, adding, “I worked with Sunshine Pavers to create a landscape that used all native California plants and a drip irrigation system. We created a beautiful rock river with both a lighted bridge and a separate walkway to lead from one side of the yard to the RV parking pad on the other.”
       Honorable mentions were given to Yvonne Howie Cruz, Gus and Andrea Saavedra and Brey Sanchez, each of whom found unique benefits to using drought tolerant landscaping and even artificial turf around their homes.
       “We went with artificial turf, DG and Cedar Mulch to cut back drastically on watering,” Sanchez said. “We also chose plans that not only would require minimal maintenance, but minimal water, such as purple hopseed, white iceberg roses, spiral junipers and Indian hawthorne clara. All of the plants are on a drip system so there is no waste. We also have a very well established African sumac that requires no drip system or hand watering.”
        Cruz said she uses her garden to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to avoid food waste. Her mix of plants of plants and shade trees also attracts a beautiful mix of birds, including blue jays, woodpeckers, sparrows, robins and songbirds.
        “I take pride in my garden and enjoy my time spent replanting and mending it,” she said. “It has brought me great job, peace and a way to stay active in my retirement years and this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
        Sanchez said she has more than a dozen different types of fruits, vegetables and herbs, including watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, onions, radishes, corn, sweet potatoes, basil, sweet Italian sage, spinach and cucumbers.
        Fred and Laurie Geusen, the only contestants for the Recycled Water Fill Station Category, won first place in that category. The Geusens frequently visit the recycled water fill station where residents can pick up free recycled water for their landscaping and gardens. “We water the few plants out front with a garden hose once a week,” the Guesens said in an email statement.
        Landscape contest winners won $300 for first place, $200, for second place, and $100 for third place.