ENCINITAS — James and Barbara Leuer, of Encinitas, were awarded the top prize May 21 among Olivenhain Municipal Water District customers in San Diego County’s annual California-Friendly Landscape Contest, for their family’s water-efficient efforts. The Leuers have lived in their Village Park home since 1991 and began their landscape remodel two years ago. The previous yard consisted of a large Ficus trees, a few shrubs, and a lot of grass. “We intended to modernize the look of our home, and wanted a landscape that required less water and maintenance,” said Barbara. “My husband and I came up with the design and finalized the plans with the help of local landscape architect Cindy Benoit.” After removing turf from their front yard, they installed a patio and walkway to welcome visitors. The clusters of colorful, water-smart plants are irrigated using drip irrigation. This landscape conversion assisted in reducing the Leuers’ overall water use in 2013 by 90,508 gallons versus the same period in 2012. In addition to enjoying the benefits of a lower water bill, the Leuers are proud of the inviting landscape that attracts birds and butterflies. The landscape caught the eye of a neighbor who nominated the Leuers’ yard for the contest. The Leuers donated their $250 prize to the Social Responsibility Garden at nearby Flora Vista Elementary, which educates students on water-wise gardening principles and donates food locally. The California-Friendly Landscape contest is held annually by water agencies throughout San Diego County to showcase attractive landscapes that use less water than conventional turf-heavy landscapes. Contest entries are judged on curb appeal, landscape and irrigation design, and environmental considerations. More information and photos of winning landscapes are available at landscapecontest.com.