OCEANSIDE — San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA), city water districts and Home Depot are teaming up to hold Garden Friendly Plant Fairs across the county in an effort to help people recognize and choose low water-use plants and ground coverings for their yards.“We’re working with them to transform the market,” Jeff Stephenson, principle water resources specialist for SDCWA, said.
The idea behind the plant fairs is to make colorful, low water-use plants available and people will choose them for landscaping.
The day informs people about a wide variety of low water-use plants and demonstrates to the host garden centers that there is a profitable market to keep low water-use plants in stock.
The benefits of a low water-use landscapes are numerous. Homeowners save money on their water bills and reduce the demand on the local water supply.
It is estimated that half of an average household water use is on landscaping.
“People are becoming much more knowledgeable,” Teresa Gomez, senior management analyst of Oceanside Water Utilities Department, said.
“With the shortage of water and rising costs it’s becoming very important to people to reduce water usage. Landscaping is the first area to reduce because it’s not necessary or vital.”
“You can still have a nice area to entertain friends,” Gomez added. “It doesn’t have to be all rock.”
The first of nine San Diego County plant fairs will kick off at the Oceanside Home Depot on 5755 Mission Avenue Feb. 23. Master gardeners, soil specialists, irrigation experts, water district staff, and recycling and waste management personnel will be on hand to share their expertise.
“We’re ready to talk about anything they’re interested in,” Gomez said. “It’s a great time to learn something, get great deals and have fun.”
“The key is to learn how to use plants, irrigation systems and ground coverings properly or you’re not getting the most bang for your buck,” she added.
Dozens of low water-use plants will be brought in for the event.
The plants will be priced at 50 percent off the day of the event.
California native plants will be marked with a California grizzly bear on the side of the container so people can easily recognize them.
There will be information on the SDCWA Turf Replacement Program that pays homeowners $1.50 per square foot for replacing turf grass with low water-use landscaping.
Plenty of information will be shared all day.
“Different barks are water saving,” Marcus Leyko, Home Depot merchandising manager, said. “Certain rocks help drainage, there are different fertilizers to help drainage, and water-saving mulch.”
The day will also include live music, cotton candy and popcorn, and a children’s area with hands-on planting, watershed demonstration models and a bounce house.
“It will be a carnival atmosphere,” Leyko said. “You can kick off your spring gardening and see what we’re offering.”
For more information, visit watersmartsd.org.