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Local landscapers take action to save water in San Diego landscapes

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Despite recent rainfall, water conservation is still a priority for California due to low reserves, increased population and an aging water infrastructure. It is reported that residential San Diegans use an estimated 60 percent of water on their landscape alone, businesses an estimated 40 percent. Therefore, the landscape industry is often criticized for being the biggest culprits of water waste -- but San Diego landscapers are taking seriously the need to conserve water.

The San Diego Chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association is proud that CLCA’s Water Management Certification Program recently received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Label. Many landscape construction projects, installed by firms that employ CLCA-certified water managers, have recently been completed around the county; these were designed to save high-profile corporations like Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Solar Turbines significant amounts of water. CLCA’s certified water managers are knowledgeable about advanced irrigation technology and are certified to conduct irrigation audits and work with a water budget, which helps San Diegans meet the governor’s goal to reduce water usage in the state by 20 percent by 2020.

“With the severity of our state’s and county’s projected water shortages, water management is critical,” said Diane Downey, president of the local chapter of the CLCA. “The CLCA of San Diego takes very seriously the water crisis in our state. We stay on top of the latest solutions to the crisis by partnering with the San Diego County Water Authority’s various programs. Through water management, sustainable landscaping, grass recycling, fire retardant plant choices and more, landscape contractors are saving their clients water and money.”

Several members from the CLCA San Diego chapter have recently installed and retrofitted landscape projects that have saved upwards of 85 percent of water in both commercial and residential landscapes across the county.

The Brickman Group, a commercial landscape contractor in San Diego employing CLCA certified water managers, recently won an award for a project it retrofitted at Solar Turbines headquarters. This project is saving the corporate headquarters 90 percent of water and 3 million gallons of water per year.

To achieve this savings, the project houses an advanced drip irrigation system, MP rotator sprinklers and a smart controller system. Smart controllers adjust the timing of applied irrigation according to the plant material, the slope or grade of the landscape, soil conditions and through weather data downloaded from weather stations. For this project, Brickman took out all of the lawn turf in the landscape and replaced it all with drought-tolerant plants. The Solar Turbines site won Brickman CLCA’s prestigious President’s Award this year for landscape construction, and the CLCA’s California-friendly Irrigation/WaterSmart Beautification award.

Benchmark Landscape of Poway, also employing CLCA-certified water managers, won an award for its work at Sony corporate headquarters. The 11-story site designed by landscape architect MW Peltz and Associates features an extensive amount of ornamental grasses, several varieties of drought-tolerant plant materials, along with sophisticated irrigation controllers that allow Benchmark to manage the water usage at a high-efficiency level.

Benchmark Landscape recently won two 2010 CLCA Beautification awards, including first place in the California - Friendly Commercial Maintenance category for its ongoing maintenance at the Sony site. The company also won one of the CLCA’s top prizes, the Sweepstakes Award, for the best overall project for its work at the Sony site.

Other licensed landscape contractors operating in the San Diego County area that employ CLCA-certified water managers include The Yard Fairy, Robert Brown Landscape Irrigation Inc., Green Valley Landscape Maintenance, Mark Schroeder and Co. and Nature Designs Landscape.

For more information on the CLCA’s Water Management Certification program and a directory of San Diego licensed landscape contractors, visit clcasandiego.org.

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