This home is proof that a climate-appropriate garden does not have to be an intimidating enterprise and can be done inexpensively with great results.
It all started about eight years ago when the homeowners replaced their weedy front lawn with common, mostly Mediterranean, drought-tolerant plants, such as geraniums, rosemary, lantana, lavender and an herb garden. The parkway now consists of low plants, including blue fescue and flowering ice plants and stepping stones. The result is a yard with color and texture that rarely needs watering and requires minimal maintenance. They nurtured this garden slowly – planting fewer plants and allowing them to grow in at their own pace, gradually supplanting the weeds that used to be out of control.
They proudly take credit for every aspect of the garden’s creation. No landscape designer or specialist was involved and they used plant materials that are easy to find and care for. They even installed the drip irrigation.
One side of the front yard is dominated by a large specimen Coral Tree. As the front yard is never irrigated, the tree has strengthened with deeper roots, and damage to the sidewalk has thus been minimized. This is another benefit of the drought tolerant garden. The drip irrigation system in the front has not been used much in the last two to three years. For the 2009 Garden Tour, the calculated water savings were at about 30% over 2007. Since then, water use for their family of four has reduced further, to 36% less water than 2007, dropping to as low as 11 HCF in a two-month billing cycle.
Last May, the homeowners installed an 18-panel solar photovoltaic system using micro-inverters, which has to date produced more than 4 MW of power, supplying 100% of energy use through October, and reducing bills to well below the Tier 1 level since then. The Sun Power black panels, installed on the lower and upper rooftops are not highly noticeable from the street, (but are visible to be featured on the tour). Aesthetically, they are very happy with the system.