Save Our Waters


Despite a record quantity of rain and snow this winter, we are still facing a hotter, drier future. Because of these weather extremes, the state of California’s Save Our Water program encourages Californians to make water conservation a way of life, and something as easy as altering the way we garden may have a big impact. We spoke with Kate Hayes, a design principal and landscape architect, and Dr. Jun Bando, executive director of the California Native Plant Society, about shifting our yards from water-hungry lawns to low-water California native plants. 

Dr. Bando explained what she meant by native plants and how gardening with native plants and other water-wise plants may help you conserve water. She defines native plants as “plants native to California that have evolved to their landscapes over time and are uniquely suited to our climate.” Save Our Water’s mission is to assist communities make water conservation a way of life, and these California native plants are an important component of that puzzle. 

It is a popular misconception that low water gardens are only cactus and rocks, but Hayes and Dr. Bando demonstrate that this is not always the case. Not only are these gardens lush, but they’re also green, bright, and textured. They are appropriate for a wide range of design styles. To get started, Hayes recommends beginning small and researching where you can acquire plant lists and simple design advice. 

People who wish to establish these gardens on a budget can contact their local water agency, which has extremely attractive rebate schemes ranging from your full yard to an effective watering equipment. Many of these local water agencies also provide design assistance programs, which can help offset the expense of hiring an expert to assist you. Late fall or early winter is the optimal time to plant California natives. Now is a perfect time to start planning the plants you want and where you want them. You can learn more all about water conservation landscaping at