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- Get Inspired
The first step in creating a water efficient landscape is to get inspired and collect ideas. Experience how lush, shady and beautiful a fully-grown water efficient garden can be, read about gardens and listen to other gardeners.
Go to the Water Conservation Garden
The Water Conservation Garden is nearly six acres of themed gardens and exhibits. In our most recent survey, 57 percent of Helix customers who visited The Garden said they went home and used ideas from the garden in their own landscape.
12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West in El Cajon
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Leashed, friendly dogs are welcome
- Butterfly Pavilion
- Cactus and Succulent Garden
- Native Habitat Garden
- Water-Wise Victory Garden
- White Garden
- Sensory Garden
- Backyard Makeover Exhibit
- Mulch Exhibit
- Turf Exhibit
- Erosion Exhibit
- Container Garden Exhibit
- Permeable Pavement Exhibit
The Fall Plant Sale and Spring Garden and Butterfly Festival attract thousands to The Water Conservation Garden each year. Tomatomania and the garden’s other, smaller events are just as good!
View their calendar of events
See Helix's Demonstration Landscape
We built a new Demonstration Landscape at our administration office in La Mesa -- three gardens on three streets. Our garden on University Avenue features plants from the world’s Mediterranean climate zones. The garden on Lee Avenue showcases desert plants and Palo Verde trees. The garden on Quince Street demonstrates the casual beauty of plants and trees native to California and northern Baja. We built each garden right next to the public sidewalk, so you can enjoy them whenever you like.
Helix Administration Office
7811 University Avenue
La Mesa, CA
Gardens are next to the public sidewalk that surrounds our Administration Office on University Avenue, Lee Avenue and Quince Street.
Free parking on the street and in Helix parking lot on Quince Street
We made it easy to learn about WaterSmart plants. Plant markers provide the name of each plant and, when you scan the QR codes with the camera app on your smartphone, we show you plant information. Learn how much water a plant needs, when it blooms, the flower color and its full-grown size.
When you click on a plant to learn more, and like what you see, click the “Add to List” button. After you add the last plant to your list, click the “Download” button to save your list as a PDF and take it with you to the nursery.
Use Our Plant Lists
We made two lists of all the plants in the demonstration landscape. The first list separates the plants into categories to help you understand where they might fit into your landscaping plans. We also listed all the plants by number to help you interpret each of our garden plans.
Plant List by Plant Type (PDF)
Download Garden Plans
Click on the links below to download a PDF of each garden plan. Our plans help you visualize how to arrange a garden based on plant height (short plants in front, tall plants in back) and on the amount of space the plants need when fully grown.
Mediterranean Garden Plan (PDF)
eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle
This award-winning, online guide provides step-by-step instructions for designing and installing a water efficient landscape, from design ideas to plant lists to graywater use.
This page on the San Diego County Water Authority's website offers tools and guides to answer all of your questions.
Sunset Magazine’s Water-Wise Garden Design Guide
Scroll through this article’s 18 beautiful photos, and the copy accompanying each one, and you will have a much better grasp of how to design your own water efficient landscape. Keep your eye on Sunset Magazine -- they include landscaping tips and articles in almost every issue.
A Growing Passion
A Growing Passion is a TV series on KPBS created by local garden designer and author Nan Sterman. You can watch all of the past episodes of the series on her website.
WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Videos
The San Diego County Water Authority turned their popular series of workshops into a series of on-demand videos. Class instructor Sharon Lowe walks you through designing, installing and caring for a water efficient landscape.