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Posted on: July 27, 2023

See our 2023 Landscape Contest Runner-Up

Water-saving runner up landscape

Meet Joanna and Larry Henning on Lemon Avenue in La Mesa. They are our runner-up winners for the 2023 WaterSmart Landscape Contest, a contest that promotes beautiful, water-efficient landscapes and rewards people for their inspiring gardens. 

The Henning landscape blankets the slope of a 1920s home in La Mesa's historic neighborhood and provides the lush appearance of a traditional English garden but with climate-appropriate plants. 

Water-saving runner up landscapeWater-saving runner up landscape

From the street, trees frame the landscape, which is filled with shades of green and pops of color. You can also see agave, cacti and dozens of other succulents, many of which display long cones of flowers. The landscape delivers ample curb appeal and from the front patios, the garden provides a tranquil space for the family to enjoy.  

It didn't always look this spectacular. When the couple bought the property in 2017, the landscape was covered with weeds and overgrown trees. The couple wanted a new landscape that would fill in the expansive slope while adding to the character of their home. 

Young landscape with small succulent cuttings

Henning landscape began as small cuttings from friends and family

Water-saving colorful, runner up landscapePlanting an area this large with new plants can get expensive, and that's when the couple got creative. Larry used succulent cuttings from friends and family to plant most of their new landscape. The couple also supplemented the landscape with a few specimen plants, like protea, sages and plumeria, that add to the landscape's variety, interest and colors. It started off slow, but now only five years later, the plants are fully grown and have transformed the landscape.

The landscape uses water in a very efficient way too. The watering schedules are controlled using a smart, weather-based irrigation controller that automatically adjusts for rain and weather changes. The plants receive water from inline drip irrigation with pressure-compensating drip emitters. Pressure compensation is important for sloped landscapes because it maintains even watering rates all along the slope and prevents overwatering areas at the bottom of the landscape, where pressure is higher. Mulch covers the drip system, which protects the soil and slows evaporation.

Water-saving runner up landscapeWater-saving runner up landscape

This landscape transformation is impressive, creative and efficient. We are happy to announce them as the runner-up for Helix Water District's Landscape Contest. We hope that you enjoy their work as much as we have. 

Helix runs the landscape contest each year which starts in February and runs until mid-May. To look at this year's winner and to see how you can enter next year, go to

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