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At Coastkeeper, conserving water is always at the forefront of our mind. However, we understand that may not be the case for everyone. That’s why we are constantly trying to find ways to make it easier for Orange County families to cut down on water use. A perfect example is our SmartScape program, led by garden director Marianne Hugo.

Through this program, we help property owners and landscaping contractors transition from high water use landscaping. From identifying financial incentives, design and installation, and long-term maintenance, we offer assistance at every step.

Does it still seem intimidating? We understand. That’s why we called upon two of our recent SmartScape participants, Kim Astengo and Randy Rossi, to share their success stories.

Kim Astengo from Buena Park

Last summer, Kim had been staring at her dry, ugly front lawn for months and had decided to make a change. She liked the idea of going for a more drought-tolerant look but didn’t like the look of the succulent landscapes that her neighbors had.

Unsure of what to do, she attended one of our SmartScape workshops in Santa Ana. There, she connected with Marianne Hugo, the face of our SmartScape program. Marianne invited Kim to see our conservation garden in Orange to get inspired.

At the garden, Marianne showed her numerous plant options that she could incorporate into her yard. She also supplied Kim with a list of SmartScape-endorsed landscaping companies and nurseries to check out.

Empowered with knowledge, Kim began transforming her yard in the fall of 2018. With the enlisted help of her family and a nursery and gravel company recommended by Marianne, her front yard’s facelift was completed in October.

She decided on planting lavender, rosemary, olive shrub, and guarana to name a few. Unfortunately, the winter cold wasn’t kind to the plants initially. It wasn’t until the mix of heavy rains and bright sun in the spring when her front yard came to life.

Now, she is greeted by butterflies and bees every time she pulls into her driveway. Her neighbors often compliment her on how well it turned out and say they want to do the same to their yards.

Randy Rossi from Orange

Randy is a retired high school teacher living in Orange. On his way to work, he would pass the Coastkeeper Garden located near Santiago Canyon College and occasionally stopped in. Then, last summer, when Randy wanted to revamp his outdoor space, he knew where to go.

Randy wasn’t happy with how much money he was spending on water to keep his backyard lawn green. At the same time, his homeowner’s association told him he had to replace his fence with an upgraded powder-coated one. He used the fence project as an opportunity to beat his pesky lawn once and for all.

In June, he visited the Coastkeeper Garden with the intention of replacing his lawn with low-water-use plants. While there, he connected with Marianne who suggested plants and landscaping companies similar to Kim’s experience.

He chose a mix of plumerias, citrus, succulents, sage and other native California plants to spruce up his yard. With the help of Marianne’s recommended companies and his gardener, he transformed his yard into a paradise for himself, his family and local pollinators.

Most importantly for Randy, he succeeded in his goal to save money on his water bills. His bi-monthly water bill reduced by 75% after incorporating SmartScape practices! Randy’s backyard is truly one of the most beautiful SmartScape yards we’ve seen to date. Just check out this sunset.

If you were inspired by Kim and Randy’s stories, we urge you to reach out to our SmartScape director, Marianne Hugo, and learn how you could transform your yard. We also invite you to see our water conservation garden in Orange that serves as the model for our SmartScape program. For hours of operation, visit our garden webpage.