South Coast REC research helps landscapers plan for the next drought

Aug 19, 2015
Residences A, B and C.

Covering the ongoing drought, Peter King wrote a story in the Los Angeles Times about different approaches being taken around the state to manage with less water. From desalination facilities to solar-powered telemetry towers to help improve irrigation efficiency in an almond orchard to water storage projects, the former UCOP news director highlighted a number of efforts to plan for a drier future. He ended up at UC ANR's South Coast Research and Extension Center, looking at the landscape project built for studying plant types and urban water use.

“Three beige classrooms have been outfitted and landscaped to resemble a row of suburban homes, complete with white picket fences,” King wrote. “They are not-so-poetically identified as residences A, B and C. A offers conventional landscaping: fescue lawn, birch trees and boxwood. B's plants and grasses are better suited to a Mediterranean climate. C's are natives: sedge grasses, manzanita and sycamores.”

As the drought persists, requests from municipal landscapers and private gardeners to tour the project have picked up, Tammy Majcherek, a UCCE community educator in Orange County, told King.

“I am not sure the old mindset has changed,” she said, “but I think maybe we are beginning to turn the corner.”

Members of the public will have a chance to tour the faux neighborhood on Sept. 26 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the Urban Landscape & Garden Education Expo at South Coast Research and Extension Center. The event is free. Visitors will get to learn about drought friendly plants and how to reduce landscape water use. For more information, visit

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By Pamela Kan-Rice
Author - Assistant Director, News and Information Outreach