PALMDALE — The Palmdale Water District wants to educate the public about what a water-wise landscape can be, providing first-hand information about the kinds of plants and arrangements they may use in their own yards.
To do so, they will create a conservation garden, transforming an existing grassy space at the District’s administrative offices at Avenue Q and 20th Street East, into an oasis of drought-tolerant plants and flowers, dry creek beds and meandering paths.
A wheelchair-accessible amphitheater will provide space for educational programs and seating areas and tables will offer employees a place to relax and perhaps enjoy lunch.
“It makes sense to have a place to show people what to do,” Resource and Analytics Director Peter Thompson II said. “We’re practicing what we preach.”
District staff have been at work on the concept for about two years, working with local businesses GreenBee Nursery and Denise K. Designs.
Resource and Analytics Supervisor Claudia Bolanos spearheaded the garden effort as a means to better provide water awareness education, rather than going into schools for programs, and to show residents what they can do through landscape workshops.
“This would be a great place for them to be more hands-on,” she said.
It is more effective to show customers what a water-wise landscape looks like, rather than just showing photographs in a book.
Among the features will be permeable surfaces for the hardscaping to allow water to percolate into the ground and living walls covered with drought-tolerant plants.
The garden proposal calls for 186 five-gallon shrubs in 40 different varieties.
“We wanted to show just because it’s drought tolerant, it doesn’t have to be boring,” Bolanos said.
Plans for a future phase include a memorial garden and bringing an existing fountain back into service, she said.
Director Robert Alvarado called the proposed garden “fantastic.”
“For many years, as a district, we have been investing thousands of dollars in the cash for grass program to motivate customers to change their yards to be more water efficient,” he said. “We were successful. And since then, we have been transitioning to more effective systems to motivate customers. I think we will be fully walking the walk with this project.”
The ability to bring students to the site for educational programs was an attractive feature of the garden, Director Kathy Mac Laren said.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words,” she said. “Nothing looks more beautiful than being able to see it with your own eyes. This is a beautiful project.”
In order to contract with GreenBee Nursery for the garden construction, the Board of Directors unanimously approved a waiver of the District’s bid policy, since there were no multiple bids on the project.
The District budgeted $118,895 for the project in its 2020 budget.