Remodeling and Home Design
Remodeling and Home Design
Remodeling and Home Design



re-printed from Ojai Monthly magazine - October 2014

Water Conservation That Nourishes the Soul

Solutions to Be Seen at Matilija Street House on Green Living Home Tour

by Cynthia Louise G. 

While my design practice focuses on interiors, I am often asked how to conserve water both inside and out because of my commitment to sustainability and the environment. It’s a dilemma for many homeowners -- how to conserve during a drought but still create a life of beauty that nourishes the soul.

According to AquaFlo, the average urban household’s lawn uses over 100,000 gallons of water a year. Astonishing! So how do we give up our expansive lawns and tropical plantings while also providing a place to retreat to that is peaceful and enjoyable? Small steps toward conservation are often the easiest for many homeowners to swallow. As seen in many places around the Ojai Valley, many landscaping practices fortunately are moving towards creating a better balance by using drought tolerant plantings and ocean friendly practices, including the elimination of fertilizers and pesticides.

While simply eliminating all water for landscape purposes may seem logical, The University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources ”Landscape Notes” newsletter from September of 2013 warns that landscapes could die off and the ecosystem at large would not function if we all turn to such drastic measures. The newsletter states, “In the absence of landscapes, the environmental benefits such as cooling, pollutant regulation, runoff prevention, storm-water capture, dust control, and carbon sequestration are lost or severely diminished. The heat island effect increases in urban areas as water is withheld.” 

The owner’s of a recently renovated Matillija Street home to be featured on this year’s Green Living Home Tour, took the strategy of minimizing, but not eliminating, water consumption when creating their healing retreat. The owners, who are a retired landscape architect and graphic artist by trade, removed all but a tiny portion of their home’s lawn, replacing it with drought tolerant native plants, a nice healthy layer of mulch, and a lovely, small recirculating water feature using a hand made glazed urn that has hummingbirds and bees excited to visit. By rough calculations using local water Exapotranspiration Data (ET) from Casitas Water District, these homeowners will save over 88.000 gallons of water per year by removing most of their lawn, even with the water feature added.

So an answer to the dilemma could be to remove the lawn and tropical plants, going with sparse native plantings, artfully placed boulders, mulch, mulch, and mulch, (3 inches) and a recirculating waterfall or fountain. To go a step further, the water feature could be a natural pool with regeneration zones of aquatic plants, eliminating the need for chemicals in the pool or the waterfall itself. The result is a beautiful landscape creation that will stimulate the senses, create a sense of calm, and invite wildlife, thus restoring a more balanced ecosystem.

To learn about visiting the Matilija Street home during the Green Living Home Tour & Show being held on Saturday, October 25 from 10am-4pm, visit Tickets are $10 for adults, under 18 free.





Sat., Oct. 25, 2014

Tour 10 am – 4 pm

Show 10 am – 3 pm


start at The MOB Shop

110 W. Ojai Ave.

Ojai, CA  93023


$10 for adults

under 18 free 


standard or electric bike rentals

The MOB Shop