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Would you like to have a beautiful lawn and garden, but don’t want a high water bill? Then visit the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College to get great ideas for ground covers, water-wise plants, and decorative hardscapes. Situated on five acres, the garden began in the early 1990s by the Helix and Otay Water Districts to help the public save on water for their landscaping. Cuyamaca College provided the land for the garden, and the gardens opened to the public in 1999.


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At the entrance, a volunteer welcomes you with a visitor’s map, outlining the many themed gardens and exhibits. Drought-tolerant plants from six different continents are featured. To the right of the square when you enter is a seasonal plant nursery, where you can purchase plants. Past the gift shop, view different paver configurations for hardscapes or patios, as well as ground covers. Do you have only a patio or balcony? Check out the container garden for planting ideas to spice up your space. If you would like a lush, green carpeted lawn, but are unsure of which type of grass to plant, the Turf Exhibit displays seven different kinds of turf and their water requirements. Does your grassy backyard require too much water? Stroll over to the Water-Wise Backyard Exhibit and see how reconfiguring your green space can reduce your water usage by 18,000 gallons a year.

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Take a break from your routine, pack a picnic lunch, and bring the kids. Let your children explore the Children’s Discovery Trail and Jurassic Garden, where they can play in a sandbox, check out the potting shed, look for hidden animals along the trail, and discover footprints of long extinct animals. Eat lunch beneath a canopy at the site of the future butterfly garden, while a hummingbird sucks the nectar from red cape honeysuckle.

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Sit on a bench in the gazebo next to camphor trees and listen to the breeze rustling their leaves. Lounge beneath the draped canopy of the Patio Garden Exhibit as a butterfly playfully flits about you as birds sing to each other across the gardens. At the Dorcas Utter Sensory Garden, listen to the gentle sound of rainfall, created by a rain stick, as you open and close the purple gate and enter. Wind chimes tinkle in the breeze as you touch and sniff the leaves of juniper, eucalyptus, and fragrant geraniums. Explore the gardens on your own, or take a docent- hosted tour on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Admission is suggested by donation. Classes are also offered to the general public. Visit the garden at 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West in El Cajon. For more information, visit their web site:

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Special thanks to our guest blogger Barbara Allen


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