Ornamental Gardens design wins Padre dam Watersmart Contest by Lisa Bellora


As you drive down their quiet Santee street, it’s impossible not to notice Dita and Todor Petrov’s lush landscape. Layers of shades of greens are punctuated by white and purple flowers. As you get closer you notice that the plants in the garden are surrounded by mulch and reside next to a rock rain garden. It’s easy to see why the Petrov’s were selected as Padre Dam’s 2019 WaterSmart Landscape Contest winners.

When they purchased their home in 2011, the Petrov’s front yard was almost entirely grass. They fought to sustain the grass by watering it several times a week, but it still never looked healthy.

“We inherited a front yard that was a water-wasting nightmare and no amount of water and fertilizer could keep the grass green,” Explained Dita Petrov.

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When the Petrov’s decided it was time to transition to a water efficient landscape, they attended an event at the Water Conservation Garden and met with Landscape Designer Lisa Bellora, who would end up designing their yard. It was important to the Petrovs that while their landscape was water efficient, it appeared lush and was not exclusively cactus.

“Drought Tolerant doesn’t only mean cactus!” Todor Petrov commented.

Lisa’s design for the Petrov’s landscape included more than just an array of water-efficient plants. The design included widening the walkway to the front door, as well as incorporating their mature Jacaranda tree, which now provides shade for the other plants. Rain gutters on the Petrov’s house feed a rain garden that acts like a sponge, soaking up the rain to use as irrigation. Because of the rain garden, the Petrovs are able to completely turn their irrigation off during the wet season. When it’s dry, the yard is on a drip irrigation system.

“We love when the rain garden fills up with water and creates a pond, we know it’s working to filter the roof water into the yard instead of just running into the street and drains,” commented Dita.

The Petrovs enjoy that their landscape is green year-round, and never “gets grey.” Their advice to others who are interested in creating a WaterSmart landscape is to be open to suggestions, but to not let anyone detract from your vision for your yard. 

Photo and article courtesy of Padre Dam newsletter

Photo and article courtesy of Padre Dam newsletter