Built in the early 1980s, The Oaks at Newhall neighborhood comprises 93 homes on property dotted by about 600 historic oak trees. In addition, the land was blanketed by landscaping that guzzles water. So when Stay Green Inc. and the Castaic Lake Water Agency recently implemented a plan to reduce water usage and save money, the homeowners association was enthusiastic.
The HOA had been in discussions with Stay Green about new landscaping, but the issue came to a head during budget discussions, said Lisa Hoffman, association manager for The Oaks’ HOA. In the face of continually rising water costs, the board was looking to save money wherever possible. The spike in rates was particularly high from the 2011/12 fiscal year going into 2013, which meant HOA members would eventually see an increase in their assessment fees. Hoffman said Stay Green and CLWA came up with a plan to revamp the landscaping and were very proactive.
Stay Green Account Manager Steve Seely said the landscaper’s mission was to replace the existing, high water usage fescue with low-usage acacia plants. However, rather than simply pulling out all the old growth and replacing it, the new plants – for which the irrigation system has been prioritized – will, over time, overtake and replace the old growth.
“Much like our water-saving modifications at Fair Oaks Ranch, the work our team did at The Oaks demonstrates that attractive landscaping is not synonymous with high water usage,” Stay Green President and CEO Chris Angelo said. “The landscape modification we performed, coupled with the irrigation system updates CLWA is poised to make, sets the stage for drastic reductions in water usage that translate into big savings for homeowners.”
Seely said this is one of three recent projects where Stay Green and CLWA have teamed up to reduce water usage. Though thrilled by the water savings The Oaks is seeing, he stressed that the roughly 95 percent usage savings The Oaks is experiencing is an atypical case because the property had such high-usage plants, with most properties seeing about a 45 percent savings on average.
Stay Green’s plan to revamp The Oaks’ landscaping dovetailed perfectly with CLWA’s Large Landscape and Commercial, Institutional and Industrial Rebate Program that helps HOAs, said Nancy Warfel, an administrative analyst for the water agency.
The program is fairly new, and Warfel said this was the first project of this magnitude. With a landscaping area of more than 750,000 square feet, Stay Green’s landscape improvements will make a huge difference in The Oaks’ water usage.
“From our perspective, it’s really exciting to see an HOA want to convert a site,” Warfel said.
She noted that part of the challenge in the Santa Clarita Valley is that “people like things green; lots of turf. It was unique to have an HOA willing to convert such a large area.”
A key component in revamping The Oaks landscaping was not just replacing the plants, but installing new irrigation controllers as well. Warfel said CLWA will install a system that uses satellite information to automatically make adjustments seasonally, and even daily. In addition to saving water, an automated system also means landscaping crews don’t need to physically come to the property to make adjustments. Warfel explained that The Oaks’ eight irrigation controllers can be adjusted right from a computer, or even a smartphone.
Hoffman said the process went very smoothly.
“It was really quick to get done,” she said. “They’ve pretty much handled everything from start to finish. It’s been very easy on our behalf.”
She said the rebate The Oaks received was “a very nice shock” and that the project has been a win-win.
“We’re going to see a significant change in the amount of water we use, and it will look better,” she said.
About Stay Green Inc.
Stay Green Inc. delivers the quality, expertise and resources only an industry leader can provide, combining exceptional client service with an unsurpassed reputation for excellence that spans four decades. Headquartered in Santa Clarita, the company now has more than 300 employees working in five divisions – Landscape Maintenance, Plant Health Care, Tree Care, Water Management Services and Landscape Design/Build Services. Stay Green serves clients throughout Southern California, and exercises positive environmental stewardship through its Sustainability Practices, which are applied across all service lines to help customers protect the environment as well as the bottom line. Stay Green Inc. is recognized as a leading provider of high-quality landscape services, having achieved a 95 percent customer retention rate, along with receiving the industry’s most prestigious awards. Learn more at www.StayGreen.com.
About Castaic Lake Water Agency
The Castaic Lake Water Agency (CLWA) is the Santa Clarita Valley’s public water wholesaler. CLWA operates two treatment plants, two pump stations, two storage facilities and over 17 miles of transmission pipelines. For more information visit www.clwa.org.