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News & Articles

Q&A with OC’s Water-Saving Gneighbor: Jan of Mission Viejo

Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire.

Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire.

Who: Jan Shomaker, advocate for turf removal and California friendly plants, a #GnormanApproved action

Jan’s front yard has not a single blade of grass in sight.  In its place is a courtyard filled with California friendly plants that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and honeybees as well as her friends and family who come to gather for conversation.

Jan Shomaker is a realtor, wife, mother, grandmother and water champion from Mission Viejo. As the daughter of a career military father and a Scottish frugal mother, she was raised with the mantra “turn off the water!” Here, she shares her water-saving methods with Gnorman and the rest of us.

Gnorman: What’s the best part of having a drought tolerant landscape?

Jan Shomaker: A drought tolerant landscape is an easier lifestyle. My husband and I put in 15 minutes a week into our self-sustaining garden. It takes more time to take care of a lawn.  Our lives are so busy, why would we want to make ourselves busier by having a high maintenance yard to contend with?

G: Any advice to our gneighbors who want to have a drought resistant yard?

JS: Keep it simple. Enjoy your home more. You don’t need grass. Drought resistant yards have very little green waste, and you don’t have to spray native plants with chemicals like you do with a grass yard.  Learn how to work with nature as opposed to defending yourself against it. Once you put things in place, there is so little maintenance yet your yard will be as beautiful and liveable.

Drought tolerant landscaping. Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire

Drought tolerant landscaping.
Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire

G: Why do you think saving water is important?

JS: Water is a precious commodity, important to every living thing.  By getting the turf out, you save water, gain time and still end up with a yard that is usable and enjoyable.

G: Can  you share with us a beautiful memory you have from a moment in your yard?

JS: My most enjoyable time in my yard is spent in the front courtyard. We sit and read in the sun or shade and listen to the honeybees buzzing up and down the living fence looking for nectar from the privet bushes that surround our courtyard.  We are able to enjoy the hummingbirds at the feeders hanging on our courtyard tree, the yellow butterflies and occasionally a monarch, flitting from bush to bush. We were one of the first people in our neighborhood to rip up our grass; so people stop by and ask us about it. It’s made us more engaged with our neighbors as they walk down the street.

Jan and Allen Shomaker in their green home in Mission Viejo. Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire

Jan and Allen Shomaker in their green home in Mission Viejo.
Photo originally published in the OC Register by Mark Rightmire

Want to be interviewed by Gnorman the Gnome? Email him at gnome@h2oc.org.

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