Warm weather brings out summer toys along with perpetual demands to fill the kiddie pool and run through the sprinklers. With all of this cool-down fun, it’s hard to get a water conservation message across to our little swimmers. It’s probably just easier to show your kids that you’re not making up excuses and let the 5 acres of water-wise displays at The Water Conservation Garden back you up.

Why go: If your kids aren’t going to care about what a succulent is, rest assured that there’s more to this garden than just plant ideas. They will have a blast and the inevitable, “what’s this, Mommy?” questions will unintentionally educate them about water scarcity. There are tons of drought tolerant plants, butterfly gardens, water displays, trails and hand-on opportunities. Bring a picnic and hang out for a morning.

What you can learn: Regardless of age, visitors come with different goals in mind. Garden enthusiasts further their learning while others use it as first step toward cutting their water bills. You may want to contemplate your current landscaping (or not) while your kids exhaust themselves in the sunshine. There are also classes, special events, and other activities year-round. Considering replacing your lawn? Looking for drought-tolerant container or companion plants? It’s all there. Thinking about summer fire safety? They’ll teach you what brush to clear and what you might want to plant instead.

School field trips: Reserved in advance, Ms. Smarty-Plants, The Water Conservation Garden’s education ambassador, can teach kids how drought tolerant plants adapt and what small steps kids can take to help the environment. Kids even get to take a small drought tolerant plant home to care for themselves. Self-guided field trips are common too, but the Education Director can help schools coordinate an age-appropriate visit. Ms. Smarty-Plants even has a video on The Water Conservation Garden’s website.

How to dress: Go in playwear that can get a little dirty if the kids fall down or dig into some compost while you’re not looking.

When to go: The Water Conservation Garden is open year-round. However, since it is located in El Cajon, in summer months it can get quite hot. Bring sunscreen.

Cost: Admission is free, though donations are suggested.

The Water Conservation Garden
12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West
El Cajon, Ca 92019
Online: thegarden.org
Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm daily

The Water Conservation Garden staff strongly believes that teaching young kids about water conservation is vital in order to achieve long-term water conservation success. Get yours to turn off the taps faster than usual and you may just earn yourself some extra shoe money.

— Katie Dillon

Photo credit: Helix Water District via The Water Conservation Garden