Condo residents transform parkway into sustainable landscape

| June 27, 2024 | 0 Comments

WASTED WATER from parkway sprinklers flowed into the street prior to turf replacement project.

In an effort to keep their homeowners association (HOA) fees stable, residents living in the 29-unit, three-story condominium at 4407 Francis Ave. (in Windsor Village) took advantage of a rebate program offered through the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). Board members were aware that a significant chunk of HOA fees paid the water bills.

WITH TURF REMOVED, the parkway was ready for compost and new plants.

“We have this long parkway, and the grass covering it wasn’t even taking in water,” board member Lia Aquino told us. The parkway runs for half of the block between Lucerne and Windsor boulevards. Sprinklers were set to water the parkway’s grass three times per week, but much of the water would just flow out into the street. Aquino read about water saving projects on LADWP’s website, and she discovered a turf replacement program that fit the condominium’s needs.


Board members first got an estimate from an environmental design firm that promoted planting native plants. But the $21,000 estimate was too high for tenants to cover. Fortunately, the company’s owner suggested that residents “do it themselves,” and said she’d be happy to offer advice and answer questions for a DIY project.

“It took us two years to get the funds and plans together,” said Aquino. She and a fellow board member went to the free turf replacement classes offered through LADWP. They learned how to remove turf, replenish and mulch and which plants were appropriate to use.

Months, not a weekend

When residents commenced work, the process took five months because of various challenges. Aquino said that a crew of five people doing this for a living probably could have done the project in a weekend. But, with a small number of volunteers — many of whom had never done any gardening — compost delivery delays, and rain on some chosen workdays, it took the DIYers more time and “a lot of sweat equity!”

The volunteers who did the project were a mix of owners and renters. People who couldn’t physically do the digging brought water to those who were. “It was a good way to spend a significant amount of time getting to know others in the building,” said Aquino. Those who did participate gained a new respect for gardeners. “We were like, ‘Oh, my God! This is so hard!’” Aquino said she skipped Pilates for two and a half weeks because she was getting her planks in while outside on the parkway. Neighborhood walkers and park-goers (Harold Henry Park is just across the street) cheered the group on. They’d say, “You’re doing such a great job!” said Aquino.

NATIVE PLANTS have begun to thrive in the refurbished parkway at 4407 Francis Avenue.

Variety of plants

The Windsor Village residents chose plants that would bloom at different times of the year to bring variations in color to the parkway. Aquino especially loves the California poppies, yarrow and milkweed that were planted. She had never seen poppies in person and appreciates that the association’s parkway now provides monarch butterflies with the one plant they will lay their eggs on — milkweed.

She hopes her building’s project encourages people living in other multi-unit dwellings to consider doing something similar. “I know people will keep building and living in this city, but our pollinators can still thrive if we give them these little micro spaces. It doesn’t have to be us versus them. There are a lot of beautiful native plants that give beautiful blooms and that our pollinators, animals and birds can benefit from.”

Board members documented each step of the process, and a representative of the program officially checked that all the city rebate requirements had been met. The project cost the HOA $10,000, and they are looking at a $4,000 rebate.

Reduced bills

Already, the parkway watering has gone from three times to one time per week. When the plants reach maturity, they should only need to be watered once per month. That’s a big difference for the building’s water bills and for Southern California’s water supply. As part of the program’s requirement, a drip irrigation system was installed which uses significantly less water. Water is no longer running out onto the street, but instead directly down into the roots of the plants.

Point of interest

The new planting in the condo parkway garden has become a point of interest in the community. Aquino says that she often sees people stopping to take pictures of the flowers growing there. She squealed with joy when she noticed “Oh my God! A butterfly just landed on the milkweed!”

Learn about rebates through the LADWP and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California SoCal Water Smart Rebate Program at, or call 800-544-4498. (Select option five for parkways.)

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Category: Real Estate

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