Big Bear Lake, CA, July 15, 2013 – People who think low-water landscaping mean a lackluster yard are in for a surprise. The Xeriscape Garden Tour celebrates the color and diversity of native and drought tolerant plants on their 11th annual tour, showcasing homes that exemplify the best in water conservation through Xeriscape landscaping.

The Big Bear Valley had below average snowfall during the 2012-2013 winter, increasing the fire risk in an even dryer-than-usual forest. The Xeriscape Garden tour offers tips, advice, and information on how to not only combat increases in water needs, but how to meld drought- tolerant and fire smart landscapes to create defensible space.

The 2013 tour on Saturday, July 20th will feature seven gardens, two nurseries and the Flower Show at the Big Bear Lake Performing Arts Center. Highlights of the tour include:

  • a FireWise home, which showcases how to be both drought-tolerant and fire safe at the same time;
  • native plant expert Orchid Black at Hunters Nursery answering questions about the benefits of native plants;
  • the Jim Otterstrom Earth Home Garden Award, presented to the garden that has created the most natural setting, including but not limited to native plants. The Otterstrom yard is living proof that native plants are the best way to landscape, and with Jim and Peggy Otterstrom handing out seeds, sage advice and lemonade, it was a perennial favorite on the tour.

This year the club will also grant the Water Wise award for the yard that uses the least amount of water, and attendees will have the chance to vote for their favorite home on the tour with the People’s Choice award.

Participants can start the free tour any time between 9 am and noon at Eminger’s Mountain Nursery, which will have a number of booths on hand with information on composting, water conservation and native plants. Attendees will have until 4:00 pm to complete the self-guided tour. Tour booklets, a map to the locations and directional signs will help attendees drive from one location to the next. Sierra Club volunteers will be at each home to guide arrivals and point out landscape features.

The sponsors responsible for making this a free tour to the public are as follows: Bear Valley Fire Agencies, City of Big Bear Lake, Big Bear City CSD, DWP, Eminger’s Mountain Nursery, Hunters Nursery, MDMRA Master Composters, Nativescapes, Stalcup Landscaping and TSL Landscaping.