The San Antonio Water System is throwing its first “front-yard party” in three years this Saturday, celebrating the arrival of spring with plant giveaways, plants for sale and how-to demonstrations.

Spring Bloom! takes place in front of SAWS headquarters at U.S. Highway 281 and Mulberry Avenue from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday; the first 1,000 arrivals will get a free drought-tolerant plant. Nonprofit vendors also will be on hand selling plants, herbs and succulents.

Experts will demonstrate different design options for replanting 200 square feet of lawn with new landscaping, and how to qualify for SAWS’ $100 landscape coupon for doing just that.

“We’ll be showing people an easy, cheater way of measuring out 200 square feet in interesting shapes,” said Karen Guz, vice president of water conservation at SAWS, then how to choose the right plants for the area.

SAWS has been offering gardening advice for close to 20 years now, she said, and over the years they’ve learned that 200 square feet is a more manageable size than attempting a full yard overhaul, especially for new gardeners.

While SAWS’ primary goal with gardening advice is to influence customers to use less water in their landscapes, Guz said, “at the same time, we’re part of the community, and we want people to have beautiful landscapes that are also positive for the environment we live in.”

Several years ago, SAWS launched Garden Style San Antonio, a website that offers watering advice, a plant database, events calendar and helpful gardening articles, including information on the utility’s WaterSaver programs.

Guz said many who visit are either new to gardening, or are new to gardening in South Texas. The site’s latest efforts include “plant by numbers” blueprints, and a primer on basic garden styles.

Visitors to the website can vote for their favorite style: cottage, midcentury, Hill Country, traditional, Spanish courtyard or wildscape. Guz said SAWS will be creating downloadable design plans for each style in the coming year, choosing the most popular designs to create first.

“We really want to dispel the notion that a [watersaver landscape] is just rocks and cactus,” Guz said.

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Tracy Idell Hamilton

Tracy Idell Hamilton is Story Editor for the San Antonio Report.