EBMUD launches “I Heart My Garden” Photo Challenge to inspire outdoor water conservation

OAKLAND – The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is launching the “I Heart My Garden” Photo Challenge for EBMUD customers to celebrate the completion of their landscape conversion project and inspire others.

Between August 15 and September 25, 2022, customers are invited to submit two photos: one ‘before’ photo and one ‘after’ photo showing the results of their reimagined landscape. EBMUD also wants to hear whether the change from grass to garden helped save water, drew more wildlife and/or changed how the space is used.

This is the second “I Heart My Garden” Photo Challenge; in 2018, more than 80 customers entered the inaugural competition and winners were featured in EBMUD publications, including Customer Pipeline, and EBMUD social media channels.

This year, EBMUD is proud to add two new contest categories: HOA Superstar and Business Superstar. The new award categories reinforce the notion that all customers play a role in conservation, whether they are renters, homeowners, homeowners’ association members or businesses.

“This photo challenge is a great way to recognize those who lean into the call for conservation. Not only do these customers make wise use of their water outdoors, which is the easiest place to cut back and the easiest place to waste water, but they also are rewarded with a gorgeous garden,” said EBMUD Manager of Water Conservation Alice Towey. “These landscape conversions give the earth what it needs – native and drought-tolerant plants – and give our customers what they need – a welcoming space to commune with nature. We are thrilled to celebrate our landscape conversion heroes, especially with the California drought hanging in the background. They set the right example and we hope they inspire others to follow suit.”

Landscape rebates

EBMUD data shows that nearly 30 percent of drinking water is used by customers to water outdoor gardens. EBMUD is partnering with customers to make it easier to save water with rebates for replacing turf with drought tolerant plants and upgrading to efficient irrigation equipment. Depending on the size, shape and microclimate of a landscape, customers can save hundreds to thousands of gallons of water each day by switching from nonnative grass to native or drought-tolerant plants. To assist customers, EBMUD offers inspirational photos, rebates for various aspects of a conversion such as installation of drip irrigation, coupons for mulch, virtual and onsite landscape audits, and a bevy of how-to videos, all at ebmud.com/rebates. Rebates reward residential customers with up to $2.50 per square foot for turf replacement up to $2,000 in credit on their water bills, and businesses up to $15,000.

I Heart My Garden Photo Challenge Rules

Between August 15 and September 25, 2022, EBMUD will accept photo submissions showing a lawn conversion before and after. There is no time limit on when the conversion occurred, but only conversions that occurred within the EBMUD service area are eligible.

From the submissions, EBMUD water conservation experts will select a top winner for each of five categories: Most Inspiring DIY (Do It Yourself), Most Colorful, Most Dramatic Change, HOA Superstar and Business Superstar.

Winners will receive prizes, such as an EBMUD award-winning book, “Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates,” a feature on ebmud.com and on EBMUD social media channels, and two free tickets to the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

All decisions by EBMUD are final and not subject to challenge. EBMUD employees are not eligible to win.

Full contest rules are available at ebmud.com/IHeartMyGarden. Follow EBMUD on Facebook and Twitter for contest updates and winners to be announced in October.


The East Bay Municipal Utility District has a proud history of providing high-quality drinking water for 1.4 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. EBMUD’s wastewater system serves 740,000 customers and helps protect the ecosystem of San Francisco Bay. EBMUD is a not-for-profit public agency established in 1923.


Nelsy Rodriguez
Public Information Representative