Convert your landscaping to save water and possibly win a prize.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District is launching the I Heart My Garden Photo Challenge for customers to celebrate their landscape conversion projects and inspire others.

Until Sept. 25, the utility district invites customers to submit two before and after photos showing off 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 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, in a statement.

“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,” Towey said. “We are thrilled to celebrate our landscape conversion heroes, especially with the California drought hanging in the background.”

Planting for prizes

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’s winners will receive prizes, such as an EBMUD award-winning book, “Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates,” a feature on the district’s website and on EBMUD social media channels, and two free tickets to the Ruth Bancroft Garden and Nursery in Walnut Creek.

The utility provider is adding two new contest categories: HOA Superstar and Business Superstar. The new categories reinforce the fact all customers play a role in conservation, whether they are renters, homeowners, homeowners’ association members or businesses.

EBMUD data shows that nearly 30 percent of drinking water is used by customers to water outdoor gardens.

EBMUD offers 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.

The district 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 online.

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.

For the contest, there is no time limit on when the conversion occurred, but it had to happen within EBMUD service area. 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.

Full contest rules are available online. Follow EBMUD on Facebook and Twitter for contest updates and winners to be announced in October.