It started with one question: Is there any landscaping guidance out there that considers BOTH safety AND efficiency? Because when we looked, some of these concepts contradicted each other … horrifyingly so. 

For example:

  • Energy Efficiency says: Plant arborvitae alongside your house to shade it.
  • Wildfire Safety says: Firefighters call arborvitae “gas cans.” Rip those things out!

And how many landscaping maps can you find that mention utility infrastructure safety clearance zones along with everything else?

Like, zero.

So the team at Okanogan County PUD in Okanogan, Washington, developed WISE Landscaping. Using the WISE components – water, infrastructure, safety and efficiency – we wanted to give landowners their best chance at conserving water and energy while at the same time keeping them safe in wildfire country and making them aware of infrastructure safety. But we couldn’t do it alone.

Love this idea? Use it. A customizable brochure featuring the WISE Landscaping map, a bill stuffer and four WISE Landscaping articles are available for free in Pioneer Studio, courtesy of Okanogan County PUD.

Idea Planting Partners

Our local Okanogan Conservation District manages programs for wildfire resiliency for landowners, using the official Firewise USA concepts. They also share water conservation concepts with locals. They were a natural partner in our educational campaign, so we brought them on early, asking them for information to incorporate in our design and sending them our materials for their review.

Washington State University’s Master Gardener program was another perfect resource. Their knowledge of native plants, especially those that are drought-resistant (water conservation) and fire-resistant (wildfire safety), was critical to our success. One Master Gardener reviewed all of our materials, then shared a map design we built off to arrive at our final product.

The Call Before You Dig 811 folks were more than happy to share their graphics and resources.

Just so happens, our Energy Services Coordinator Kim Johnson was working toward her Master Gardener status when we started the WISE Landscaping campaign. With her knowledge of both energy-efficient designs and good planting practices, she provided huge connections between concepts.

We ran all of it by our own engineering and construction folks to get the info we needed for the infrastructure safety portions, especially their preferences for clearance zones.

Mix it all together, and you get WISE! 

Campaign Takes Root

We created a four-part column for local newspapers to run. We posted it to our blog on our website as well, which we link to on Facebook.com/OkanoganPUD.

Our animated video series (created on the Vyond platform) was posted to YouTube and directly to Facebook, as well as on our website. Those avatars (of me and Kim) are now appearing in our weekly #OKWISEWednesdays postings on our Facebook page, with quick tips as well.

Because we didn’t want to deal with copyrights, we created our own landscaping icons in Adobe Illustrator and then put those into a big map to highlight the four WISE Landscaping concepts (water, infrastructure, safety, efficiency) in colored quadrants.

Some of our main points became a demonstration display at our county fair (a smaller-scale setup lives in our lobby now).

 

Grow WISE With Pioneer Studio

The beauty of public power is our commitment to sharing ideas and resources. In that spirit, you can have many of our digital WISE Landscaping resources for free. Pioneer Utility Resources has been kind enough to add customizable versions of many of these resources to a free WISE Landscaping content library inside Pioneer Studio.

  • Add your logo on them.
  • Place contact info for your local partners.
  • Rearrange the content however you like.

 

If this helps you get started on a similar project, that’s the goal. The safer and more efficient we each get, the better it is for all of us. Happy landscaping!