April blooms with sustainability, given the celebration of Earth Day, the springtime look of water-conserving demonstration gardens and the start of the Green Gardener training session.

Also, planting season provides homeowners with a fresh opportunity to replace thirsty plants and grass with water-wise plants and lawn alternatives. To help pay for it, four water districts in the county cover half the expense of materials up to $1,000 through the Smart Landscape Rebate program. Click here to view photos of hundreds of plants that use little water or for a CD titled “Water Wise Gardening in Santa Barbara County.”

To get out and see sustainability, attend Earth Day festivities from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in Alameda Park. The city of Santa Barbara’s Water Conservation program will be located in the city’s booth.

For another means of seeing sustainability at work, residents can visit at least six demonstration gardens in the Santa Barbara area. They are:

» Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens: City block bounded by Santa Barbara, Arrellaga, Garden and Micheltorena streets in Santa Barbara. A 4.6-acre informal park emphasizing exotic flora.

» Firescape Garden: 2411 Stanwood Drive/Route 192 (corner of Mission Ridge Road) in Santa Barbara, across the street from Fire Station No. 7. This 1.7-acre labeled, model garden demonstrates how risks of wildfire can be reduced.

» SBCC: Lifescape Garden/Chumash Point Ethnobotanic Preserve, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara. 805.965.0581. The Lifescape Garden features a variety of low-water-using and edible plants, as well as composting systems and efficient irrigation.

» Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: 12212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara. 805.682.4726. The 65-acre garden of native plants of California represents a variety of plant communities and important botanical and horticultural collections.

» Montecito Water District: 583 San Ysidro Road (above East Valley Road), Montecito. 805.969.2271. It features a labeled low-water-using garden using a variety of Mediterranean plants.

» Goleta Water District: 4699 Hollister Ave. (corner of Puente Street), Goleta. 805.964.6761. It features many native California plants and other water-wise plants.

For the hands-on approach, consider the next round of Green Gardener classes. Conducted by SBCC Continuing Education, the new session begins at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday for orientation/registration in Room 31 of the Schott Center, 310 W.Padre St., and continues for 15 weeks. The cost is $35. Classes are taught in English and Spanish.

Click here for more information on these programs and ideas on water conservation.

— Alison Jordan is a water conservation coordinator for the city of Santa Barbara.