01cafWhat is California Friendly?

“Smart and sustainable landscaping is the most visible feature of the California Friendly home, with outdoor spaces designed in harmony with the surrounding environment using beautiful and less-than-thirsty plants, state-of-the-art irrigation controllers and precision sprinkler heads.”

Our expert judges panel will visit the gardens of the semi-finalists in June. They will evaluate each landscape carefully and, after scoring each garden, will determine the division winners. From these five division winners they will then select the Grand Prize winner. The Best California Friendly garden in Orange County. The final results will be sealed until they are announced at the awards ceremony.

2017 Judges & Committee

Joe Berg

Water Efficiency Manager, Municipal Water District of Orange County

Joe Berg is the Water Use Efficiency Programs Manager for the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), a wholesale water provider to 28 retail water agencies throughout Orange County. Over the last 23 years Joe has developed, implemented and evaluated a variety of urban water use efficiency programs pioneered in Orange County. Joe is the 2013 Llana Sherman Excellence Award recipient form the California Urban Water Conservation Council for his local and community innovations in water use efficiency.


Tim Fiskin

Roger’s Gardens

Tim is the general manager of Roger’s Gardens Landscape and has been designing and installing gardens in Southern California for over twenty-five years. He is an award-winning designer who is especially interested in low water use gardens and was involved in Roger’s Gardens own drought tolerant landscape makeover. Tim is one of the most knowledgeable landscape and design experts in Orange County and has pioneered the use of water-efficient plants, low water roof gardens and high efficiency irrigation techniques.

Juan Garcia

Water Use Efficiency Specialist, Irvine Ranch Water District

Juan Garcia is a water conservation leader with Orange County’s largest water district. In his role he is involved in water use education and conservation. Prior to joining IRWD, Juan was the manager of educational programs for WaterWise Consulting, Inc. in Pasadena, California. Juan has a Bachelor’s of Science in Horticulture from Cal Poly Pomona and has been active in the irrigation and green industry for nearly 20 years. Juan is also a professional instructor for Metropolitan Water District’s California Friendly Landscape Training Program.


Darren L. Haver

Watershed Management Advisor for the U.C. Cooperative Extension in O.C.

Dr. Haver received a B.S. in Ornamental Horticulture from the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and a Ph.D. in Botany & Plant Sciences from the University of California, Riverside.He has been active in assisting agricultural producers, urban landscape professionals, municipalities, HOAs, and developers with the implementation of management practices to improve the quality of surface runoff.

Paul Herzog

Ocean Friendly Gardens Program Coordinator, Surfrider Foundation

Paul has a B.A. in Political Science and fifteen years of experience as a community organizer working on environmental and civic issues. Working with Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program has helped Paul and Surfrider become leaders in educating the gardening public about effective water use in home gardens. Paul’s grassroots approach involves such principles as smart plant choices, sustainable design, low impact development, greywater and wastewater recycling.


Tom Larson

Manager of Urban Agriculture, Farm and Horticulture, Orange County Great Park

With over 35 years of experience in the landscape and green industry, Larson has served on the State of California Urban Forestry Advisory Council Executive Board, was president of the Nursery Growers Association of California, founder of the Tree Society of Orange County, the Orange County Natural History Association and academic advisory chairman for the Forestry and Natural Resources Department of Cal Poly SLO. Tom has also been a Landscape and Irrigation Technical Advisor for The Metropolitan Water District and nearly invented the term “California Friendly”.


Cindy McNatt

Garden Writer O.C. Register, Retired

Cindy McNatt has been gardening since she was 17 years old, starting with a row of corn and a hill of beans behind a little guesthouse she rented in Pasadena. She has been digging in the dirt ever since. Today she not only still plants beans, she writes about them in the Orange County Register Newspaper. She has also photo styled for Sunset Magazine and published her own garden magazine.


Dan Songster

California Native Plant Society

Dan has over 35 years’ experience landscaping and gardening in Orange County. He has been happily designing, growing and maintaining California native landscapes since 1975. Dan is past President of the Orange County Chapter of CNPS, is a core member of the state CNPS Horticulture Committee, a charter member of the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC), and Co-Director of the Golden West College Native Garden in Huntington Beach.


Ron Vanderhoff

General Manager, Roger’s Gardens

A lifelong southern California gardener and professional horticulturist, Ron literally grew up in the outdoors, planting by the age of five. He has worked his whole life in horticulture, originally maintaining or designing impressive gardens in Newport Beach, including John Wayne’s. He is a leader in the local gardening community as an educator, writer, lecturer and innovator, and the General Manager and V.P. at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar.

Rex Yarwood

Nursery Manager, Roger’s Gardens

A professional horticulturist in Orange County for nearly two decades and one of California’s foremost leaders of plant innovations and garden trends. At Roger’s Gardens Rex leads the horticulture teams and is responsible for all garden plants and products, both at the retail store and the landscape division. Additionally, Rex oversees all product decisions, including the development of new programs, pioneering new plants, and designing the well-known display beds and landscaping. Rex travels locally as well as internationally and is known equally in local gardening circles as well as the national green industry. He has a keen eye for great garden design, effective plant combinations and intelligent ways to conserve our natural resources. Rex is an Ornamental Horticulture graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.