The best approach to water efficient landscaping is to design a garden you want to spend time in. After all, indoor-outdoor living is year-round in San Diego. Jot down a wish list of what you would like to have in your garden and you’ll find that you no longer have room for a big lawn. Mission accomplished.

Live better

Create a place to drink coffee in the morning and have friends over in the evening — under or next to a shade tree.

Eat better

Grow organic vegetables in raised garden beds, have your own little orchard and grow a kiwi vine on the back fence.

Save the bees

Plants native to California are home, sweet home for bees. Bee populations are dwindling and they need new habitat.

Meet your neighbors

Create a front porch where you can sit and read the mail and you’ll end up making new friends.

Prevent water pollution

Create a 3-foot wide, 6-inch high berm with plants between lawn and hardscape to prevent runoff from rain and sprinklers.

Plant shade trees

Shade trees make a garden comfortable, raise property values and reduce irrigation costs.

It’s Hard Work, But Worth It

A smaller water bill might be the incentive that gets you started, but there’s a good chance that when it’s all done, talking with neighbors on the front porch or having free avocadoes is more important.

Where to Find Ideas and Advice

You might want to get a cup of coffee first, because once you start exploring these sites it’s hard to stop.

Botanical Garden

The Water Conservation Garden
You should see how lush and green water efficient plants are when they are fully grown — and this is the place. It is located at 12122 Cuyamaca College Drive West in El Cajon and is open seven days a week. They offer classes, too. Call 619-660-0614 or go to

Design Consultations

The Water Conservation Garden offers 45 minute consultations with licensed landscape designers on one or two Saturdays per month. Bring a diagram, measurements and photos of your yard along with a list of photos of plants you like. The consultations cost $60 for garden members and $75 for non-members and are booked on a first come, first served basis. Call The Garden at 619-660-0614 ext. 10 to make an appointment.

Landscape Plans

These plans were designed by landscape architects and designers and are a useful reference if you are developing your own plan. If you want to use one of the plans as is, go right ahead.

Child Friendly Plan
CF Introduction
CF Plants
CF Plant Photos
CF Irrigation Layout

Pet Friendly Plan
PF Introduction
PF Plants
PF Plant Photos
PF Irrigation Layout

Native Plants Plan
N Introduction
N Plants
N Plant Photos
N Irrigation Layout

Entertaining Plan
E Introduction
E Plants
E Plant Photos
E Irrigation Layout

TV & Videos

WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program
The San Diego County Water Authority has turned their series of classes on designing and installing a water efficient landscape into a series of on-demand videos. The seventeen videos are narrated by the class instructor, Sharon Lowe, and walk you step by step through the planning, design, installation and maintenance of your new landscape.
Nan Sterman is a garden designer and author right here in San Diego. Her website is full of information on all aspects of gardening and also includes links to all three seasons of A Growing Passion, her TV series on KPBS. Each episode is about a half hour.

The great thing about Sunset Magazine — this is their website — is that it provides ideas and inspiration and do-it-yourself instructions in the same article. Click on the Garden link and then the Landscaping & Design link.
This is where landscape designers and other pros post photos of their projects. Click on the Outdoor link and explore the photos for ideas.

eGuide to a WaterSmart Lifestyle
This online flipbook provides ideas, plant lists, resources and step-by-step instructions for designing and installing a water efficient landscape.
Here you will how-to guides on landscaping, plants and irrigation, and rebates on irrigation equipment.

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