Water Efficient Plants

Water efficient plants are shrubs, perennials, succulents, groundcover, grasses and trees that thrive in San Diego’s Mediterranean climate and need less water than cool season turf. How much water a plant needs—it’s water use — is described as a percentage of how much water cool season turf needs.  Replacing cool season turf with moderate water use plants, for instance, can reduce your irrigation needs by 30 percent.


70-90% = High Water Use


40-60% = Moderate Use


10-30% = Low Water Use


< 10% = Very Low Water Use

A Few Moderate Water Use Plants

These plants need about 30% less water than cool season turf.

A Few Low Water Use Plants

These plants need about 50% less water than cool season turf.

A Few Very Low Water Use Plants

These plants need about 70% less water than cool season turf.

Learn More

There are many more water efficient plants and trees native to the world’s five Mediterranean climate zones: the western coasts of North America, Chile, the Mediterranean region, South Africa and Australia. There are many websites, books and botanical gardens, too, where you can see these plants. Start with these.


Visit different nurseries, view the selection of water efficient plants and ask questions. Nursery staff have a lot of good information and tips to share.

The Water Conservation Garden

Go to The Water Conservation Garden to see how lush and beautiful water efficient plants are once fully grown. Take photos of the plants you like, then go to a nursery and ask the staff to help you identify the plants in your photos.


Need to know how much water a plant needs? Go to this website, click on the South Coastal box, scroll down to and click on Lemon Grove, click the Submit button, and type in the name of the plant.

WaterSmart San Diego County

Go to watersmartsd.org, click on the Residential link, and you’ll find a list of incentives and tools to help you learn about, design and install a water efficient landscape.

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