Free Guide Shows Homeowners How to Create “WaterSmart” Landscapes

August 31, 2012

Homeowners looking for help on how to transform their yards from water guzzlers to more sustainable displays of water efficiency…

Homeowners looking for help on how to transform their yards from water guzzlers to more sustainable displays of water efficiency and beauty now have a new, free guidebook to show them the way. 

The San Diego County Water Authority today announced the availability of “A Homeowner’s Guide to a WaterSmart Landscape.” The 44-page guide, available in a reader-friendly online flipbook at, offers step-by-step instructions on how to create a “WaterSmart” landscape – a landscape that combines water-efficient design and irrigation, climate-appropriate plants and best maintenance practices to deliver potentially significant water savings and attractive looks.

“We know people in San Diego County love to have nice landscapes, and at the same time many people want to use less water,” Water Authority Board Chair Michael T. Hogan said.  “We hope this guide will inspire and empower more people to create gardens and yards that accomplish both goals. It’s a better way to beautiful.”

Hogan spoke at a gathering to promote the guide at the home of Bill and Vannete Wirant in Escondido.  The Wirants converted their yard into a landscape that reflects the design, irrigation, plant and maintenance principles in “A Homeowner’s Guide to a WaterSmart Landscape.”  Their new landscape has helped cut their home’s water use by nearly 50 percent. 

Before-and-after photos of the Wirants’ new landscape also are available at

 “San Diego County residents take great pride in their outdoor spaces, and this guide provides a clear, helpful path to creating many different kinds of landscapes they can show off for their aesthetics as well as for their water efficiency,” said Glen Schmidt, FASLA, a nationally renowned landscape architect from San Diego and principal of Schmidt Design Group, Inc., who wrote the guide.   “It covers basic things such as how to test your soil, create a plot plan and choose your plants.  But it doesn’t stop there.  It also explains about proper watering techniques and how to care for your landscaping once it is planted.”

The publication, which reflects the standards of the state’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, also has an extensive list of water-efficient plants homeowners can find at local nurseries. It also features water conservation tips, advice on irrigation systems, a water–use calculations worksheet and a case study that illustrates all the steps in the guide.

More than half of a single-family home’s water use in San Diego County can occur outdoors if it has traditional, water-intensive landscaping.  Given the region’s dependence on imported water, the water savings from switching to a “WaterSmart” landscape has wider benefits than simply those for the homeowner, Hogan said.

“About 80 percent of the water used in the region is imported from sources hundreds of miles away, and these supplies are vulnerable to drought, disaster or regulatory restrictions,” Hogan said.  “Having a WaterSmart landscape helps the Water Authority and our 24 member retail water agencies manage our water supplies that are so important to the region’s $186 billion economy and our quality of life.”

  • The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $268 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 23 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

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