Sustainable Landscape Programs

Tools and Guides

California Watershed Approach to Landscape Design

Written and designed by G3: Green Gardens Group, this publication was made possible with funding from the California Water Efficiency Partnership, Surfrider Foundation, Water Efficiency Trust and the generous sponsors of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers California Chapter.

Landscape Conversion Criteria Tool

CalWEP has updated and reissued its Landscape Conversion Criteria Tool intended to assist turf rebate program managers design effective and progressive rebate criteria.

Achieving A New Normal in California Landscapes (2014)

FOREWARD California’s landscapes provide essential functions throughout our urban environment. It’s where we recreate, cool our buildings, enhance property values, […]

CBSM Resources

Community Based Social Marketing Vol. 1: Case Study Review

CalWEP has developed a series of Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM) resources for water conservation professionals as part of its Landscape Tool Series. The CBSM resources consists of the following three publications: Vol. 1 – Case Study Review & Pilot Framework; Vol. 2 – Landscape and Outdoor Water Survey & Best Practices Guide; and Vol. 3 – Agency Survey Implementation & Findings. This off-the-shelf resource package is intended to provide water agencies and other interested parties with background knowledge and an initial blueprint for launching their own CBSM program. The project was funded by DWR’s California Water Efficient Products Initiative grant.

What is Sustainable Landscaping?

A landscape that embodies the watershed approach to design is considered sustainable and resilient.  Such an approach is a deviation from traditional designs of turf-dominated landscapes that are water and energy intensive. The watershed approach promotes a balance between resource efficiency and protection, environmental stewardship and quality of life. And it asserts that landscapes that integrate elements of healthy watersheds will generate multiple benefits while reducing their overall water demand. These benefits include:

  • Abatement of dry-season runoff;
  • Onsite retention of stormwater;
  • Embedded energy savings;
  • Reduced green waste generation;
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and
  • Enhanced wildlife habitat in urban settings.

Three Easy Steps to Sustainable Landscaping

1) Foster Living Soils. Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds Integrate Compost – improve soil health, productivity, water retention capacity, and carbon sequestration value Mulch the Top-layer – limit water lost to evaporation Reduce or Eliminate Pesticides & Herbicides – allow critical soil microbes to reproduce and thrive, limit human and animal exposure to harmful chemicals entering landscapes, and cut landscape input costs De-Compact Soils – allow subsurface air and water flow, plant growth, and water storage
2)   Conserve Water and Stretch Potable Water Supplies. Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds Use Permeable Landscape Materials – clean and absorb water, recharge groundwater, and limit the need for supplemental irrigation Capture and Retain Rainwater – limit the need for supplemental irrigation, and reduce stormwater runoff Consider Graywater – limit the need for supplemental irrigation, and reduce wastewater flow Minimize Supplemental Irrigation – augment natural supply only when needed with efficient devices at appropriate times
3)   Select and Properly Install Appropriate Plant and Landscape Materials. Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds Use the Right Plant at the Right Place and Right Time – choose non-invasive, native or climate-appropriate plants for a specific climate and geography; space plants for mature size; and plant in the appropriate seasons to help build soils, conserve water, and provide habitat.

CalWEP’s Sustainable Landscaping Initiatives

QWEL Training

CalWEP is a Professional Certifying Organization for Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper training, which offers an affordable, proactive, local approach to reducing water demand.

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Watershed Approach Trainings

CalWEP has partnered with the Water Efficiency Trust and community-based non-profit Daily Acts to launch Watershed Approach to Sustainable Landscaping program for residents of disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley region of California. This 4-phase campaign helps improve accessibility to outdoor water conservation programs and improve community.

Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds
View the Guidebook

Graphic Landscape Maintenance Guide

Access to a short, yet comprehensive, and easy to understand educational document on the proper maintenance of water wise landscapes is needed to achieve agency’s objective of reaching a greater sector of the landscape workforce and further bolster their landscape water efficiency education efforts. In order to optimize the number of end-users and maintain universal appeal, this guide will utilize symbols, simple images and emojis, rather than text. This approach helps to overcome language barriers that are a substantial challenge faced in areas where the majority of the landscape workforce is comprised primarily of Spanish speakers.

Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds
More info coming soon!