New Demonstration Garden is Community Resource for Sustainable Landscaping

A new demonstration garden at the San Diego County Water Authority's headquarters in Kearny Mesa is designed to show visitors how they can increase water efficiency and boost the environmental benefits of outdoor spaces through sustainable landscaping practices.

WaterSmart resources

The Water Authority offers many resources that promote water efficiency as a positive and permanent lifestyle. 

Resources include:

  • Free WaterSmart Checkups
  • WaterSmart landscaping classes, videos
  • Home Water-Use Calculator
  • Rebates

Go to for details. 

In addition to employing well-known water-efficient practices such as using climate-appropriate plants and high-efficiency irrigation, the new Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden has features that further enhance water efficiency and achieve additional environmental benefits such as reduced stormwater runoff. These features include the application of organic soil amendments and the use of rainwater capture elements.

The garden features more than 20 varieties of very low to moderate water-use plants, uses inline drip and high-efficiency rotating nozzles to enhance irrigation efficiency, and demonstrates rainwater harvesting through a bioswale and water detention basin near the southwest corner of the building. It also includes compost in the soil mix and a 3-inch top layer of mulch to suppress weeds and reduce evaporation.

The garden also has an exhibit-quality sign to introduce visitors to key sustainable landscaping principles. The sign includes a Quick Response Code (QR Code) that enables visitors to use their smartphones to quickly locate related SLP resources at Smaller signs throughout the landscape identify specific plant types. Free brochures on sustainable landscaping featuring the landscape’s design plan and plant palette are also available for visitors to take home.

The approximately 3,000-square-foot garden provides a tangible example of the recommendations of the San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program, or SLP. The SLP is a public-private partnership among the Water Authority and the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, Association of Compost Producers, Surfrider Foundation, and California American Water.

Funded by a state Department of Water Resources grant, the program partners collaborated to produce the “San Diego Sustainable Landscape Guidelines,” a comprehensive, 71-page color guidebook with photos, diagrams and checklists to help homeowners understand how to implement a landscape transformation that follows SLP recommendations. An online version of the guidebook is available at

The garden was funded through a California Department of Water Resources Integrated Regional Water Management Program grant and additional donations from San Diego Gas & Electric.