EVMWD developed these designs with local landscape architect, Laurie Levine with the goal of providing homeowners with designs that would comply with state and local landscape ordinances. EVMWD also worked with local cities to tailor the designs to local codes with the goal of streamlining the approval process for new residential landscaping. Homeowners using these designs should generally not need to hire a landscape architect or designer. EVMWD is pleased to provide designs that will help customers save water, time, and money and help beautify the community at the same time.
California Native and Drought Tolerant Plant
Landscape Installation Guide
In the EVMWD service area, outdoor irrigation accounts for nearly 70 percent of the residential water supply for a home. By planting California native and drought tolerant plants, customers can significantly reduce landscape water needs. This will help conserve limited resources and can contribute to reduced water bills.
- Reduce or eliminate mowed grass.
- Use a low-growing ground cover as a lawn substitute.
- Before starting to landscape, get an agronomic soil test from an approved laboratory to determine the soil pH, texture or soil type, salt content, and recommendations for macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. This is the prescription for what the soil needs and how it should be irrigated.
- Use organic compost and organic fertilizers to reduce pollution of our groundwater and to improve the soil naturally over the long term.
- Install drip irrigation. There are many brands and styles to choose from.
- Space drip emitters evenly around the base of each plant.
- When using inline drip irrigation for ground covers or perennials, make sure the row spacing is adequate to properly irrigate the plants.
- Trees and larger shrubs will need more emitters than small shrubs or perennial plants.
- Separate irrigation valves according to sun, shade, elevation, and slope (top, middle, bottom).
- Do not mix spray heads, rotary heads, or drip irrigation on the same valve.
- Install a “smart” irrigation controller with a rain shutoff device attached.
- Make sure no water runs off or over-sprays into non-landscape areas.
- Group plant materials by their water use (hydro-zoning). Use low water or very low use plant species in your planting design.
- Space plants appropriately for their mature size to reduce the need for constant trimming back.
- Set ground covers back from the street or walkways to make sure they don’t overgrow into the street or over the walkways.
- Conserve energy by planting deciduous shade trees on the south or west faces of the residence to get summer shade and winter sun.
- After the plants are installed, apply a 3-inch layer of bark mulch to cover the soil, conserve water, and keep weed seeds from sprouting. Keep the mulch 2 to 3 inches away from the plant main stem. Bark mulch adds nutrients back into the soil over time.
- Alternatives to bark mulch that conserve water: Crushed Decorative Rock, Decomposed Granite (DG), and Decorative Rock Cobble. Consult your homeowners association or property owners association for specific rules in your area.
- Apply irrigation deeply and infrequently. Check the soil with a soil probe or other device to measure soil moisture and root depth.
- Adjust your irrigation controller to water 10 percent less than you currently water and see if the plant growth is affected. You may be able to water less frequently or with less time than you think.
- Check the irrigation controller seasonally to adjust for changing weather conditions and plant water needs.
- Check the irrigation system weekly to make sure nothing is broken or functioning improperly.
- Reapply mulch annually or until plant materials fill in completely.
- Leave plant materials in their natural state. Don’t use string trimmers or mechanical tools to cut them back into unnatural forms. Trim plants only when they get unruly, at the end of the flowering season, or in the fall.
- Fertilize infrequently with organic fertilizers, such as Gro-Power or Tri-C.
- Use organic pesticides, only if needed. The plants recommended are generally resistant to diseases and pests.
- Trim large trees cautiously or use a professional who will “lace” or thin the trees no more than 25% of its leaf growth. Topping trees or heading back limbs damages trees permanently.