How to Save Water with Landscaping

The Coastkeeper Garden in Orange will reopen in spring and offer new ways to educate homeowners on landscaping.
Photograph Courtesy of Orange County Coastkeeper

Orange County Coastkeeper started its SmartScape program in 2010 to teach homeowners how to transition from traditional grass lawns to drought-tolerant landscaping. California-friendly landscaping saves water and reduces urban runoff, which poses a threat to the ecosystem. To help accomplish this goal, the organization created the Coastkeeper Garden in Orange, which has six themed example backyards on 21/2 acres of land showcasing landscaping plans homeowners can choose from.

SmartScape was developed to be a one-stop shop so residents don’t have to search around to switch to drought-tolerant landscaping. Instead, they are carefully walked through each step of the process to determine what they want out of their landscape, rebates they can get, how to maintain their new landscape, and more.

The garden is undergoing renovations and will reopen in spring, offering new ways to educate homeowners, such as how to select the best type of irrigation system and demonstrations on growing food and herbs.

  • The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California provides the majority of rebates for drought-tolerant landscaping and other water-saving measures. Learn about rebates, landscaping classes, and water-saving tips at

  • The fertilizer in urban runoff causes algae blooms in the ocean, which use up oxygen and cut out light.

  • There are four regions in the world that have similar temperatures to California—central Chile; the Mediterranean Basin; the Cape Region of South Africa; and Southwestern and South Australia. OC Coastkeeper developed a plant palette of California-friendly plants from those regions.

  • The initial cost of drought-tolerant landscaping is about $7 per square foot; homeowners save in the long run on water and maintenance. 

  • To become an OC Coastkeeper member, donate at least $20 or volunteer for at least two hours.

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