Waterscape Rebate Program





Terminology Glossary


Wondering what the difference is between a berm and a bioswale? Look up some common terms here.


Agricultural Irrigation
Rain Barrel Spigot


Berms are mounds of earth with sloping sides that are located between areas of approximately the same elevation. Berms are designed to direct or redirect water in order to keep water from flowing off the property (Definition from SoCal Water$mart).


Channels designed to concentrate and convey stormwater runoff while removing debris and pollution. They are typically vegetated, mulched or xeriscaped to help filter pollutants.

California Native Plants: 

From the mighty coastal redwoods to desert wildflowers and coastal succulents, California’s native plants are cherished worldwide. These are the plants that grow here naturally and have evolved over thousands of years, long before European settlers. They are uniquely adapted to California’s Mediterranean climate and form the foundation of our ecosystems (Definition from San Diego Planting Guide- Be Water Wise).

Drainage area:

The place in your yard where water from rain, snowmelt or irrigation will eventually flow to.

Drought-tolerant plants:

Plants that are able to withstand long periods of dryness without deterioration, going several weeks — or in some cases, a full season — between waterings.

Evapotranspiration (ET):

The process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from soil or transpiration from plants. ET explains how much water plants really need and when they need it.


Plants that spread over time to cover the ground. Usually this refers to low-growing plants, but can also refer to taller, spreading shrubs or trees that grow together to create a dense cover of vegetation.


Hard landscape areas including paved areas, driveways, walkways, or any other landscaping feature made of materials such as  wood, stone or concrete.


Areas where plants with similar water needs are placed next to each other. This reduces inefficient watering.


The process of applying controlled amounts of water to land to assist in the production of crops. There are two types: Spray Irrigation, which emits water in an overlapping, overhead pattern. Drip Irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots.


Climate factors that are particular to your garden. Every garden has areas where plants will flourish and other areas where plants will struggle.


Organic or inorganic material that covers soil, providing  a durable, protective surface barrier. Mulch reduces weeds, evaporation, and runoff, and promotes healthy soil and plants by keeping in moisture. Organic mulch, like shredded bark and woodchips, offers the most benefits for yards.

Pervious concrete:

A special type of concrete that allows water from precipitation to pass directly through, thereby reducing the runoff from a site and allowing groundwater recharge.


A large container in which plants are grown.

Plant Factors (PF):

A way to categorize each plant’s water requirement, from High PF (plants need 60-100% of the water needed for grass lawn) to Very Low PF (10% or less of water needed for grass lawn).


A type of washed gravel known for its smooth, rounded texture and versatility.


Excess rainwater or irrigation water that the land cannot absorb. Runoff flows across the surface of the land and into nearby creeks, streams and ponds, sometimes by way of a storm drain system. Runoff in San Diego is not treated before entering local waterways.


Also known as ‘grass’ or ‘sod’, this plant covers most American yards.


An area of land that drains into a common water body, such as a river, lake, or the ocean. When rain falls in the County and becomes stormwater runoff, it flows through eleven major watersheds.


A style of landscape design requiring little or no irrigation or other maintenance, often used in arid regions.

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Helpful Resources


Learn more about the world of water-wise landscaping. 



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