Landscape Ordinance

County of San Diego's Landscape Ordinance and Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual

In response to prolonged drought conditions in the State, Governor Brown by Executive Order B-29-15, issued April 1, 2015 directed the Department of Water Resources to amend the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) to increase water efficiency standards for new and existing landscapes and to limit the use of turf.  The California Water Commission approved the revised MWELO on July 15, 2015.  Consistent with the requirements of the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (Government Code 65991 et seq), the County amended its water efficient landscape requirements to ensure that the County’s requirements are as effective as the current MWELO at conserving water. 

San Diego County’s previous ordinance required all new commercial projects with over 1,000 square feet and single family residential with over 5,000 square feet of landscaping to create water budgets for their landscapes.  The new ordinance, which took effect on May 27, 2016, will now require any new construction for which the County issues a building permit or a discretionary review where the aggregate landscaped area is 500 square feet or more to obtain outdoor water use authorization. For those projects between 500 and 2,500 square feet, the County now has a more streamlined process called the Prescriptive Compliance Option.

The Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual explains how people can comply with the new ordinance and how to create beautiful landscapes while using water efficiently and protecting people and properties from wildfires. We've also included several links to find more information about a host of subjects, from water, to water-friendly plants and landscaping, to County regulations and guidelines