Landscape Ordinance

County Landscape Architect: David Kahler | David.Kahler@sdcounty.ca.gov | 858-694-3040


Landscaping Ordinance Background

On June 24, 2020, the Board of Supervisors adopted an amendment to the County’s Landscaping Ordinance to codify Climate Action Plan Measure W-1.2, "Reduce Outdoor Water Use", and A-2.1, "Increase Residential Tree Planting" requirements. Reducing outdoor water use and increasing tree planting reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, conserves natural resources, and improves water quality. The operative date of the Landscaping Ordinance amendment is July 24, 2020.

The County’s Landscaping Ordinance is as effective as the State’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) which establishes water efficiency standards for new and existing landscapes. The ordinance applies to 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 has a more streamlined process called the Prescriptive Compliance Option.

Outdoor water use budgets can be calculated using the Water Efficient Landscape Worksheet (PDS-405) for landscaping projects greater than 2,500 square feet, or the Water Use Application Using Prescriptive Compliance Option (PDS-410) for landscaping projects from 500-2,500 square feet.

The Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual explains how people can comply with the County’s Landscape 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.

Click here for an informational flyer on designing residential landscapes that comply with the ordinance.


Click on the tiles below to access the Landscaping Ordinance, Design Manual, and additional links. 


Additional Links