Reducing Outdoor Water Use Conserves a Precious Resource and Contributes to Greenhouse Gas Reductions


The average Californian uses 85 gallons of water per day at home. On average, 30-60% of this water is used outdoors, mostly for landscaping.

On June 24, 2020, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors adopted an update to the Landscaping Ordinance, which requires reductions in outdoor water used for irrigated landscape. This action will help our community save a precious resource and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing Outdoor Water Use

Reducing outdoor water use has several benefits. Using less water to irrigate landscapes reduces the amount of runoff entering the stormwater system, improves regional water quality, reduces energy and utility costs, and improves biological resources. 

In addition, reducing outdoor water use also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions reductions associated with the treatment and delivery of water to homes in the unincorporated county. Through the adoption of this update to the Landscape Ordinance, it is estimated that 17,535 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced through implementation of water conservation requirements included in the updated ordinance by 2030.

Water-efficient landscaping in Fallbrook

Planting Trees

The updated Landscaping Ordinance also includes a new tree planting requirement for single-family residences.

For each new single-family unit constructed, a minimum of two trees will be planted to facilitate carbon sequestration in the unincorporated county.

An additional water allowance will be granted to these projects to aid in the establishment of the trees, however there will be a net greenhouse gas benefit from implementing this requirement. In fact, it is estimated that through implementation of this requirement, 1,735 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by 2030.

Planting trees in residential settings also improves biological resources, can improve the energy efficiency of homes, and improves soil health on the property.


Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual

There are several resources available to residents who are interested in learning more about planting water-efficient and drought-tolerant landscapes in their yard.

The County’s Landscaping Ordinance website is a great place to start to learn more about the updated ordinance and includes an updated Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual to help you get started on a new project design.

This resource from the Sustainable Landscapes Program also provides great information on how to create beautiful landscapes that include native and drought-tolerant species.