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Landscaping Tips for SoCal Watering Restrictions
Landscaping in SoCal

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California announced a water shortage emergency on April 26 and limited outdoor watering to only one day per week in parts of Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Bernardino counties. About 6 million Californians are affected.

The areas under the restriction rely heavily on the State Water Project. This is the first time the water wholesaler has made such a move.

Despite the limits on water, there are ways to maintain an attractive and inviting landscape. Larger commercial spaces like shopping malls, HOA common areas, airports, and governmental properties can benefit from some of the same tactics used by smaller-scale residences.

Southern Californians have created beautiful environments with Stay Green since 1970. Our professional landscape team’s water management services help commercial clients conserve water and pay less for utilities while still having a thriving landscape.

Here are water-wise tips that you can incorporate at your commercial property.

Irrigation Audit

Commercial properties typically have complex irrigation systems. Over time, these systems might stop operating as efficiently or as effectively as they were designed. Water heads get damaged, lines begin to leak, some areas get too much water, and some areas don’t get enough. Our landscape experts at Stay Green check for faulty equipment, test for leaks, analyze each watering zone, and conduct precipitation tests. We make adjustments and recommendations to improve the irrigation system.

Pressure Regulation

Since 2020, California has required all new sprinklers to contain pressure regulators to restrict the water flow to 30 pounds per square inch. Pressure regulators reduce the amount of water that runs through an older sprinkler system. The water savings might outweigh the cost of the initial investment in changing out the sprinklers.

Nozzle and Head Retrofits

Irrigation equipment has improved over the year. Older technology often wastes water. With a limited watering schedule, it’s important to maximize every drop. Older nozzles tend to spray larger droplets, which can be too much for the ground to absorb and cause runoff. High-efficiency nozzles spray less water per minute, giving the ground the time needed to properly absorb the water. Drip irrigation is another water-wise option.

ET-Based Controllers

Water is a precious resource. Over-watering plants is bad for the environment and for the plants. ET (evapotranspiration) controllers evaluate the soil water balance to determine how much water is needed. A software program determines what’s appropriate based on site-specific conditions.


Mulch reduces evaporation, helping the soil retain water. Mulched soil also keeps the soil cool, helping roots survive drought and high temperatures. Adding 2 to 4 inches of mulch on top of planting beds shades the soil and drastically impacts the amount of water required to keep plants healthy. This top layer of protection also reduces erosion and curbs weed growth. Water usage can be reduced by 25-50%.

Soil Enhancements

Organic matter such as manure, compost, and tree leaves can decrease the amount of soil nutrients lost to drainage. Inorganic options are also available. These enhancements amplify the soil’s ability to hold onto water and continue to nourish the landscape.

Turf Conversion

Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly. The drought in Southern California means that the grass won’t get its water needs met naturally. Those green blades can be removed and replaced with low-maintenance plants and shrubs. Beautiful stone pathways and mulch add texture and interest. Converting turf will drastically reduce water usage and doesn’t need to be mowed.

Water-Wise Plantings

When many people here water-wise planting, they picture cacti and other desert dwellers. Xeriscape equates to “zero appeal” in their minds, but there are so many more options. Salvia, purple heart, blue hibiscus, western blue flax, Douglas Iris, and rockrose are only a few examples that add color and life to the scenery.

Call the Commercial Landscape Experts to Evaluate Your System

California is in the midst of a record-setting drought. Water-thirsty plants, poor soil, and inefficient irrigation systems no longer have a place in commercial landscapes. Smart Green can transform existing grounds into vibrant and visually pleasing vistas without draining the water supply and provide a return on your investment.

Contact our commercial landscaping experts to learn more about our comprehensive landscape design and management services. Schedule a complimentary estimate by calling (800) 741-9150.