Landscape-Smart, Stormwater-Wise: Landscape Planning for Stormwater Pollution Prevention

county of san diego watershed protection program


Sustainable Landscapes Program

Sustainable Landscape, Soil & Sediment

Every new season has something beautiful to offer. As we transition from spring into summer, there’s no better time to consider planning for some sustainable landscape projects. Not only will they beautify your landscape, they’ll also play a key role in stormwater pollution prevention. Proper landscape design and plant choices that best adapt to the layout of your residence and climate zone will help to filter polluted stormwater runoff from washing into the streets and into our storm drain system. Water entering our storm drains is not treated before it reaches our local waterways and ocean, which can harm our water quality.

The County along with five other partners have developed a Sustainable Landscape Guide with informative tips and checklists for landscape-smart, stormwater-wise landscape projects. Here are just a few tips to get you started:

  • Clean your garden of trash, weeds, dead plants, etc.
  • Determine which plants, if any, will continue to thrive in your new landscape.
  • Scope your project by planning out your improvements and making realistic choices within your budget; tackle projects one section at a time before moving on to another and make small fixes first, then bigger changes in the future.
  • Contour for rain by designing the layout of your landscape to best capture and contain natural rainfall.
  • Select plants that are drought-tolerant and will thrive in your San Diego Climate zone, and group them by their water needs.
  • Ensure intelligent irrigation by rethinking and adjusting your irrigation system. If installing a surface drip system, put plants in the ground first. If adjusting/updating an existing system, do any trenching and moving of sprinklers before you plant.

Additional tips and information

Along with creating that beautiful landscape comes the need to ‘work’ the soil. When working the soil, it’s important to be mindful of the impact that erosion has on stormwater runoff and pollution. See our Soil & Sediment flyer for tips on how to prevent soil and sediment erosion.

For classes and workshops for a landscape-smart, stormwater-wise landscape, and other information on being WaterSmart, go to

May 2020 Garden Landscape


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Report Stormwater Pollution
Report observed pollution to the correct jurisdiction.

Citizen Access Portal
Research property information and permits. Apply for some permits online.

GIS Maps
Find property information including zoning designation with our web-based mapping tool. 

Watershed Protection Website

project clean water

Project Clean Water efforts are focused on providing a centralized point of access to water quality information and resources for San Diego County Watersheds. Click HERE to visit Project Clean Water’s website.