Select drought-tolerant or climate-appropriate
turfgrass, trees, shrubs, and ground cover when
replanting landscaped areas. Information about
climate-appropriate plants may be available
through your local extension office
or on EPA’s
WaterSense® program website.
Incorporate shade trees into your landscape or plant
near large shade trees. Shaded areas typically require
less supplemental water than areas exposed to direct
sun. Additionally, shade trees and other vegetation
placed strategically to shade the south-facing wall of a
building can eventually help to reduce energy costs.
Consider reducing the area of turfgrass in the landscape, as most turf generally
requires more water than planted beds, especially if the plants are climate-
appropriate and their surrounding soil is covered with mulch.
Avoid installing “strip grass,” such as small strips of grass between the sidewalk and
street, because these areas are hard to maintain and difficult to water efficiently.
Consider installing rain gardens throughout the
landscape. These excavated, shallow depressions
should include native plantings designed to cap-
ture rainwater runoff from roofs, driveways, and
sidewalks. These gardens can keep water on the
property and absorb up to 40 percent more runoff
than typical lawns.
Although it is possible in many parts of the country to design a landscape that can
live on rainfall alone, some irrigation may be needed to ensure landscape health.
There are many factors that should be taken into account to ensure that an irrigation
system is well designed, operated, and maintained. More detailed information about
irrigation systems is available in
Section 5.3: Irrigation
but following are a few tips:
Use the technique of hydrozoning to group plants with similar irrigation needs
Consider how the interplay between the types of plants and irrigation compo-
nents can affect the volume of water needed to sustain the landscape. EPA’s
WaterSense Water Budget Tool,
developed to address residential landscapes in
WaterSense labeled new homes, can be used as a guide to see how plant types
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cooperative Extension System Offices.
EPA’s WaterSense program. What to Plant.
Sailor, David J. and Dietsch, Nikolaas. October 3, 2005.
The Urban Heat Island Mitigation Impact Screening Tool (MIST)
EPA’s WaterSense program. December 2009,
EPA’s WaterSense program.
Resource Manual for Building WaterSense Labeled New Homes
EPA’s WaterSense program. The WaterSense Water Budget Tool.
Avoided strip grass