Waterwise Landscaping

Waterwise Landscaping

Did you know the average household uses more water on its landscaping than for showers, cooking, and clothes washing combined? There are simple ways to make your yard "waterwise" - reducing your water use and preventing harmful runoff from flowing into our storm drains and creeks.

Lose Your Lawn

One of the best ways to reduce your outdoor water use is by replacing your lawn with California native or drought-tolerant landscaping. Here are some resources that can help make the lawn conversion process easy:

Waterwise Garden Inspiration
Recommended Waterwise Plants
Where to Buy Waterwise Plants
How to Remove Lawns without Pesticides

Livermore Municipal Water offers rebates for properties to transform their lawn into drought-tolerant landscaping. Remember to apply for this rebate before starting the lawn conversion process.

Get Waterwise

Even properties with traditional landscaping can reduce their water use through changes to their irrigation systems and maintenance. Click the links below to learn more about waterwise practices that can be applied to all yards.

Waterwise Irrigation & Garden Maintenance Practices
Hire a Waterwise Certified Professional
Need Help? Ask an Expert or Learn New Gardening Skills

Waterwise Garden Inspiration

Visit a Demonstration Garden

Looking for inspiration to revamp your garden? Visit a local California native or drought-tolerant demonstration garden to see beautiful waterwise plants in-person!

Granada Native Garden | 801 Murrieta Blvd, Livermore
A California native plant demonstration garden maintained by Friends of the Arroyos.

Livermore Earth-Friendly Demonstration Garden | 3575 Greenville Rd, Livermore
A drought-tolerant demonstration garden maintained by Alameda County Master Gardeners.

Sycamore Grove Park Native Gardens | 1051 Wetmore Rd, Livermore
Sycamore Grove Park features two California native plant demonstration gardens.

Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery |1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek
Features succulents and drought-tolerant plants from around the world. 

The Gardens at Heather Farms |1540 Marchbanks Dr, Walnut Creek
Features a variety of California native and drought-tolerant demonstration gardens. 

Free Landscape Design Resources

Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour Each spring, Bringing Back the Natives hosts tours of East Bay homes with California native landscaping. Information about gardens that have been featured on past tours are available on their website year-round. 

Tri-Valley Water-Wise Garden Gallery Explore this online photo gallery of California native and drought-tolerant landscaping. 

Calscape Garden Planner Discover the perfect California native plants and designs for your garden in just four questions.

Lawn to Garden Design Resources View free landscape designs created by Rescape California professionals.

Recommended Waterwise Plants

Plant Lists for Lawn Conversion Rebates

Are you applying for Livermore Municipal Water's Lawn Conversion Rebate? If so, use one of these plant lists to select your drought-tolerant varieties.

Tri-Valley Water-Wise Plant Database This database lists which drought-tolerant plants are perfect for the Tri-Valley region. All plants listed on this website qualify for Livermore Municipal Water's Lawn Conversion Rebate.

Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) This powerful database lists the water needs for hundreds of plant species. Plants listed as "Low" or "Very Low" water use for the Northern Central Coast region qualify for Livermore Municipal Water's Lawn Conversion Rebate.

Additional Drought-Tolerant Plant Lists

Do you have a plant in mind but are not sure how much water it needs? Or a specific problem spot that needs a particular type of plant?  These plant lists may be able to help. 

Outstanding Plants For Alameda County The Alameda County Master Gardeners have highlighted these beautiful plants that perform well, attract wildlife, and reduce the need for pesticides.

Bay-Friendly Plant Lists Download a Bay-Friendly Plant List for your specific needs: lawn alternatives, butterfly plants, hedges, plants that don't need shearing, and more.

UC Davis Arboretum All Stars 100 "All Star" plants that have been field-tested by the UC Davis Arboretum and have been found to thrive even under difficult growing conditions.

Calscape California Native Plant Society's database can be used to identify plants native to our region.

Plants to Avoid

Some plants aggressively spread beyond the garden and into neighboring open spaces, negatively impacting the local ecosystem. Visit Don't Plant a Bay Area Pest! to find beautiful and hardy alternatives to common invasive plants. This list is updated regularly by the California Invasive Plant Council.

Where to Buy Waterwise Plants

Many Tri-Valley nurseries and garden centers have sections dedicated to drought-tolerant and California native plants. If you are looking for a harder-to-find plant species that is not carried by local nurseries, you may want to visit a nursery that solely specializes in waterwise varieties. Many nurseries have lists of available plants on their website so you can browse their selection before visiting.

The list below is informational only. 
Inclusion on this list does not imply a recommendation or endorsement from the City of Livermore, nor is this list exhaustive or all inclusive. If you would like your nursery added to this list, email us.

Local Nurseries with Drought-Tolerant Selections Alden Lane Nursery 981 Alden Lane, Livermore
Western Garden Nursery  2756 Vineyard Ave, Pleasanton
Home Depot Garden Center 2500 Las Positas Rd, Livermore
Lowe's Garden Center 4255 First Street, Livermore
Armstrong Garden Center | 7360 San Ramon Rd, Dublin
California Native Specialty Nurseries in the East Bay East Bay Wilds 2777 Foothill Blvd, Oakland
Oaktown Native Plant Nursery 702 Channing Way, Berkeley
Native Here Nursery |101 Golf Course Dr, Berkeley
The Watershed Nursery | 601 A Canal Blvd, Richmond
Annie's Annuals & Perennials | 740 Market Ave, Richmond 
Cactus/Succulent Specialty Nurseries in the East Bay Cactus Jungle Nursery & Garden | 1509 4th St, Berkeley
The Dry Garden Nursery | 6556 Stattuck Ave, Oakland
Ruth Bancroft Garden & Nursery |1552 Bancroft Rd, Walnut Creek 
Seasonal Drought-Tolerant Plant Sales
Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden | Wildcat Canyon, Berkeley
Friends of Sausal Creek | Sanborn Rd, Oakland
UC Berkeley Botanic Garden | 200 Centennial Dr, Berkeley
Online California Native Plant & Seed Companies Larner Seeds
Theodore Payne Foundation
Native Revival Nursery

How to Remove Lawns without Pesticides


Did you know that you don't need chemicals to kill your water-thirsty lawn? Sheet mulching is an easy process of layering cardboard and mulch right on top of the grass. Plus, you can plant your new garden straight into the mulch. Visit the Lawn to Garden website to find step-by-step instructions on how to sheet mulch, find where to buy sheet mulching materials, and calculate how much water you'll save after losing your lawn!

Once you've finished the sheet mulching process, follow the Now that Your Lawn is Gone Guide to take care of your new drought-tolerant garden.

Waterwise Irrigation & Garden Maintenance Practices

Water-Efficient Irrigation

Complete a Spring Irrigation Check-Up Making sure your irrigation system is running efficiently at the start of spring will ensure that you save water and money during the hot summer months. If you have a sprinkler system, check spray heads for any clogs, overspray, or tilting. Trim back any plants that are blocking the spray of sprinkler heads. Learn more about how to complete an irrigation check-up 

Consider Irrigation System Upgrades There are many improvements property owners can make to have a more water-efficient irrigation system. Consider replacing your sprinkler heads with high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles or convert your irrigation to drip if possible. High-efficiency sprinkler nozzle rebates are available for Cal Water customers.

Adjust your Irrigation Controller with the Seasons Remember to turn your irrigation system off during the winter. Schedule your irrigation timer to water your yard before sunrise to reduce evaporation. Avoid watering when it is windy. Not sure how often you should water? Use the Livermore Lawn & Landscape Watering Guide.

Install a Weather-Based Irrigation Controller
Consider replacing your conventional irrigation controller with a weather-based irrigation controller. Weather-based irrigation controllers rely on WiFi or moisture sensors to automatically adjust your irrigation schedule in response to local weather conditions. Rebates for weather-based irrigation controllers are available for both Livermore Municipal Water and Cal Water customers.

Add Spray Nozzles to Garden Hoses The nozzles will increase water pressure while decreasing water use during hand watering.

Detain the Rain Rainwater capture systems installed on your property can help reduce flooding and protect the water quality of your local creeks and San Francisco Bay. Landscape designs featuring rainwater capture systems retain water during a storm, then slowly release the water over a period of time. These systems conserve water and reduce flooding, stormwater pollution, and erosion, while protecting our local creeks and the Bay. Learn more about rainwater capture systems

Waterwise Gardening Maintenance

Add Mulch to your Garden Use mulch around shrubs and garden plants to reduce evaporation from the soil surface and cut down on weed growth. A three-inch thick layer is recommended.

Follow the Guide to Healthy Lawns The University of California has created a lawn maintenance guide to keep your lawn healthy with minimal pesticides. Learn more about waterwise lawn care

Minimize or Eliminate Fertilizer Reducing fertilizer will limit new growth, which will also decrease the need additional watering. Instead, apply compost to your garden to keep your soil healthy. Healthy soils cycle nutrients effectively, minimize runoff, retain water, and absorb excess nutrients, sediments, and pollutants.  Learn how to compost your own food scraps and yard trimmings 

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Methods IPM is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests while using pesticides as a last resort. Using less-toxic pest control methods means that these chemicals cannot runoff into our local creeks. Learn more about IPM

Hire a Certified Waterwise Professional

Landscape Designers & Maintenance Professionals

Interested in hiring a landscape contractor? California Law requires that landscaping work be completed by a licensed contractor if the work is $500 or more for labor and materials. Be sure to verify licenses with the Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board before hiring a professional.

Below are public directories of landscaping professionals who have been certified in waterwise practices. These directories are provided for informational purposes only. Inclusion on these lists does not imply a recommendation or endorsement from the City of Livermore.  

WaterSense Irrigation Professionals A directory of landscaping professionals certified in waterwise irrigation system design, installation, and/or maintenance. 

Rescape Qualified Designers & Maintenance Professionals Rescape California offers certification programs for landscape designers and maintenance professionals. Training focuses on a sustainable, holistic approach to landscaping to conserve water and soil, reduce waste, and prevent pollution.

Less-Toxic Pest Control Professionals

If you are in need of professional pest management services, there are contractors that are knowledgeable in less-toxic pest control methods. Our Water, Our World has created a guide to help residents find companies who are committed to less-toxic pest management.

The two directories listed below show local contractors who have completed certification programs in Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which emphasizes using pesticides only when truly necessary. These directories are provided for informational purposes only. Inclusion on these lists does not imply a recommendation or endorsement from the City of Livermore.  

EcoWise Certified Pest Management Service Providers
Green Shield Pest Management Providers

Need Help?

Free Gardening & Pest Control Advice

Looking for advice for your gardening problem? Contact the Alameda County Master Gardeners. They offer free advice to County residents on watering, pruning, plant selection, and more. If you need advice on less-toxic alternatives to deal with a specific garden pest, contact the experts at Our Water, Our World.

Learn New Gardening Skills

Interested in learning more about gardening? Here are a few ways you can learn more about drought-tolerant landscaping, irrigation, growing edibles, and more in the Tri-Valley.