Protect Water Quality While Gardening

Conserving & Protecting Water

Landscape choices are critical in achieving good water use in the garden. A range of drought tolerant plants can be both attractive and smart. The proper irrigation system helps you save money in the process of beautifying your garden. A smart way to use it is the "cycle and soak" method to be sure water gets to plant roots and doesn't run off to hard surfaces. You also want to be sure you take time to troubleshoot for an efficient irrigation system.

Learn more about water use efficiency in landscaping.

Get some quick tips about California friendly plants.

In times of drought, take extra care to protect established trees.

For creative waterwise ideas, a Sunset Magazine special section can provide inspiration.

Water flowing off your lawn or garden from hoses or sprinklers can carry chemicals and debris into the storm drains. Over-watering and poorly maintained irrigation systems can cause hundreds of gallons of water per household to flow into storm drains each week. If water runs off your landscape and onto your driveway, sidewalks, or the street, your irrigation system should be checked for broken sprinklers, broken pipes, and the possibility that too much water is being applied at one time.


Here are some gardening tips you can follow to help protect water quality:

  • Carefully follow the directions printed on containers of fertilizer, insecticides, and herbicides. Do not over-use these products. Doing so can damage your plants and the environment.
  • Avoid rinsing these products into the street or gutter.
  • Do not use fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides before a predicted rainstorm. The rain can wash the products into the storm drain.
  • Adjust sprinklers to avoid over-watering:
    • Observe how long it takes before your lawn starts “shedding” water into the gutter.
    • Set your timer to the last minute before the water started to run off the lawn.
    • Check your controller on a regular basis.

Remember, if it is not raining, there should be no water in the gutters or storm drains. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help protect and improve our region’s water quality. For more information about what you can do to prevent water pollution by visiting the Orange County website.