WaterSmart Classes

WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program

Using water efficiently is a way of life and an important responsibility that comes along with the benefits of living in a beautiful Mediterranean climate like the one we enjoy in San Diego County.

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Program is a free educational program designed to give you the skills and knowledge to turn your water-thirsty lawn into a beautiful and sustainable landscape that saves water and will thrive in our region.

Choose from our personalized four-class series, three-hour workshops and videos on demand.

Upcoming & New


Three-Hour Design for Homeowners Workshops

These free, three-hour workshops teach homeowners the basics of landscape makeovers. Topics include soil, design, turf removal, plant selection, planning, irrigation, rainwater catchment and implementation — all the elements needed to convert high-water-use turf to a beautiful, water-efficient landscape. Registration is required. 

Three-Hour Workshop Descriptions & 2021 Dates

Upcoming Workshops

Water & Irrigation: Utilizing a Precious Resource – Sat 3/6

Installation & Maintenance: Protecting Your Investment – Sat 3/20

  • All classes are currently being held online.
  • All weekday workshops are held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturday workshops from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Please note that while registration is unlimited, only the first 100 registrants to join will be admitted to the interactive portion of the webinar. Registrants joining after the webinar has reached capacity will be redirected to the YouTube live simulcast.

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead: Understanding Soil and Site Assessments

2021: Winter Jan 23rd | Spring Apr 28th | Summer July 31st | Fall Oct 6th

This workshop will introduce you to the steps needed to turn water-thirsty turf into a beautiful and sustainable landscape that is. Our landscape expert will show you the steps required to rethink, redesign and renovate your landscape with a focus on site assessments, base sheet development and understanding the important role of healthy soil in a successful landscape.


Design: Shape Your Space

2021: Winter Feb 6th | Spring May 12th | Summer Aug 14th | Fall Oct 20th

Ensuring your new landscape is well-integrated into your personal lifestyle is the goal of this session. Our landscape expert will show you how to plan for the functionality of your new space and provide tips to achieve a design style that fits your personal style.


Plants: Inspiring Choices for Our Region

2021: Winter Feb 20th | Spring May 26th | Summer Aug 28th | Fall Nov 3rd

This session illustrates how a low-water-use landscape can be an upgrade, not a compromise. Our landscape expert will teach you about plants and why some are more water efficient than others. You’ll be introduced to attractive, WaterSmart plant palettes and learn how to research and choose plants that fit your design theme.

Water & Irrigation

Water & Irrigation: Utilizing A Precious Resource

2021: Winter Mar 6th | Spring June 9th | Summer Sep 11th | Fall Nov 17th

This session will give you strategies to use our limited water sources wisely, including integrating stormwater capture elements into your landscape and conserving water through simple irrigation system retrofits. Our landscape expert’s goal is to help you create a sustainable landscape that loves San Diego as much you.

Installation & Maintenance

Installation & Maintenance: Protecting Your Investment

2021: Winter Mar 20th | Spring June 21st | Summer Sep 25th | Fall Dec 1st

After planning your new garden space, it’s time to learn how to protect your investment. Our landscape expert will give you strategies for success when removing your turf, installing your new landscape and maintaining it. You’ll learn how to minimize your water use and maximize your enjoyment of an outdoor space that suits your lifestyle.


WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Four-Class Series

The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series provides a personalized experience to help you turn your high-water-use turf areas into WaterSmart landscapes. This is done through four classes that focus on your specific project and include lectures, hands-on lab work, demonstrations, homework assignments and one-on-one coaching by local landscape and irrigation professionals.

Enrollment in the four-class series is limited to 25 participants.

2021 Dates & Class Descriptions

Series Starting
Winter: Wednesdays, February 24 – March 17

Spring: Saturdays, April 10 – May 1

Summer: Saturdays, July 10 – 31 & Wednesdays, August 8 – September 9

Fall: Saturdays, October 10 – 23

Eligibility & Requirements

Class participants must:

  • Own their home
  • Identify an existing turf area for removal (brown or dead turf that is evident in a recent, original photograph is acceptable)
  • Have a functional in-ground irrigation system (sprinkler heads, irrigation valves or controllers shown in a recent, original photograph are acceptable)
  • Commit to attending all four classes in the series
  • Apply online and be approved for enrollment

Class 1 – Get Started

This class is designed to help you understand the factors needed to create a beautiful and climate appropriate replacement to traditional turf. You will learn the watershed approach to landscaping. This class walks you through the important tasks of analyzing your site, assessing your soil and consideration for how much water you ultimately want to conserve in your newly landscaped area.

download this documentClass 1 – Presentation

Class 2 – Shape Your Space

The new landscape you envision should support the way you intend to use the space. Imagine creating an extension of your home with consideration for the basic architecture of the house. What type of room would you add? In our Mediterranean climate, you can add an exterior room that may accomplish the same goal. At the end of the day, if a space doesn’t function well for the people who use it, it won’t be successful.

download this documentClass 2 – Presentation

Class 3 – Make It Happen

This class explains how you will be able to retrofit to an efficient water-saving irrigation system by becoming familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of various irrigation controllers, rotary sprinklers, pop-up spray head sprinklers, sprinkler nozzles, irrigation valves, and drip irrigation types. Proper maintenance and effective watering schedules are also covered.

download this documentClass 3 – Presentation

Class 4 – Design Coaching

In this session, you’ll be meeting with your Design Coach to finalize your LID, planting, and irrigation plans. If you’re still unsure of what you want to do, don’t worry. Our Design Coaches will work with you to develop the plan you need. Your coaching session will be by appointment.

download this documentClass 4 – Presentation

Registration Application

Application for 4-class series

  • Part I - Choose Location

  • You must indicate both a first and second choice. Session choices cannot be the same.
  • Part II - Applicant Information

  • Please refer to your water bill and provide the name of the water customer of record.
  • Please estimate the combined square footage of your project's turf areas. Smaller and larger project areas will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If your project area is less than 500 sf or greater than 5,000 sf provide more information in the Comments section below.
  • If you receive the error message "Temp file does not exist", please upload your photo again.
  • If you receive the error message "Temp file does not exist", please upload your photo again.
  • Part III - Terms and Conditions

  • The WaterSmart Landscape Makeover Series (Program) is sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority and its 24 member agencies. This educational Program is made possible by grants from the California Department of Water Resources and the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust. This Program is designed to teach homeowners key concepts for the successful execution of a water-efficient landscape renovation project in a manner consistent with the publication A Homeowners Guide to a WaterSmart Landscape.

    TERMS: By completing and submitting this application, the applicant certifies that he/she understands and agrees with all applicable program requirements.

    1. Enrollment: Selection of participants is at the sole discretion of the Water Authority. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Geographic location of candidates will also be considered to ensure a balanced distribution of participants throughout the service area. Applicants are not guaranteed a space in the class. Preference will be given to applicants with existing live turf areas to be replaced.

    2. Participant Responsibilities:

    a. Access to Premises: Whereas a Program agent will generate a site base plan for each Participant, and this will be used as a customized teaching resource, Participant authorizes and agrees to provide timely access to Water Authoritys agent to perform a landscape inspection to generate said plan. Upon notification from Participant of the completion of their project, a follow up site visit for documentation purposes is also authorized.

    b. Mandatory Attendance: Whereas Program resources and classroom space are limited, and demand for program participation is projected to exceed availability, Participant agrees to attend all four Program classes.

    c. Documentation and Reporting: Whereas the Program is partially grant funded, and the Water Authority has a reporting responsibility to the grant funding agencies, Participant agrees to provide the Water Authority and its designee access to the propertys water account data and to use such water use data in the conduct of its regular Program business, including grant reporting and promotional activity. Except for the water use data described above, the Water Authority will treat account holder information in a manner consistent with the California Public Records Act, including but not limited to Government Code Section 6254.16.

    d. Participant Deliverables: Participant agrees to complete the coursework, submit a final project design and to provide notice of project completion.

    e. Publicity Release: Participant grants Water Authority and its member agencies the right to use Program landscape plans, plant lists, photos, and other Program-related content generated by participants in advertising, publicity, and promotion through various media (videos, print, web, and other) in perpetuity. No addresses will be publicly disclosed. Enrolled participants will have the opportunity to opt out of this release at the end of the course, by doing so in writing.

    3. Waivers and Warranties: Whereas the Program scope is limited to providing education about water-efficient landscaping practices, Participants assume all risk and liability for their projects and waive and release the Water Authority, its member agencies and its agents from any and all claims and causes of action associated with Participants participation in the Program and subsequent landscape renovation. Participants are advised to seek specialized professional assistance where necessary and in keeping with local, regional and State laws.


    1. You must own and occupy a single-family residence within the service area of the San Diego County Water Authority. 2. You must commit to replacing one irrigated section of turf grass with low-water-use plants within six months from your participation in the Program, either on your own or by hiring a professional. 3. The turf area to be replaced must currently have a working, in-ground irrigation system. 4. You must commit to attending all four sessions of the Workshop Series. 5. You must agree to provide timely access to your propertys landscape area to the Water Authoritys agent for tasks that may include: soil sampling, testing of the irrigation system, checking water pressure, taking landscape area measurements, and other related Program tasks.
  • Part IV - Eligibility Certification and Acceptance of Terms and Conditions

  • When you have successfully submitted your application, you will see an Application Confirmation screen indicating that an email with a confirmation link has been sent to the address listed on your application.

    If you require assistance during regular business hours, please email landscapemakeover@sdcwa.org.

Landscape Makeover Videos

This series of 20 videos provides a step-by-step guide through the process of creating beautiful, water-efficient landscapes. These entertaining and informative videos cover numerous topics, from measuring properties and understanding soil to picking the right plants for the right place

Episode List

Episode 1: WaterSmart San Diego County

Episode 2: WaterSmart Series Overview

Episode 3: Identify Your WaterSmart Target

Episode 4: Create A Plot Plan

Episode 5: Get To Know Your Soil

Episode 6: Build Healthy Soil

Episode 7: Put Your Soil To Work

Episode 8: Rediscover Your Yard

Episode 9: Pick Your Plants

Episode 10: Share Your Space

Episode 11: Design For Curb Appeal

Episode 12: Create A Garden To Live In

Episode 13: Draw Your Garden Design

Episode 14: Irrigate Like A Pro

Episode 15: Toss Your Turf

Episode 16: Install Your WaterSmart Garden

Episode 17: Care For Your WaterSmart Landscape

Episode 18: First Flush of Rainwater

Episode 19: Catch The Rain

Episode 20: Store The Rain