In the semi-arid climate of Southern California, water is the most limited resource that goes into the landscape. The choice of irrigation systems and techniques has great impact on the efficiency of water use. Benefits of efficient water use, besides a lower water bill, include a healthier garden and less work.

The method of irrigation is as important as how often you irrigate. For some types of plantings such as lawn, overhead sprinkler irrigation is most effective. Most of our soils cannot absorb water as fast as it is applied by overhead sprinklers. The best technique is to water in short on/off cycles early in the morning. Experiment with your own system to determine just how long you can apply water before it begins to run off the site.

Drip irrigation delivers water most efficiently to individual plants, so it is useful in beds. Use separate irrigation valves for each type of planting so individual scheduling is possible. Water according to your plants needs and adjust irrigation timers frequently to match weather patterns.

Another new irrigation technology that is also very efficient if set up properly are ET Smart Controllers. These systems use weather information and site conditions to determine how much water to apply and when to irrigate. Weather-based smart controllers draw upon a variety of climatic conditions. Smart irrigation controllers tailor watering schedules and run times automatically to meet specific landscape needs.  These controllers are a proven technology to improve outdoor water use efficiencies



Rainwater is a great source of free clean water perfect for irrigating landscapes. By directing roof drains into containers you can save water from a rainy day. In addition to conserving water and reducing your monthly water bill, rainwater harvesting helps protect our local watersheds and safeguards our drinking water supplies.



Graywater refers to the reuse of water drained from baths, showers, washing machines, and sinks (household wastewater excluding toilet wastes) for irrigation and other water conservation applications. The City of Calabasas and County of Los Angeles follow the current state greywater code that is basically the adoption of the international plumbing code. For more detailed information on greywater regulations and installation please check the following links.

Finally, a few rules of thumb:

  • For minimum hassle, the things you want to water should be downhill from the lowest point in your graywater system. Simple systems cost less and will be cost-effective in a shorter period of time.
  • No matter how much graywater you produce, you will probably still need a conventional irrigation system on at least part of your property.
  • Putting in a graywater system is not something that is going to save you a lot of money.
  • But it is one of the most effective things you can do to cut your exterior water use and reduce the waste stream from your home.

City of Calabasas 2017