California-Friendly Demonstration Garden

Customers can visit the California-friendly demonstration garden at OMWD’s headquarters for free on any day of the year. The garden provides a tangible example of the recommendations of the San Diego Sustainable Landscapes Program and highlights key principles of sustainable landscaping. 

hands holding healthy, dark soil Healthy, Living Soils Healthy, living soil is rich in organic content. The soil holds water like a sponge and has nutrients for better plant health. Healthy soil may also play an important role in reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide. The demonstration garden has a 1.3-inch layer of compost mixed into the soil and is topped with three inches of mulch to suppress weeds and reduce evaporation. Learn more about water-smart gardens, including soils, compost, and mulch, at

dry stream bed to capture rainRainwater as a Resource – Sustainable landscapes make the most of rainfall onsite. Water is captured from rooftops and other hard surfaces so that it can sink into the soil or be stored for later use. This garden demonstrates rainwater harvesting through a dry stream detention basin, a rain barrel, and a large cistern. Find planning resources, including available rebates, at

Gazania plant (orange)Climate-Appropriate Plants – A large selection of beautiful groundcovers, shrubs, and trees is compatible with San Diego’s mild Mediterranean climate. These plants use less water and exhibit diverse colors, textures, and shapes while providing endless design opportunities. This garden uses more than 20 varieties of very low to moderate water-use plants, placed in hydrozones where plants with similar irrigation needs are grouped together—see the full plant list here.

high efficient rotating sprinkler nozzleHigh-Efficiency Irrigation – A smart irrigation controller adjusts water automatically in response to changing site and weather conditions. High-performance distribution components regulate pressure and are tailored to fit the exact watering needs of different plants in the landscape. This garden has inline drip irrigation and rotating nozzles to maximize water use efficiency. Rebates on some low precipitation rate nozzles are available at

hydroponic gardening towerHydroponics – In 2023, OMWD installed a model of hydroponic gardening, donated by Tower Garden. Hydroponic systems grow plants in a water-based nutrient solution rather than soil. These systems can be used at homes, small farms, and large agriculture facilities. Hydroponic systems use less water than traditional soil-based growing systems and can allow for faster growth and higher yields. To get started at home, all you need are plants, a way to anchor the plants, water, nutrients, and a light source.

Additional Resources
OMWD’s water wholesalers regularly offer free landscape classes and have created instructional videos for creating your own California-friendly yard. Find simple ways to reduce your water consumption on our WaterSmart Landscape Tips and Resources pages.

Special Thanks

This garden was made possible through the generous support of the Hans & Margaret Doe Charitable Trust at San Diego Foundation, Hunter Industries, Grangetto’s Farm & Garden Supply, and Bushman USA.

water-wise garden dry streambed