San Diego County Water Authority's Kearny Mesa Headquarters

SDCWA Kearny Mesa Landscape

It's one thing for the Water Authority to tell everyone in San Diego County they need to conserve water. It's something else to "walk the talk."


In 2006, we realized our headquarter's landscape wasn't as attractive as it could be. The maintenance was a significant drain on our facilities staff. More importantly, it was using more water than necessary. The original trees didn't produce the shade that helps eliminate evaporation. And the expanse of sod in the back was clearly a water guzzler.

SOLUTIONWater Authority Landscape

In an effort to "practice what we preach," the Water Authority's Board of Directors authorized the retrofit of its Kearny Mesa headquarters' landscaping to demonstrate and promote its outdoor water conservation message and display what can be accomplished in water efficient landscapes.

The conceptual plans were approved in November 2006 and the retrofit project was completed in June 2007 after three months of construction.

The Water Authority hired pH Exterior Design to develop a water-efficient landscaping plan to update 8,200 square feet of grass, trees and other plants. The two-phase project cost about $150,000. It incorporated California-friendly plants, shade trees, high-efficiency irrigation equipment and artificial turf. The project by contractor Steven Smith Landscape incorporates more than 70 types of plants in a small demonstration garden. It also includes signs identifying plants so visitors can take note of varieties they wish to use at their own homes, businesses or agencies.

The new landscaping incorporates a variety of conservation concepts including:

  • water-wise plants
  • shade trees
  • high-efficiency irrigation equipment

Here are just a few examples of the over 70 different plant species in our 1-1/2 acre demonstration garden:



  • Outdoor water use dropped by nearly 50 percent between 2006 and 2012, a savings of about 242,000 gallons annually.
  • Water bills decreased by about $600 per year.
  • Maintenance demands were reduced.
  • The business park where the Water Authority’s headquarters are located is moving toward adoption of water-efficient landscapes for parkway strips.


Click on the video below to take a tour of the Water Authority's demonstration garden with Nan Sterman of A Growing Passion.


To obtain a plant diagram of the Water Authority's site, please click on the image below:

To view plant details in PDF for each section (A-F), click on the links below.

 Succulent Garden

Right Front Section

Front Center Section

Front Center Section Near Building

Front Left Section

Front Left Section Near Building