Landscape Planning

Landscape Planning Division

Well-designed landscapes add value to your property, your project and to the community. Great outdoor spaces encourage people to interact, walk or just enjoy the benefits of being outdoors. Landscaping especially large trees contribute to energy efficiency, moderate climate, improve air quality, reduce stormwater runoff and create habitat for wildlife. Air conditioning and heating costs are lower in homes shaded by trees or when a home has a windbreak. Property values of landscaped homes are generally 5-20% higher than non-landscaped homes. Investing in quality landscape provides many aesthetic benefits to the property owner as well as the community.


Jamie Richardson, ASLA

Sr. Landscape Planner

909 395-2615


Homeowner Information

Here are a few steps to saving water and a Water Wise Landscape Plan to get you started.

  • Select ‘water wise’ plants adapted to our dry climate. This reduces the amount of water required and ensures long term survival in the harshest dry seasons.
  • Plant trees on the south and west sides of your home to shade and cool your house and driveway and reduce air conditioning use and electricity costs.
  • Reduce the lawn area. Lawns use the most water and reducing the lawn area or using a lawn substitute you will give your home a new look and avoid the maintenance of mowing, edging and fertilizing.
  • Use water efficient irrigation systems. Less wasteful drip irrigation or rotary spray heads use less water and less waste by putting the water right to the root zone instead of running off into the street or sidewalk or to be picked up by the wind.
  • Change your watering habits: Plants require more water when first planted in order to grow and spread their roots. After the first few seasons, you can reduce watering as the plants become established.
  • Add mulch: Place a 2-3” layer of shredded bark mulch between plants to shade the soil and slow down evaporation. Wood mulch also nourishes the soil and feeds the plants.

Downloadable Files


Downloadable Files

Groundcover and Lawn Substitutes


Rosemary, rosmarinus officinalis prostratus  

A low growing variety 2 to 3 feet tall and spreading to 5 to 6 feet wide, cascading over walls or garden edges. The bright green foliage is covered during the spring bloom of pale blue flowers with its strongest flowering display in winter and occasional bloom through fall. Plant in full sun. Rosemary is resistant to deer and rabbits, tolerant to alkaline soils and drought. The strong scent is useful in parkways and as a soft barrier plant.

Echeveria, Echeveria Afterglow  

This very beautiful and vigorous succulent is 1 to 2 feet high and wide and has wide powdery pinkish-lavender leaves that have a brighter pink edging. The deep orange-red flowers grow from a tall flower stalk. Remove flower stalks after blooming to encourage growth. Plant in full sun for best color but it will also grow well in shade.

Honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica ‘Halliana’  

Fast growing, lush evergreen vine, the perfect cover for fences, walls or as a shrubby groundcover. Dark green leaves with whitish-yellow flowers add fragrance to summer landscapes. Plant in sun or shade in average or poor soils. Great for difficult sites, parkways or planters bordered by walls or paving but can be invasive if allowed to spread.

Verbena, Verbena Canadensis  

A tidy growing evergreen shrub with a mounding habit to 12 to 18 inches tall by 2 to 3 feet wide. Excellent colorful dense groundcover or foreground plant. This plant can bloom most of the year with a peak in spring and summer. The flowers rise up on stalks 8 inches above the foliage. Plant in full to part sun. This plant is great for attracting butterflies to the garden.


Lawn Substitutes

Yarrow, Achillea   

This striking perennial forms a spreading low 3 to 6 inches high mat of fern-like, mid-green leaves to 2 to 3 feet wide. The large flat heads, rising 18 inches above the foliage have yellow, scarlet red, pink, or lavender flowers beginning in late spring and continuing through summer. Yarrow is attractive to butterflies and beneficial insects. Plant in full sun to light shade. Withstands summer drought but looks much better with low to moderate irrigation. Can mow several times a year for a fern-like lawn substitute or allow to flower for colorful accent plants.

Ice Plant, Delosperma cooperi, also Lampranthus spectabilis    

Low succulent plants mounding from 2 to 8 inches high by 24 inches wide. Bright purplish-pink, orange or yellow 2-inch flowers bloom on top of fleshy green foliage over a very long period. Heat, drought, and salt tolerant, these adaptable plants thrive with little care. Protect in winter or remove any foliage that may be damaged by a hard frost.

Blue Chalk Sticks, Senecio Mandraliscae  

A spreading succulent from South Africa that grows to 12 to 18 inches tall by 2 to 3 feet wide with 3 to 4 inch long blue-gray pencil-like fleshy leaves and small white flowers in mid-summer. Forms a dense mat with leaves angled upward from the ground. Drought tolerant but tolerates regular irrigation. Plant in full sun to light shade, very hardy to around 15° F. A great groundcover. 




Waterwise Shrubs


California Lilac, Ceanothus griseus, Yankee Point     

A California native, is a fast-growing, durable shrub that reaches 3 to 4 feet tall and spreads 4 to 6 feet wide. Plants bear 1 1/2 inch long, glossy, dark green leaves and bright blue flower clusters in winter through early spring. They will grow well with no watering once established in partial shade, little irrigation when planted in sun. Prune occasional wayward branches to maintain a dense form.

Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina domestica ‘Gulf Stream’    

A beautiful small shrub 3 to 4 feet tall by 1 to 2 feet wide. Attractive displays of brilliant red foliage and berries in fall and winter. Versatile and durable, effective as a specimen plant, border or mass planting. Soft, lacy foliage.

Indian Hawthorne, Rhaphiolepis ‘Clara’   

This selection of the popular Indian Hawthorn is an evergreen rounded shrub that grows about 4 feet tall and wide with new growth that is a reddish copper color that ages to dark green. In spring the pink flower buds open to display pure white flowers. Plant Indian Hawthorn in full sun or light shade. This plant is quite drought tolerant in shade but appreciates occasional irrigation.

Dwarf Bottlebrush    

A small evergreen shrub that forms a 3 to 4 foot tall by 3 to 4 foot wide rounded mound with narrow 3 inch long bluish gray-green leaves. Flowers are bright-red bristle-like stamens that appear throughout the year, but peak bloom time is early summer through fall. Plant in full sun to light shade. A very attractive foundation plant or a low hedge and also great for attracting hummingbirds into the garden.

Sage, Salvia               

Varieties include Black Sage, Purple Mexican sage, Santa Barbara Sage, all are fast growing shrubs that can reach 1 to 3 feet tall by 2 to 5 feet wide with narrow 3 to 4 inch long gray-green leaves. The flowers are velvety purple to rose-lavender petals sitting well above the foliage. Peak bloom period is spring through fall until the first frost. Plant in full sun to light shade. Cut back annually in late winter to maintain the best appearance.

Autumn Sage, Salvia greggii      

Light green leaves vary in length from 3/4 to one inch long. A lacy small shrub reaching 2 to 3 feet tall and as wide. Red, white or magenta flowers cover the branch tips throughout summer and into autumn until short days and cool weather slow then stop their production. Prune to maintain a compact shape. 

African Daisy, Osteospermum    

Daisy flowers in shades of pink, purple, blue, or white on compact plants, that bloom from early spring through fall plant. The flowers sit above the foliage, 2 to 3 inches in diameter with dark-blue centers and an almost waxy appearance. Plant in full sun or part shade with good drainage. Very low maintenance, perfect for adding banks of color to gardens or naturalistic settings.

Sageleaf Rockrose, Cistus salviifolius 'Prostratus'      

A low spreading evergreen shrub growing about 2 feet tall by 6 feet wide. Gray-green foliage looks wrinkled like a sageleaf. In spring appear the 1 ½ inch wide white flowers with yellow-orange stamens in the center and a yellow spot at the base of each petal. Plant in full sun in well-drained soil and irrigate occasionally to very little. This is a great drought tolerant plant for securing sloped areas or other difficult areas. Consider also Orchid Rockrose 4 feet tall and wide with 3-inch dark magenta-purple flowers.



Waterwise Trees

Western Redbud, Cercis occidentalis     

A deciduous shrub to small tree, about 15 to 20 feet high often with several small trunks. It has numerous magenta pea-shaped flowers that bloom February to April along the bare stems before leaves emerge. It likes full sun, some summer water for faster growth. Its reddish-purple seed pods hang on the tree in winter. Redbud is native to California. In the garden it is a great plant for its attractive form, flowers, and foliage. The foliage is particularly attractive when backlit. The flowers attract hummingbirds.

Goldenrain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata 

A deciduous tree reaching about 25 feet in height. It has a rounded crown, with a spread equal and an overall lacy appearance. Yellow, summer flowers are in long clusters and in fall the leaves turn yellow before falling. The bark is light gray-brown and becomes furrowed with age. The Goldenrain tree is perhaps most striking in the fall with its large clusters of showy yellow flowers followed by 2-inch salmon colored papery seed pods.

Fruit Trees   

Consider evergreen citrus trees or deciduous stone fruit trees such as Peach, Nectarine, and Plum, Apricot or an Apple tree to accent your yard and provide fruit. Semi-dwarf varieties are much easier to maintain than standard sized trees. Look for unique cultivars with low chilling requirements for Southern California. Provide enough space to prune or pick fruit from all sides of the tree and consider the location to avoid fruit drop on pavement.

Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia             

A deciduous to semi-evergreen tree that grows to 30 feet tall with a rounded spread. The stout trunk has rough gray bark and long leaves are composed of narrow leaflets that give the tree a delicate fernlike yet tropical appearance. The lavender-blue flowers are a curved trumpet shape blooming in the late spring and summer. The flowers cover the tree and create violet-blue masses in the landscape then drop to the ground with color. After flowering, the flat woody fruit capsules dry to brown and then open. Plant in full sun with occasional deep summer watering. This incredibly attractive tree is widely used and best located where spent flowers and pods can be easily picked up in lawns or planters but avoid over a patio.

Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia       

A native to California and Baja. This beautiful drought-resistant, evergreen tree, ranges in height from 20 to 60 feet. The bark of young trees is smooth. With age, it develops deep furrows, ridges, and thick bark. After 2-3 years of establishment only irrigate to supplement winter rain during extreme drought; never wet the trunk. Oak trees provide great shade which cools buildings and paving. Plant in full sun to partial shade with 12’ clearance from the house or water lines. 

Strawberry Tree, Arbutus undeo 

A medium-sized evergreen tree, multi-stemmed and slow growing 20 to 35 feet tall or consider the dwarf variety compacta, growing 10 feet tall with a broad dense crown. The older bark peels away from the trunk and branches revealing the beautiful shiny red new bark underneath. The pendulous clusters of urn-shaped, white-blushed-pink flowers are followed by showy edible strawberry-like fruit. Drought tolerant, but looks best with occasional summer watering. Strawberry Tree thrives in full sun or part shade with little water once established.


Downloadable Files