760.329.6448 - Call 24 hours a day for emergency service
Click here to register your account.

  Search:
 
 
MSWD Home | Contact Us | My Account
 
 
MSWD
 

We take security seriously. That's why all of our pages are monitored, encrypted, and secured with the latest technologies.

Landscape Water Conservation

Many MSWD customers are captivated by the beauty and simplicity of our desert environment. No matter how long one has lived in the Coachella Valley, the brilliant sunsets, the fields of springtime wildflowers and the colorful rainbows seem ever new and breathtaking.

Our customers often want to capture that beauty in the landscaping of their homes and businesses. Many find that using MSWD resources helps them plan a desert-friendly landscape and then put their plan to work. You can be equally successful by following the steps outlined below.

Watch a slideshow presentation on Lifestyle Landscaping.  
(This file is approximately 8mgs and may take a few minutes to download.)

Watch a slideshow presentation on The 7 Priniciples of Xeriscaping.  
(This file is approximately 11mgs and may take a few minutes to download.)

You will need the PowerPoint Viewer to view these slideshows. Use these links to go to the page where you can get the free viewer:
Download the free Viewer app for pc.  
Download the free Viewer app for mac.

Landscape Makeover - Residential

If you are ready to bring a new look to your home’s landscaping, be sure to include water-wise and desert-friendly plant materials. Highlighted here are examples of three beautiful, desert-friendly landscape styles: Arid, Semi-Arid, and Lush & Efficient. These water-wise landscapes provide beautiful colors, forms and blooms and use much less water than the standard turf landscape, also shown below.

Arid landscapes include slower growing, low water use plant materials and often incorporate decorative rock or mulch into the landscape design. A 2000 sq. ft. Arid landscape design will use about 29,000 gallons of water per year.
Photo use courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Frank Airheart
   

Photo use courtesy of Sundance
Semi-Arid landscapes use plant materials similar to Arid, but may also include a limited turf area for pets and children, if needed. The Semi-Arid style may include a mix of low and medium water-use plants. A 2000 sq. ft. Semi-Arid landscape will use about 38,000 gallons of water per year.
   
Lush & Efficient landscapes may incorporate high water use plants or a larger amount of grass. Careful, ongoing maintenance of the irrigation system is a must, as well as shaping the turf areas to conform to sprinkler patterns and avoid runoff. A 2000 sq. ft. Lush & Efficient landscape will use about 56,000 gallons of water per year.
Photo use courtesy of Mr. Wayne Harris


A Turf lawn requires heavy maintenance and uses about three times more water than the Arid landscape. Turf lawns also look out of place, and do not blend in with the desert's natural beauty. A 2000 sq. ft. Turf landscape will use about 96,000 gallons of water per year.

Look through some of these links for ideas and styles that please you:
Now that you've done some research and have a general idea of what you would like in your landscape, use this handy water budget calculator  to figure out what your annual water allowance is and how your landscape ideas fit into that allowance.

PLEASE NOTE: The water budget calculator requires Adobe Reader 7.0, which is available for free at the Adobe Reader download page.

Here are directions for how to use the calculator:
  1. Determine the square footage that you wish to landscape. Enter that number into the water budget calculator to establish the annual maximum water allowance (MWA) for the landscape area. Based on your total landscape footage, the calculator will break it down into the recommended footage that should use drip irrigation (non-turf), and the recommended footage on which to use spray irrigation, should you desire some turf.
  2. Now for the fun part. Select plant materials you like from this low and medium water-use plant materials list.

    How many square feet would you like to plant with low water use plant materials?
    How many square feet would you like to plant with medium water use plant materials?

    How many square feet of turf would you like?

    Enter those figures into the appropriate boxes.
  3. The water use calculator will estimate the amount of water that your landscape and selected plant materials will use on an annual basis. Is it within your maximum water allowance? If not, go back and revise your plant materials list until your landscape plan falls within your water allowance.
Once your plan is set, your next step is the design and installation of an efficient irrigation system. Much information on irrigation systems may be found in the book "Lush and Efficient: Gardening in the Coachella Valley," or online here.

Be sure to consult with a certified contractor for this important step. In our desert, the irrigation system is the critical link between managing water wisely and water waste. Not all contractors who install irrigation systems also install plant materials, so you may need to locate a certified nurseryman to remove existing plant materials and plant the new ones. At any point in the design process, feel free to access the water use resources available from Mission Springs Water District. MSWD staff is well-trained and knowledgeable about landscape options that meet customers’ aesthetic goals and desire to use water wisely. Simply contact the District via our “Contact Us” page.
 

Landscape planning (in-fill projects which require a building permit)

If you are starting literally from the ground up and building a new house that needs its own landscaping look, you have many options. The three landscape options mentioned above, Arid, Semi-Arid, and Lush & Efficient, are available for selection by “infill” developers. These water-wise landscapes provide beautiful colors, forms and blooms and use much less water than the standard turf landscape. A plant list plus other information is available from both MSWD and the City of Desert Hot Springs.

Beginning with a map of the project site that shows relevant structures and ground formations is a good idea. Such a map will help you estimate the square footage that needs landscaping. From there, you can choose the look that complements your home’s style. Visit these links for how-to advice on creating your map and to see some landscape examples: Please be aware that projects in Desert Hot Springs requiring a building permit  also require compliance with water-efficient landscaping practices as outlined in the City's Landscape Ordinance and MSWD Water Efficient Landscaping Guidelines. The Ordinance and Guidelines may also be found in the City's Building and Development Code. The Guidelines establish a water budget for the area to be landscaped and then compute the expected water use for the landscape plan. The expected water use cannot exceed the water budget.

You can find out what your annual water allowance is by using this handy water budget calculator . To use the calculator you will need the following information:
  1. The area to be landscaped (in square feet)
  2. The area to be covered by low water use plant material (in square feet)
  3. The area to be covered by medium water use plant material (in square feet)
  4. The area to be covered by turf (in square feet)

PLEASE NOTE: The water budget calculator requires Adobe Reader 7.0, which is available for free at the Adobe Reader download page.

The Guidelines also outline an inspection and sign-off process to confirm that the landscape that is installed is consistent with the approved landscape design. Please note that you or your landscape architect will need to make arrangements with MSWD to have your newly installed landscaping and irrigation system inspected by District staff as part of the Certificate approval process.

The steps you must follow to obtain a permit are as follows:
  1. Landscape concepts or plans must be reviewed and approved by MSWD. If the plans or concepts are not approved, they must be reworked until they comply with MSWD Water Efficient Landscaping Guidelines .
  2. Once approved, MSWD will issue a concept letter to the City and builder.
  3. Builder completes construction and installs landscape and irrigation system.
  4. The landscaping and irrigation system is inspected by MSWD.
  5. Upon passing inspection, the builder or landscape architect completes a Certificate of Substantial Completion and sends it to the City, with copies sent to the owner and MSWD. This Certificate then becomes part of the final escrow closing process.

MSWD staff welcomes the opportunity to provide additional information and support in establishing water use for your project. Feel free to contact us  with your questions.
 

Landscape planning (tract projects)

Please be aware that developers of residential tracts in Desert Hot Springs are required to comply with water-efficient landscaping practices. Water Efficient Landscaping Guidelines  have been developed by Mission Springs Water District and are contained in the City of Desert Hot Springs Building and Development Code. A Landscape Documentation Package is required from all tract developers in order for project plans to be approved. Once the landscaping is installed and passes inspection, a Certificate of Substantial Completion is completed as part of the escrow closing process.

Materials that explain how to comply with the MSWD Water Efficient Landscaping Guidelines  are available from both the City of Desert Hot Springs and MSWD. In general, the Guidelines establish a water budget for the area to be landscaped and then compute the expected water use for the landscape plan. The expected water use cannot exceed the budget. The Guidelines also outline an inspection and sign off process to confirm that the landscape that is installed is consistent with the approved landscape design. Please note that you will need to make arrangements with MSWD to have your newly installed landscaping and irrigation system inspected by MSWD staff as part of the Certificate approval process.

Most landscape architects in the Coachella Valley are familiar with the Landscape Documentation Package and have experience in completing it. They routinely make the water calculations required by the MSWD Guidelines. Tract developers are encouraged to contact MSWD staff  early in the process of landscape design so that the data points required to make the water calculations can be confirmed. Early consultation affords an efficient and less expensive review process.