Water Wise Plants

For best results, it's important to choose the right plants for your yard, purchase quality plants, and install them properly. Find resources, pro tips, and where to buy below.

  1. Choosing Plants
  2. Purchasing Plants
  3. Installing Plants

Choose the Right Plants

For a plant to thrive in your garden it needs to be compatible with the local climate, your yard’s micro-climate, and your soil type. 

  • Local Climate: Choose plants that thrive in Contra Costa County. That means they should love cool wet winters and hot dry summers. Most California native plants and Mediterranean plants would work great. 
  • Micro-Climate: Some areas of your yard may have full sun all day (south side of the house) and others may be in shade part or all of the day (north side of the house). This impacts what plants you choose. For example, a plant such as Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha) may grow well in full sun, but in full shade it won’t bloom nearly as well.  
  • Soil Type: Most of us in Contra Costa County have heavy clay soil. A few areas, such as Oakley, have very sandy soil. Plants that require well drained soil will often grow quickly and die quickly if planted in heavy clay soil. Consider your soil type when choosing plants. Both soil types can be improved by adding organic soil amendment (compost). Visit Build a Healthy Soil for details. 
  • California Native Plants: It is always best to use plants that are native to your local region. These plants will thrive with little or no irrigation water and they help support local biodiversity including beneficial insects, pollinators and local birds.

Water-Wise Plant Lists

  • Gardening in Contra Costa County is a CCWD partner site offering a searchable database with vivid color photographs and detailed plant information. 
  • Bette Boatmun Conservation Garden is a living example of diverse and colorful landscaping that is water efficient. Find plant lists for the main garden and butterfly garden to inspire you.
  • Calscape Garden Planner is focused on helping people restore nature by growing the plants that belong where they live. Find the perfect native plants for your garden.
  • Native Pollinator Plants for Contra Costa County is a list from local landscape designer, Kelly Marshall, that includes information about water requirements and when the plants bloom by month.
  • UC Davis Arboretum is a list of 100 plants that work well in northern California gardens, even under difficult conditions. Find the right plants for your garden with their online database or download the brochure.
  • PlantRight can help you prevent the spread of invasive species. Invasive species can harm wild land areas, displace native species, and have a high economic cost.

Landscape Transformation

If you're considering a full landscape makeover, check out our Lawn to Garden Rebate and Lawn to Garden Approved Plant List (PDF). Plants not on the list will be approved on a case by case basis. For approval, send your plant names (botanical names, if available) to conserve@ccwater.com.