Landscape Design

You've decided to change out your thirsty plantings for a more water wise and more beautiful landscape. Fantastic! Where do you begin?

At the Waterwise Community Center we have a Landscape Design Room with resources to inspire you, open during normal business ours, Monday - Saturday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

If you are serious about taking on a low-water landscape project and are a resident of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, or Fontana, you are in luck!  We have a landscape design assistance program where participants can work with an experienced CBWCD staff member who will create a custom landscape design for your project at no cost!  See below for full details:

Design room

Residential Landscape Design Assistance Program

Through a collaboration between Chino Basin Water Conservation District, Inland Empire Utility Agency, and your local water provider, we are able to offer landscape design services free of charge!  Read below to learn more:

All landscape design appointments are held at the Waterwise Community Center at 4594 San Bernardino St, Montclair. Appointments are available for all residential properties in the cities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, and Fontana.

Before you request your appointment, please read this entire list. Participants need to understand all aspects of the following information:

  • Participants are required to attend our two-hour "What You Need to Know Before Your Landscape Transformation" class before they become eligible to register for the Landscape Design Assistance Program. For information about this class and to register for an upcoming session, click here. This class is focused on providing the information most people need to be successful with a significant residential landscape project, whether they are doing the work themselves or hiring a contractor. It can be more involved than many people assume, and we want to make sure you are as prepared as possible! We check registration in this program against attendance lists from the class. 
  • The program requires a $100 deposit for participation, fully refundable if the landscape project is significantly completed within 6 months receiving the completed design documents AND the program completion survey is completed.  See below for details. We estimate that this service has a market value of approximately $500.
  • Due to high demand, appointments must be made with at least two weeks notice.
  • Due to program demand, we can provide an appointment and design for EITHER a front yard OR a back yard, but not both. If you complete the first project, we are very happy to schedule another appointment with you for the other part of your property.
  • Appointments are scheduled in the order qualified requests are received.
  • After making an appointment, participants must send multiple digital images of their project area to .  Images must be received at least one week prior to the appointment so staff can review images and prepare for the appointment.
  • An experienced Chino Basin Water Conservation District staff member will consult with participants for approximately 1.5 - 2 hours in person at the Waterwise Community Center.
  • This program is primarily focused on designing waterwise landscape plantings. It is not in the scope of the program to provide extensive design of hardscape, retaining walls, or landscape structures. We are happy to include new walks, patio spaces, etc. in the design to the extent possible within the time we have to assist each participant.
  • Participants must do their own due diligence to ensure that all elements of the design meet city requirements and determine if permits are required.
  • Cities have code requirements for plant density of landscape areas. Most local cities require a minimum of 50% plant coverage at maturity for landscape areas. For this reason, designs produced as part of this program must be designed to have a minimum of 50% plant coverage when the plants are mature. Please understand that your design will need to meet this minimum or have a greater plant density.
  • Participants are asked to bring a list of ideas or pictures of plants or landscapes they like.  We highly encourage you to spend some time looking at online resources with great plants for our area including:
    • Inland Valley Garden Planner website  
    • Water Saving Garden Friendly website
    • Note: both websites above provide extensive inspiration for plants and gardens for our area. However, if you look at suggested watering schedules, they are very different. We feel that the watering schedules provided by the Inland Valley Garden planner are more suited for long-term plant health and success of waterwise plants in the Inland Empire and surrounding areas.
    • Check out plants and garden styles you might want to use in your garden, print them out or write them down, and bring those ideas to the consultation to get the process off to a good start!
  • Before the appointment, think about your budget for your landscape project.  Will you be doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor?  Are you replacing plants only or do you plan to install new walks, patios, etc? Do you think you will need a new irrigation system?  We cannot tell you how much your project will cost because that depends on many factors beyond the scope of this program, but if we have an idea of your budget, we can help advise to try to provide a reasonable design that will work for what you hope to spend.
  • At the appointment, participants will discuss goals for the landscape and then work with us as we create a computer generated design for the landscape project.  Participants will use this design and a plant identification key as a guide for installing plants and materials into the new landscape.
  • After the consultation meeting, CBWCD staff will finish the design, create a plant identification key and a custom plant list with the names and information about each plant selected for the designed landscape.  Participants will be mailed these documents either electronically or physically, depending on the clients' preferences, upon confirmation from IEUA that deposit checks have cleared.  Participants should receive their document package within approximately three weeks of the consultation appointment.
  • For the design, we can create EITHER a photo-like perspective rendering of the new landscape OR a more traditional bird's eye view drafted design, depending on available information and other factors. Perspective renderings require properly framed photos of the site. Drafted designs require a clear overhead image we can capture from Google Earth (sometimes sites are obscured by tree canopy or buildings) or detailed site measurements provided to us from the participant. Choosing which method will work best depends on multiple factors including your preferences, the site, and available information. Our staff will guide you through the decision based on what will work best for you and what we can produce with the available information and resources. Depending on the details and size of your site, only one of the two methods may be practical to provide your design. See below for examples.
  • Clients will be provided with a list of resources including sources of plants and other landscape materials.
  • We cannot tell the client exactly how many plants they would require, but can provide the link to a free downloadable guide that teaches those who wish how to create an accurate scaled drawing of their landscape which will allow participants to use their design rendering to get exact plant counts.  Alternatively, participants hiring a contractor can have the contractor determine the exact number of plants needed.
  • This program focuses on landscape design.  If you have questions about your irrigation system, learn more about our Landscape Evaluation/Audit Program here
  • After lots of appointments, we have found that appointments are most productive when children are not in the design room during the consultation.  Supervised children are always welcome at Water Conservation Center, but if possible, please arrange to have another adult supervise children in the garden or elsewhere at the Water Conservation Center.  If this is not possible, please arrange to provide some other sort of independent activity for children who will be present at the design consultation so the adult(s) can focus on consultation process.
  • We cannot provide appointments for landscape contractors, designers, etc. (unless it is for your own house).
  • $100 refundable deposit details: Due to the significant cost to the providers of this free service, we need to ensure participants are serious about taking on their landscaping project.  Requiring a fully refundable deposit has been shown to be an effective way to accomplish this.  Checks are to be made out to "IEUA" and brought to the appointment.  Checks will be deposited by the Inland Empire Utility Agency.  Program participants must provide clear photographs of their significantly completed project, emailed to within 6 months of the appointment date to be eligible for deposit refund.  Significant completion is defined as turf being removed if turf was present, and over half of the new plants installed.  Upon receipt of proof of significant completion and participants completing the program completion online survey, the Inland Empire Utility Agency will issue a $100 refund check to the person who wrote the deposit check.
  • To request your appointment fill out our online form (preferred) or call 909-626-2711.  We are happy to answer any additional questions about the program you may have, either at the phone number above or at

Below is an example of the document package we create for participants in the design program:

Design Rendering Example:

Starting Photo (Submitted by the participant):

design assistance program example before photo

Design Rendering, created by us working with you.  The more ideas and opinions you bring, the better we can match the design to what you like.  Remember, this is an image of what the landscape would look like when young, so you can see space between each plant and use it as a guide.  As the plants mature, they will cover much more of the open space:

design assistance program design example

Design Rendering with Plant Labels. These labels act as a key you can use to identify each plant with the spreadsheet, below, to know their names, purchase, and learn about each one:

design assistance program design with labelsDesign Key Spreadsheet. We provide this chart to use with the Rendering with Plant Labels, above.  Be sure to follow the links to learn about each plant and to use the listed mature size of each plant to guide your exact placement of each plant before planting:

design assistance program plant key example spreadsheetBird's Eye View / Drafted Plan Example:

Aerial Image (Captured by our staff from Google Earth):

Birds Eye Plan Before Example Cropped

Bird's Eye / Drafted Plan:

Birds Eye Plan ExampleA Planting Key document, identical to the Key provided for the Design Rendering style (above) is provided as a guide to the plant icon abbreviations, spacing, and additional information about each plant in the design.

We also have resources available during business hours with no appointment:

  • Books and brochures on plants and water wise landscaping for California
  • Visit our Water Wise Demonstration Garden, featuring beautiful low-water landscaping options for inland Southern California home gardens