Watering Guidelines

Water the right amount at the right time

Knowing when and how much water to provide is an essential part of caring for your waterwise or California native garden. Follow these simple guidelines, and learn even more through our free workshops and online resources.

What is one inch of water?

When watering your garden, one inch of water is equivalent to a one-inch rainfall. Imagine a one-inch blanket of water hovering over your yard, then soaking in. It will wet much more soil than just the top inch.

How long do I water to provide one inch of water?

Providing one inch of water depends on many things related to your irrigation system and layout, including the garden’s size, soil, and plants. No two gardens are exactly alike so the time it takes will vary, but we can help you figure out how to apply one inch of water to your garden.

How do I do this at home?

For overhead spray or sprinklers
1. Before watering, lay out several pint-size wide-mouth jars—or empty cat food or tuna cans.
2. Keep an eye on how much water they collect—they’re inexpensive rain gauges for your sprinklers.
3. Water until there is about one inch in each.

To find out how to measure one inch of water provided by any type of irrigation system, including drip, please visit our Garden PlannerNote: These are general guidelines. Observe and adjust as necessary for your landscape.

During establishment

The establishment period lasts about one year after planting and applies to California native, waterwise, and Mediterranean gardens.

All planting types
Provide one-half to one inch of water to the entire landscape area (sprinklers or drip), or 3–5 gallons per individual plant (hand watering) approximately once per week.

After establishment

Different planting types need different watering schedules after they are established.

California native plantings
Provide one inch of irrigation water once every 3–4 weeks only in the months it does not rain at least one inch.

General waterwise and Mediterranean plantings
Provide one inch of water every other week. Skip watering sessions when it has recently rained more than one inch, or if the soil is still moist.

Get Started

Download our Guide to how much and how often to water native and waterwise plants.

Explore our Retrofitting turf irrigation playlist on YouTube.

Learn about the Hose attached spot watering system.

Waterwise Garden Planner

Design Your Own Waterwise Garden

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