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Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance

Garden at Ojai Water Efficient 500x250

A Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance was adopted on December 15, 2009, and went into effect on January 15, 2010. The new ordinance requires a landscape plan check for certain projects, as described in the ordinance. It includes requirements for landscape water budgets, landscape and irrigation design, and irrigation scheduling. The ordinance is located in  Section 7D3 of the Sonoma County Code (Building Regulations) and supersedes the existing Low Water Use Landscaping Ordinance located in  Zoning Code Section 26-88-110. Both public water users and ground water users are subject to the ordinance.

Landscape Design Templates Now Available
Residential Landscape Design Templates are now available and ready for download. There are eight landscape design templates, showcasing four different design styles. In addition, there are two plant substitution lists to help customize your new landscape.


The State Legislature adopted the Water Conservation in Landscaping Act of 2006 (AB 1881) (PDF) requiring the Department of Water Resources to update the  State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. All local land use agencies are required to adopt the model ordinance, or develop an ordinance that is at least as effective by January 1, 2010. PRMD worked collaboratively with a stakeholder group comprised of landscape professionals and representatives from local agencies to develop the ordinance.

State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance - Updated 2015

Landscape Plan Check and Inspection

A Landscape Plan Check is required for landscaping associated with the following projects requiring a building, grading, or design review permit:

  • Commercial and Industrial
  • Public
  • Multi-family Residential
  • Developer Installed Residential
  • Homeowner provided and/or homeowner-hired residential projects that include buildings or additions over 400 square feet, except where all of the following are met:
      The landscape area is less than 5,000 square feet;
    • Turf is limited to no more than 600 square feet; and
    • An irrigation system is installed and operated by a weather-based self-adjusting irrigation controller with a rain sensor.

    A final inspection, by Permit Sonoma Planning staff, is required to verify the installation of the landscape and irrigation system prior to final inspection of associated permit(s). In addition, a Certificate of Installation PJR-092 (PDF: 111 kB)must be completed by the property owner and landscape designer or installer.