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Outdoor Residential Water Conservation

In the average American household, outdoor water use accounts for 58% of residential water use; and 80 to 90% of that comes directly from landscaping practices. This sizeable portion is usually due to large amounts of grass or turf, over-watering, or leaky or inefficient irrigation systems. Below are outdoor water-saving ideas and information:

  • EPA Ideas for Residents Acrobat Icon PDFs (972 KB) provides information on how to use water efficiently inside and outside the home. Also includes information on efficient fixtures, appliances and leaks.
  • EPA Landscape Water Budget ToolOffSite Icon will help determine if your landscape meets criteria for efficient water use in your area


Low Water Use Plant Lists

ADWR Regulatory Plant Lists are used to regulate public medians and rights-of-way in Arizona’s five Active Management Areas (AMAs). Jurisdictions within many AMAs officially adopt the local ADWR list and incorporate it into ordinances and design guidelines for development. The lists also serve as a non-regulatory resource for residents. The lists were developed independently with the assistance of plant experts from each AMA.

Phoenix AMA Cover, Photo

Phoenix AMA

Pinal AMA Cover, Photo

Pinal AMA

Prescott AMA Cover, Photo

Prescott AMA

SCAMA Plant List Cover, Photo

Santa Cruz AMA

Tucson AMA Cover, PhotoDYWU Cover, Photo

Tucson AMA

Low Water Plants for Cochise County Acrobat Icon PDFs (231 KB), University of Arizona Cooperative Extension - Cochise County and the Water Wise Program Partners

Landscape Plants for the Arizona DesertOffSite Icon Booklet and searchable online version, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA)

Arizona Desert Landscape Plants

Verde Valley Low Water Use Drought Tolerant Plant List Acrobat Icon PDFs (122 KB), University of Arizona Cooperative Extension - Yavapai County and ADWR

Payson Native Low-water Use Plant List, Town of Payson Water Department  


The Arizona Native Plant SocietyOffSite Icon has a variety of brochures that provide photos and information about plants that are native to Arizona desert regions, or are non-native but low water users. The brochures include information about planting, landscaping tips, water use, and maintenance.


The Arboretum at Flagstaff Resources PageOffSite Icon provides links to regionally-appropriate, high-elevation plant lists. Arboretum resources include photos and information on growing conditions, transplanting or planting from seed, and mail-order sources.


Water-efficient Landscapes


Xeriscape (zîr'ĭ-skāp'): A landscaping method that employs drought-resistant plants in an effort to conserve resources, especially water.

Xeriscape: Landscaping with Style in the Sonoran Desert is an illustrated guide that       Xeriscape Online

covers xeriscape principles, landscape planning and design, installation, maintenance, and

resources. Beautiful photos provide inspiration and design ideas.

For the interactive, online version, go to                             Xeriscape Landscaping with Style Cover, Photo

Ch 1 - Xeriscape Principles Acrobat Icon PDFs (2 MB)

Ch 2 - Eight Steps to Planning and Designing a Great Yard Acrobat Icon PDFs (11 MB)

Ch 3 - Your Installation Checklist Acrobat Icon PDFs (4 MB)

Ch 4 - Xeriscape Maintenance: Healthy Landscapes for Lasting Beauty Acrobat Icon PDFs (4 MB)developed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, 2000.



Watering Guidelines


General information

How Often and How Long to WaterAcrobat Icon PDFs (33 KB) explains how to determine a plant's water needs. Developed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Watering by the Numbers Cover, Photo


Arizona desert landscape

Landscape Watering by the NumbersOffSite Icon shows how to calculate the water plants and lawns need, how much water irrigation provides, and how to develop a seasonal watering schedule. Developed by the Cities of Mesa and Scottsdale for AMWUA (Arizona Municipal Water Users Association), 2003.


Regional information

Southern Arizona Landscape Watering GuidelinesAcrobat Icon PDFs (51 KB) provides information on the quantity and frequency of watering plants on the Tucson and Santa Cruz AMA Low Water Use Plant Lists. Developed by the Arizona Department of Water Resources in conjunction with the University of Arizona, Cooperative Extension for use in Pima, Santa Cruz and Cochise Counties.



Water-Wise Landscaping for Southern Arizona CD- contains information on over 700 low water use plants suitable for Southern Arizona; photos of outstanding gardens and photo galleries with inspiring design ideas.



Xeriscape Contest


The Tucson community has come together to continue the Xeriscape contest.  The Arizona-Sonora Desert Residential Landscape, PhotoMuseum, Tohono Chul Park and Tucson Botanical Gardens, and Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) have teamed up to organize and promote the contest. This important contest promotes the use of native plants, water use awareness and a commitment to the long-term resolution of water supply issues in the Tucson area.

For information, rules, entry forms and prizes, visit or call (520) 880-3010.


Plant Tagging Program for Nurseries

Drop Your Water Use, Logo   Drop Your Water Use is a program designed to educate retail nursery customers on how to plan and maintain

   a healthy and water-efficient landscape. The program is a voluntary collaboration between ADWR and nurseries

   that uses a simple water drop system to identify plants with similar water requirements.



Lawn Care

Desert Lawn Care Guide, Photo

Good Reasons, Photo   Good Reasons to Take Out Your GrassAcrobat Icon PDFs (3 MB) offers practical advice and tips for removing a lawn so that

   low-water use plants can be planted or to make room for new features such as patios and planters.

   Developed by the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA).


    Desert Lawn Care Guide Acrobat Icon PDFs (2 MB) offers practical advice and tips for maintaining a healthy and water-

   efficient lawn. Developed by the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA).


Fine Tune Your Irrigation System to Save Water and Money Acrobat Icon PDFs (274 KB). The EPA explains how water-efficient habits will result in a healthier lawn and landscape, in addition to conserving water and saving money.Drip Irrigation, Photo


Guidelines of Landscape Drip Irrigation SystemsAcrobat Icon PDFs (2 MB) covers drip irrigation in detail, including design, materials, installation, maintenance, operation and repair. It includes estimated water requirements for plants in Phoenix and Tucson, watering frequencies, and a simplified approach for determining landscape watering schedules. The Guidelines are useful for homeowners, contractors, developers and municipalities. Developed by the Arizona Landscape Irrigation Guidelines Committee with funding from the Arizona Department of Water Resources, 1999. Reprinted by AMWUA in 2001.


Don’t miss our Irrigation System and Artificial Turf Technologies for more information!


Your Grass Can Be Greener – Water Efficient Landscapes Start with Certified Irrigation Professionals Acrobat Icon PDFs (639 KB). The EPA encourages homeowners to choose landscape professionals who have successfully completed certification programs and demonstrated competency in water-efficient irrigation practices.


Find Arizona landscape professionals who have been certified under the following programs:

  • University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Smartscape (Horticultural Practices for the Sonoran Desert) - Phoenix and Tucson OffSite Icon

Cleaning a patio or washing a car is one of the least water intensive outdoor uses; however, there are still many easy ways to be water efficient while cleaning outdoors.

Residential Car Wash, Photo


  • Washing a vehicle at home can use 80-140 gallons of water, which is more than the amount used at a commercial car wash! When washing a vehicle at home, wash it on gravel or grass and use a bucket and automatic stop hose nozzle.

Residential Pool, Photo

Private pools are not recommended and water features should be limited. For residences that have water features, a spa and/or pool, visit the technologies page or check out the Pools and Spas Acrobat Icon PDFs (187 KB) fact sheet for more information on reducing water use and waste.

Conservation Section Navigation Links

Use the above links to navigate the Conservation Section