Design Requirements

Lawn-to-Garden Incentive (L2G) Program Design Requirements

Before you complete the application for this program you must read and understand these Design Requirements as well as the Terms and Conditions.

If your application for the Lawn-to-Garden (L2G) Incentive program has been approved, the next steps in the process are for you to complete the on-line or an in-person landscape class and submit to LBWD, within 90 calendar days of LBWD having approved your application, the design of your proposed new landscape.  

Remember: You have NOT yet been approved for funding. You cannot be approved until LBWD approves the design of your new landscape. So IF you begin work on your new landscape before the design is approved and the pre-inspection is complete, you do so prior to a commitment from LBWD to provide an incentive. Killing or removing the grass or beginning garden construction before construction approval is given by LBWD will disqualify you from the program.

Please note, synthetic turf is not an approved conversion option for this program.

The design approved by LBWD is the design that must be installed. LBWD will not be required to make the L2G payment if the installed landscape is not the same as the approved design. Read carefully the Terms and Conditions for more information.

A professionally-drawn design is NOT required: A simple, hand-drawn design is fine, using circles to show where bushes will go, etc. LBWD assumes most of the designs submitted to us will be simple pencil drawings done by your typical homeowner. The drawing must show enough detail to illustrate the overall project design. All designs must also include the name and location of each plant that will be used in the project.

When thinking about the design of your new landscape, don’t forget to take advantage of all the landscape resources we have developed for your benefit and use. This website was designed to make each step as easy as possible for you. The How To section includes information on each of the required project elements.

If, after reading these requirements, you have any questions about what’s required here please contact us at, or call us at 562-570-2455.

The Irrigation System

Effective July 1, 2018 all Lawn-to-Garden projects must be watered using an efficient irrigation method. Existing traditional sprinkler systems will be required to be upgraded to high efficiency sprinkler heads, a drip system or capped for hand watering. Traditional systems that are capped must be hand-watered. For those choosing to upgrade their irrigation system, there will be special exceptions for the use of other efficient irrigation methods such as bubblers and micro spray for certain shrubs, trees and uniform groundcovers. All exceptions will be made at the discretion of the Long Beach Water Department.

Examples of water-efficient irrigation systems include:

  • High efficiency sprinkler heads;
  • Drip irrigation;
  • Bubblers for shrubs and trees;
  • Microsprays which emit large droplets or fine streams of water just above the ground. They are suited for irrigating large flowerbeds.

In addition, all irrigation systems must include the following:

  • Pressure regulators, allowing no more pressure than recommended by the manufacturer of the drip system (usually about 10 to 15 psi) or the micro spray (usually about 35 psi).
  • Separate valves for each part of the landscape (known as ‘hydrozones’) that need a different watering schedule.

Inefficient irrigation systems include traditional fan-spray type sprinklers. LBWD may verify the efficiency of the irrigation system during its final inspection, prior to its payment of the Lawn-to-Garden incentive.

Additional Permitting

In response to the severe and ongoing drought conditions experienced in communities across the State of California, Executive Order B-29, issued by Governor Jerry Brown, directs the State Water Resources Control Board (Water Board) to update the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) to increase water efficiency standards for new and retrofitted landscapes through more efficient irrigation systems, greywater usage, on-site storm water capture, and by limiting the portion of landscapes that can be covered in turf. This Executive Order applies to new landscape projects over 500 square feet and re-landscaping projects consisting of more than 2,500 square feet, including residential, non-residential, and public projects.

Any landscaping projects that are to exceed 2,500 square feet throughout the entire property must obtain a permit issued by the Development Services Department. Projects smaller than 2,500 square feet do not require a supplemental permit. For more information on the City’s new re-landscaping regulations, call (562) 570-6194 or visit

Send us Your Design

After you have completed the design of your new landscape in accordance with the above Design Requirements, send it to us, along with any additional information as necessary, using one of these three options:

  1. Email the documents to Emailed documents CANNOT be photographs of the original documents. .JPG and .PNG files are NOT accepted.
  2. Send U.S. Mail or personal delivery to:

    Lawn-to-Garden Incentive
    c/o Water Conservation
    Long Beach Water Department
    1800 East Wardlow Road
    Long Beach, CA 90807

Once LBWD approves your proposed design you will be given the go-ahead by us to begin work on your new garden.

What to Include in Your Design

As mentioned, the drawing can be done by a non-professional and by hand. Although the drawing does not have to be at a high level of detail, it should show enough detail to illustrate the overall project design.

The new Design Reimbursement Program will provide a rebate of up to $1,500 dollars for customers who submit a design from a LBWD certified landscape professional. A list of local landscape professionals that have submitted their credentials to the Long Beach Water Department can be found by clicking here. To participate in the Design Reimbursement Program you must hire a landscape professional from our certified list to create a design for your garden and submit a copy of the receipt for the amount of the design.

Your drawing must comply with the following:

  1. The top-right corner of each page you submit MUST include the street address of the project, so we are able to match your drawing with your application.
  2. Your drawing MUST show exactly where the new landscape will be in relation to large, existing fixtures such as the street, sidewalk, driveway, home, etc. In addition to showing these large existing features, the drawing must provide the measurements (or size) of the area to be re-landscaped, in square feet. Final incentive payment will be made based on the square feet of the final project as determined by LBWD.
  3. Your drawing MUST label the plants that you will put in the new landscape, AND you must state if the plants are from the three websites listed below. If the full names of the plants will not fit on the drawing, feel free to use a code for the plants on the drawing, adding the associated plant names on a separate piece of paper. Only California Native plants and California-friendly plants may be installed as part of this landscape project. Two fantastic sites for selecting beautiful California-friendly plants are LA Coastal Gardens and A list of plants native to California can be found on the California Native Plant Society plant database, Visit our “Plant” page for help selecting the right plants. These sites provide details on more than 1,500 different kinds of beautiful plants as well as virtual tours of beautiful landscapes and gardens. All plants on these three websites are acceptable plants, with the exception of turf-looking grasses (such as Buffalo grass, Zoysia, or Kurapia). If you choose to install plants that are NOT on one of these three sites, the plants you choose MUST be pre-approved by the LBWD.
  4. Your Drawing MUST state: which option you will commit to:

    Option 1: That all the plants shown on your drawing are among the over 1,500 beautiful California-Friendly plants showcased on LA Coastal Gardens, and; or

    Option 2: NOT all the plants on your drawing are showcased on these three website. If you choose Option #2, you MUST submit with the drawing printouts from the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) website showing that the plants are rated as “Low” or “Very Low” when grown in the South Coastal region.

  5. Your drawing MUST show that plant material will cover at least 65% of the newly landscaped area with at least 10% being California Native plants. The California Native plants on your design must indicate they are with either a highlight, an asterisk, or bolding the font of California Native plants. Your new landscape MUST be designed such that it can reasonably be assumed that at least 65-percent of the site will be covered with plant material by the time the plants are mature, or within two years, whichever is sooner. This “reasonable” assumption will be made at the sole discretion of LBWD. An example of what is NOT acceptable: a new landscape that is almost entirely graveled, containing few if any living plants. Plants that are used to meet the 10% California Native requirement must be marked as such on the design or planting key.

    To calculate the estimated required plant coverages for your project you can use the following formulas:

    Estimated Square Footage of Lawn x .65 = Total Coverage Required

    Total Coverage Required x .10 = CA Native or Flowering Plant Coverage Required

    If, for example, your lawn is 1,000 square feet, you would use the first formula to calculate that your project would require at least 650 square feet of total plant coverage. After determining the total coverage requirement, you can use the second formula to determine that 65 square feet of your project area must be covered by CA native or flowering plants.

  6. Your drawing must group plants by hydrozones. Hydrozoning is the process of planting plants with similar watering needs together so that water can be applied as efficiently as possible through irrigation. Each hydrozone must be clearly labeled on your design. Along with the schematic of your design, you must submit an attachment page with a plant list that is grouped by hydrozone
  7. Your drawing must include at least one or a combination of the following storm-water retention features: (If applying for a project with transformation areas in both your front and backyards, only the front yard is required to have a stormwater retention feature. If applying for a front or backyard only project, a stormwater retention feature is required in the designated project area whether it be the front yard or backyard.)
    • Rain garden/vegetated-swale combination
    • Dry river bed/swale combination
    • Berm
    • Downspout diversion into a catch basin OR
    • Three inches of Compost amendment mixed into the top six inches soil + at least three inches of Mulch (receipt of payment for both compost and mulch must be submitted prior to rebate payment processing)
  8. 100% of the new landscape MUST be covered with NATURAL materials such as plants, compost and mulch, and permeable hardscape. The use of any synthetic materials is not allowed in the Lawn-to-Garden Program. Examples of permeable hardscape include pavers and brick set on a bed of sand, where no mortar or grout has been used. The maximum size for pavers are 1 ft. by 2 ft., 2 ft. by 2. ft, or 2 ft. by 3 ft. If not covered by permeable hardscape or plant material, your new landscape must be completely covered by at least a 3-inch layer of mulch. Acceptable mulch includes rock, compost, bark and other organic material. In other words, there can be no bare soil or installation of non-permeable (material water cannot easily penetrate) hardscape such as a concrete patio or walkway.
  9. If you are re-landscaping your parkway, it must meet all of the requirements of the City of Long Beach Municipal Code (Chapter 21.42.050). Designing a landscape for your parkway can be especially challenging. We have provided a few tips here(PDF, 767KB) to help you meet the requirements, and at the same time make your parkway the most beautiful one in the neighborhood. Compliance with the City of Long Beach Municipal Code Chapter 21.42.050 is one of the criteria for final approval and is your responsibility. You should read the applicable section of the code in its entirety by clicking here.
  10. Your drawing must NOT include any turf grass, artificial or synthetic* turf, or turf-looking grass.

    No turf grass, artificial or synthetic* turf, or turf-looking grass (such as Buffalo grass, Zoysia, or Kurapia) is allowed in the newly landscaped site. Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) and all other invasive plant species are prohibited from the Lawn-to-Garden program. For a list of invasive species and their alternatives, visit Cal-IPC and PlantRight.