Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Projects to Save Water This Summer

In response to major drought conditions, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that eco-friendly measures would be taken by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power as they begin Phase 3 of their emergency water conservation plan. The transition, which went into effect on June 1, 2022, requires all LADWP customers to cut the number of days they water outdoors from three to two.

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we get inquiries every day from homeowners looking to make their homes more eco-friendly – here are some key points you need to know.

New Watering Restrictions for Los Angeles County

Eco-Friendly Sprinklers.jpg

These new water restrictions, in combination with previous watering limits, mean lawn and garden care looks like this:

  • Residents with street addresses ending in even numbers can water only on Mondays and Fridays.
  • Residents with street addresses ending in odd numbers are restricted to watering on Thursdays and Sundays. 
  • Residents must do their watering in the early morning or later in the evening. Watering between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. is prohibited regardless of whether it’s an approved watering day.
  • Watering with standard sprinklers is limited to 8 minutes on an approved watering day.
  • Watering with sprinklers that incorporate water-conserving nozzles is limited to 15 minutes of use on an approved watering day. 

Residents who don’t comply with these rules will be issued a warning, followed by escalating fines for repeated offenses. But conservation doesn’t have to mean deprivation. A licensed general contractor specializing in backyard remodeling can help you create enjoyable outdoor spaces that save water. Here are a few eco-friendly home improvement ideas to get you started. 

Lawn and Garden Eco-friendly Projects

Eco-Friendly Succulents.jpg

The grasses and plants you choose will have a major impact on your water usage. Drought-tolerant natives will thrive despite watering limits, but you can still enjoy showy cultivars with some strategic planting without using hard water. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Native species like Matilija Poppy, Hoary California Fuchsia, and Desert Mallow bloom beautifully with minimal watering. Succulents like Our Lord’s Candle, Chalk Liveforever, and Shaw’s Agave offer easy textural interest. A general contractor with experience in landscape design will be able to guide you through creating gorgeous groupings that require little to no maintenance.
  • If you love the look of tropical plants, try having them arranged together and focusing irrigation in that area. 
  • Consider replacing your grass lawn with drought-tolerant plants or even artificial turf. This simple swap will save a 1,000-square-foot lawn between 35 and 75 gallons of water annually.
  • Having a thick layer of living mulch applied around plantings and throughout gardens not only improves water retention and protects root systems against temperature fluctuations but will add nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.
  • Weeds compete with your other plants for nutrients and water. Whether you hire a gardener or pull them yourself, managing weed growth will help you save water.

Smart Irrigation is Eco-Friendly and Can Save Water

Eco-Friendly Rain Barrel.jpg

If you already have an irrigation system in place, it’s worth having it — and the rest of your home — inspected for leaks. According to the EPA, the average household’s water leaks account for a whopping 10,000 gallons of wasted water each year. 

If you’re having a system installed — or upgrading your current one — there are a number of options that will help you optimize your water usage.

  • A rain sensor is a mechanism that will signal the irrigation system to skip watering cycles after sufficient rainfall.
  • A smart controller gives you better control over water usage so you can conserve water at home
  • Drip lines efficiently deliver water directly to plant roots, which minimizes water loss due to evaporation. 
  • A gray-water system diverts water used in your washing machine to your irrigation system. If you go this route, it’s important to use non-toxic laundry detergents. 
  • Adding rain barrels to your gutter system helps you capture rainwater and redirect it to your irrigation system. 
  • The LADWP is offering a number of rebates to ease the financial burden of eco-friendly home improvement projects. For example, one rebate offers $3 per square foot of turf replacement for up to 5,000 square feet. Another offers $6 for rotating sprinkler nozzles. You can find a complete list of available rebates and programs at

Eco-Friendly Outdoor Designs

Eco-Friendly Outdoor Designs.jpg

Many of the most in-demand backyard remodeling projects can actually help you save water

  • Expanding hardscapes to replace expanses of lawn gives you less grass to water while opening up additional possibilities for recreation. For example, adding or increasing the size of a paving stone patio gives you new opportunities to build the ultimate outdoor entertaining space. You could add a pergola to shade a comfortable outdoor seating area. Or perhaps this is your chance to get the outdoor kitchen of your dreams, complete with a wine fridge, pizza oven, and fire-pit dining table. Are you a workout buff? Consider an outdoor gym with storage space for gear and plenty of room to sprint, stretch and lift. The possibilities are endless.
  • In Los Angeles, adding a swimming pool can increase your home’s resale value by about $95,000. Although it takes between 18,000 and 20,000 gallons to fill the average swimming pool, there are a few things you can do to save water. As mentioned earlier, having existing structures tested for leaks is an important first step. Meanwhile, using a pool cover when you’re not swimming can save thousands of gallons every year. Not only does it keep out leaves and insects — thus reducing the amount of waste that needs to be cleaned out — but it prevents evaporation.

At GreatBuildz, we are proud to partner with a robust network of licensed general contractors with expertise in backyard remodels and eco-friendly home improvement projects. Call us today to start planning.

When it comes to finding the best eco-friendly backyard remodeling contractor in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.


Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information:

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

How can we help with your project?

Explore More Remodeling Topics

Remodeling Cost Guides

Cost Guides

design ideas

Design Ideas

Finding a Contractor

Finding a Contractor

Picking Materials

Selecting Materials

remodeling advice

Remodeling Advice