Landscape Design

You've decided to change out your thirsty plantings for a more water wise and more beautiful landscape. Fantastic! Where do you begin?

At the Waterwise Community Center we have a Landscape Design Room with resources to inspire you, open during normal business ours, Monday - Saturday, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

If you are serious about taking on a low-water landscape project and are a resident of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, or Fontana, you are in luck!  We have a landscape design assistance program where participants can work with an experienced CBWCD staff member who will create a custom landscape design for your project at no cost!  See below for full details:

Design room

Residential Landscape Design Assistance Program

Through a collaboration between Chino Basin Water Conservation District, Inland Empire Utility Agency, and your local water provider, we are able to offer landscape design services free of charge!  Read below to learn more:

All landscape design appointments are held at the Water Conservation Center at 4594 San Bernardino St, Montclair. Appointments are available for all residential properties in the cities of Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Montclair, Ontario, Chino, Chino Hills, and Fontana.

Before you request your appointment, here are the things to keep in mind.  Please read this entire list:

  • The program requires a $50 deposit for participation, fully refundable if the landscape project is significantly completed within 6 months receiving the completed design documents.  See below for details.
  • Due to high demand, appointments must be made with at least two weeks notice.
  • Due to program demand, we can provide an appointment and design for EITHER a front yard OR a back yard, but not both. If you complete the first project, we are very happy to schedule another appointment with you for the other part of your property.
  • After making an appointment, participants must send multiple digital images of their project area to .  Images must be received at least one week prior to the appointment so staff can review images and prepare for the appointment.
  • An experienced Chino Basin Water Conservation District staff member will consult with participants for approximately 1.5 hours.
  • Participants are asked to bring a list of ideas or pictures of plants or landscapes they like.  We highly encourage you to spend some time looking at our Inland Valley Garden Planner website,  Check out plants and garden styles you might want to use in your garden, print them out or write them down, and bring those ideas to the consultation to get the process off to a good start!
  • Before the appointment, think about your budget for your landscape project.  Will you be doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor?  Are you replacing plants only or do you plan to install new walks, patios, etc? Do you think you will need a new irrigation system?  We cannot tell you how much your project will cost because that depends on many factors beyond the scope of this program, but if we have an idea of your budget, we can help advise to try to provide a reasonable design that will work for what you hope to spend.
  • At the appointment, participants will discuss goals for the landscape and then work with us as we create a computer generated design and rendering of the landscape project.  Participants will use this rendering and a plant identification key as a design guide for installing plants and materials into the new landscape.
  • After the consultation meeting, CBWCD staff will finish the design rendering, create a plant identification key and a custom plant list with the names and information about each plant selected for the designed landscape.  Participants will be mailed these documents either electronically or physically depending on the clients' preferences upon confirmation from IEUA that deposit checks have cleared.  Participants should receive their document package within approximately two weeks of the consultation appointment.
  • Clients will be provided with a list of resources including sources of plants and other landscape materials.
  • We cannot tell the client exactly how many plants they would require, but will provide the link to a free downloadable guide that teaches those who wish how to create an accurate scaled drawing of their landscape which will allow participants to use their design rendering to get exact plant counts.  Alternatively, participants hiring a contractor can have the contractor determine the exact number of plants needed.
  • This program focuses on landscape design.  If you have questions about your irrigation system, learn more about our Landscape Evaluation/Audit Program here
  • After lots of appointments, we have found that appointments are most productive when children are not in the design room during the consultation.  Supervised children are always welcome at Water Conservation Center, but if possible, please arrange to have another adult supervise children in the garden or elsewhere at the Water Conservation Center.  If this is not possible, please arrange to provide some other sort of independent activity for children who will be present at the design consultation so the adult(s) can focus on consultation process.
  • We cannot provide appointments for landscape contractors, designers, etc. (unless it is for your own house).
  • $50 refundable deposit details: Due to the significant cost to the providers of this free service, we need to ensure participants are serious about taking on their landscaping project.  Requiring a fully refundable deposit has been shown to be an effective way to accomplish this.  Checks are to be made out to "IEUA" and brought to the appointment.  Checks will be deposited by the Inland Empire Utility Agency.  Program participants must provide clear photographs of their significantly completed project, emailed to within 6 months of the appointment date to be eligible for deposit refund.  Significant completion is defined as turf being removed if turf was present, and over half of the new plants installed.  Upon receipt of proof of significant completion, the Inland Empire Utility Agency will issue a $50 refund check to the person who wrote the deposit check.
  • To request your appointment fill out our online form or call 909-626-2711.  We are happy to answer any additional questions about the program you may have, either at the phone number above or at

Below is an example of the document package we create for participants in the design program:

Starting Photo (Submitted by the participant):

design assistance program example before photo

Design Rendering, created by us working with you.  The more ideas and opinions you bring, the better we can match the design to what you like.  Remember, this is an image of what the landscape would look like when young, so you can see space between each plant and use it as a guide.  As the plants mature, they will cover much more of the open space:

design assistance program design example

Design Rendering with Plant Labels. These labels act as a key you can use to identify each plant with the spreadsheet, below, to know their names, purchase, and learn about each one:

design assistance program design with labelsDesign Key Spreadsheet. We provide this chart to use with the Rendering with Plant Labels, above.  Be sure to follow the links to learn about each plant and to use the listed mature size of each plant to guide your exact placement of each plant before planting:

design assistance program plant key example spreadsheet

We also have resources available during business hours with no appointment:

  • Books and brochures on plants and water wise landscaping for California
  • Visit our Water Wise Demonstration Garden, featuring beautiful low-water landscaping options for inland Southern California home gardens