Type of Plants

The Calculator uses a simple classification system that groups plants into low, moderate, and high water use categories. These categories were developed by the University of California Cooperative Extension as a part of the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species (WUCOLS) project in 1992. During the project, more than 1100 plant species were assigned water-use ratings by landscape professionals.

Using this classification system, the Landscape Watering Calculator assigns a number to each plant type which you select to customize your Watering Schedule. If you select "low water-use plants" on the Calculator form then the total number of minutes you water will be less than if you select "high water-use plants".

The amount of water your plants will need also varies depending on how well established the plants are. For example, low water-use plants from the Coastal Sage Scrub areas of Santa Barbara thrive on natural rainfall after becoming established (one to three years). Many trees also do not need regular watering after they are several years old.

Most lawn grasses are classified as either warm or cool season. Warm season grasses grow most actively in the warm summer months, and in the winter they may turn brown. Cool season grasses stay green all year in Santa Barbara and prefer moderate temperatures.

Lawns require more water than any other landscape plant, but their water needs change throughout the year. Skip watering days whenever possible, and re-program your controller every month. When lawns are first planted, using seed or sod, be sure to keep the soil moist to encourage root growth. Spring and Fall are the best times to install new lawns in Santa Barbara.