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A pop-up sprinkler head shooting a stream of water to the right.
Living in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada, our region receives little moisture. This necessitates the use of irrigation to grow plants that are not native to our area. 

While some of our communities are blessed with an ample supply of groundwater, the amount is finite and should not be wasted. 

A good irrigation system delivers the proper amount of water to plants when they need it, minimize losses due to evaporation or run-off, run reliably, and apply water consistently and uniformly.

Our goal on this page is not to tell you what you should be growing, but do keep in mind that plants adapted for dry environments will be more likely to survive in the event of an irrigation problem or future water shut off. 

As a very general rule large uniform areas such as lawns are best watered using sprinklers. Mixed planting areas are usually best watered by drip irrigation. Trees may be watered by filling a basin, drip irrigation, or by using sprinklers that provide water to the area the trees are planted in. 

Please note our program cannot recommend maintenance or installation providers. We may be able to advise you on better irrigation practices for your yard. Contact us at immg@ucanr.edu for more information. 

Hopefully the resources on this page will be helpful!

Irrigation Guidelines

The following resources will help you to plan irrigation in your yard.

Any gardening experience you may have from other areas, especially along the coast, may not apply here. Keep a close eye on your plants and adjust water as needed.

General Irrigation Resources

Turfgrass Irrigation Scheduling

  • How to Irrigate Turfgrass - Irrigation guide from UC ANR
  • Lawn watering guide for California - This UC guide can help you determine your sprinkler output and how many minutes to water your lawn each week.
  • Measuring Distribution Uniformity - Even distribution of water is important in irrgation. Uneven sprinklers require extra water to make up for the dry area. You can measure the DU of your system. This page at UC Davis explains the process and provides some tools. 

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is an efficient way to water mixed plantings, gardens, and other landscape plantings.

A great benefit of drip irrigation to homeowners is its simplicity of installation. The flexible tubing used makes it easy to adapt to any changes or unusual circumstances.

Below are four good resources for learning more about irrigation.

Members of the public learning about drip irrigation from Inyo-Mono Master Gardeners
Members of the public learning about drip irrigation from Inyo-Mono Master Gardeners