WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest

2013 Winner
2013 Contest Winner

Do you have a beautiful, WaterWise landscape?  

The 2020 annual WaterWise Garden Recognition Contest celebrates residents of Santa Barbara County who are committed to maintaining attractive, water wise landscapes. The best looking and most water efficient landscapes in our region are recognized, and serve as an example of what is possible when we design our landscapes to better use our most precious natural resource, water.

Who can win? A WaterWise Garden Award will be given to a residential property in each participating water provider's service area. Each participating water provider will determine its own winner using the judging criteria. Each water provider will then submit its regional winner to compete for the County-wide Grand Prize.

Participating Water Providers          

  • Carpinteria Valley Water District
  • City of Santa Barbara  
  • Montecito Water District
  • Vandengerg Village CSD 

Get Ideas from Past Winners


Contest Rules

  • Participants must be residential customers of a participating water provider in Santa Barbara County. See the list at the bottom of the page.
  • The contest is for front yards only.
  • A homeowner or renter can apply.
  • Applicants must submit digital photos of their existing landscape. Photos and the application must be submitted online using the file upload widget below.
  • Each water provider will have its own winner. Winning landscapes for each water provider will compete for the County-wide grand prize.
  • Prizes are TBD.
  • Each winning property will be given a yard sign to post prominently in the front yard for a minimum of one year.
  • Many aspects of your landscape will be evaluated. See judging criteria below.
  • Applicant must be present during the site visit and judges will need access to turn on your irrigation controller.

Judging Criteria

  • Overall appearance: Is the landscape visually appealing? Does it have color and texture to it? Does landscape appear cohesive &/or balanced? Do living plants predominate over hardscape?
  • WaterWise plant selection: Are the plants appropriate for our semi-arid climate? Will the landscape thrive in our region with minimal watering? Is turf kept to a minimum/functional space? Are there native species?  Are there invasive species?
  • Design: Is the landscape design creative and/or innovative, keeping in mind water conservation and landscape function? Are watering zones correctly used?
  • Garden 01Efficient methods of irrigation: Is yard irrigated or hand watered?  Does the irrigation system use a smart controller, drip, rotating nozzles, rain sensor, or other water efficient devices? Is the irrigation schedule set correctly for the plants and season? How is irrigation adjusted seasonally? Is mulching sufficient and appropriate? Are there signs of overspray, etc.? Is water pressure correct?
  • Bonus: Does the property maintain any other low water use elements or sustainable qualities that deserve additional recognition? Is there a greywater system installed? Is there water catchment or other Low Impact Design (LID) features? Is there habitat for wildlife or beneficial insects? Is permeable hardscape used?  

Contest Application

2020 Garden Recognition Contest Application 

File Upload


Questions about the contest can be directed to the Santa Barbara County Water Agency at 805-568-3440 or