Landscape Landscape
Irrigation - Design
The design of your irrigation system is the most technically complex part of any landscape or garden. For owners and landscape professionals alike, the recommendations below tell you how to comply with the City Standards.

Low Water Use



  • To keep your system consistent and manageable, it is recommended to use one type of sprinkler head throughout.
  • Keep sprinklers, drip irrigation and bubblers on separate valves. Mixing flow rates effects uniformity.

Pressure and Valves

  • Acceptable Low Flow Valves, Filters and Pressure Regulators pdf(1)
  • Pressure regulation is important to insure that the dynamic pressure at each emission device is within the manufacturer’s recommended pressure range for optimal performance. Pressure regulation may include a single master filter and/or master pressure regulator may be used for the entire system, located after the backflow device and/or master valve. In this case, if the system does not include a master valve, heavy-duty grade filters and pressure regulators that can tolerate constant pressurization must be used.
  • Spray heads with or without multi-stream, multi-trajectory rotating nozzles, must have built-in  pressure regulation in the body or stem or pressure regulating swing joints. All sprayhead bodies should have pressure regulation in the actual sprayhead itself.
  • Low head drainage is prohibited. Use anti-drain valves or check valves in sprinkler heads and drip emitter devices where necessary, like at the base of a slope.
  • Put a manual shut-off valve (such as a gate valve, ball valve, or butterfly valve) as close as possible to the point of connection of the water supply, to minimize water loss in case of an emergency (such as a main line break) or for routine repair.
  • Make sure you have sort of backflow prevention device on your irrigation system to prevent water from the irrigation system contaminating the domestic water supply.
Rotary nozzle

Manual shut-off
Manual shut-off valve

Depth and Spacing

Determining proper depth

Drip Irrigation and Bubblers

  • Drip irrigation is required for all plants one-gallon or larger in size, with the exception of trees. Use drip systems with emitters that do not exceed 2 gph.
  • Drip irrigation valve assemblies should have A BACKFLOW PREVENTION DEVICE, A FILTER with a 150 – 200 mesh and a wye or tee filter with a stainless steel screen, AND A PRESSURE REGULATOR.
  • For backflow prevention devices use an anti-siphon valve or some other master backflow protection device, like a pressure vacuum breaker or reduced pressure zone device.
  • In-line remote control valves can only be used if there is a master backflow prevention device at the Point of Connection.
  • A master pressure regulator, and a master filter may be used at the point of connection in lieu of regulators and filters at every valve assembly.
  • Multi-outlet drip emitters are prohibited;  ¼ inch or 1/8 inch tubing is only permitted on container Plantings and Raised Plant Beds.
  • When specifying bubblers for trees remember that bubblers emitting 0.5 gallons per minute or less may be used for 24" box trees and they must be on a separate valve.
Drip-tubing with stakes
In-line valves

Water Features, Fountains, Ponds

  • When designing fountains, ponds or other decorative water features in the landscaped area, excluding swimming pools or spas, keep the total cumulative exposed water surface area to 25 square feet, specify a water recirculation system and make sure all water sprayed into the air from allowed water features remains within the water feature.

Hand Watering

  • Landscape areas may be watered by hand, manual or automatic irrigation systems. Permanent irrigation systems are not required. But when hand watering, make sure your hoses are equipped with an automated, shut off nozzle and a hose bibb vacuum breaker.

Hand watering
Last updated: Thursday, 12/10/2015


City of Santa Monica © 2016

Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment
1685 Main St., Santa Monica, CA 90401 · (310) 458-2213 · TTY (310) 917-6626