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SDBG Conservation


SDBG Green


An important goal in the mission of San Diego Botanic Garden is conservation. We strive to conserve rare and endangered plants and their ecosystems and to promote sustainable use of natural resources.

The gardens at San Diego Botanic Garden represent fifteen different regions of the world as well as twelve demonstration gardens. Visitors have the opportunity to explore geographically organized gardens such as Australia, South America, the Canary Islands, Madagascar, Hawaii, Central America, California, and the Mediterranean. Other display gardens include the New World and Old World Desert Gardens, the Underwater Succulent Garden, Mexican Garden, Sub-Tropical Fruit Garden, and Landscape for Fire Safety.

The most important botanical collections are: bamboo, palms, cycads, aloes, and agaves. Many of these species are of conservation concern. In addition there are dozens of other plant species in our collections of conservation significance, including native plants in natural areas that are listed as federally and state endangered and threatened species.

water smart logoLow Water Gardening

Many local landscape plants are more drought tolerant than most people think. Often people water their plants and gardens 30-80% more than they need.

On the other hand, newly planted plants, and especially trees and large shrubs need more water for the first year or two. Most perennials and smaller fast growing shrubs need extra water for 6-8 months, especially in the summer.

For most plants the best time to plant is in the fall or early winter so that roots can establish over our rainy season. Of course, most winters we don’t really get too much rain so additional watering is necessary.

Generally, if you want fast growth initially, water more, but when the plants get larger cut back on the watering. This will restrict future growth and eliminate a lot of unnecessary pruning and trimming.

Download Low Water Plants Take Along List (PDF File, 6 pages, 292 K)


Saving Water A Top Priority

Saving Water A Top Priority at San Diego Botanic Garden

Throughout the Garden, we use a variety of strategies like irrigation, low water sprinklers, weather sensitive controllers, dry streams, and rain gardens to mitigate water use. In addition, we use recycled water in 30% of the gardens on our 37-acre property. In fact, we were one of the first botanical gardens to use this resource and were recognized for our efforts by the WateReuse Association as one of their Recycled Water Irrigation Customers of the Year.

Our horticulture and Garden team members continuously monitor our irrigation equipment to ensure that any leaks are taken care of promptly. Our Rainwater Harvesting Exhibit next to our Seeds of Wonder children’s garden is also providing much needed run-off water from the green roof of our restroom facility. This exhibit was recently added thanks to a generous grant from the Ellen G. and Edward G. Wong Family Foundation.

Saving Water A Top Priority
Ellen G. & Edward G. Wong Family Foundation Funds Rainwater Harvesting Exhibit
Thank you to the Ellen G. & Edward G. Wong Family Foundation who, through a special Director’s Grant, funded our new rainwater harvesting exhibit and accompanying dual language informational signage. This wonderful exhibit and environmentally-friendly educational tool is located in the Eucalyptus Grove next to our Seeds of Wonder children’s garden. The rainwater harvesting exhibit offers the Garden another important opportunity to engage children in environmental stewardship and educate our visitors about the value of this meaningful practice.

Low Water Gardening for Coastal San Diego Article
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Tips on Saving Water in Your Garden
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City of Encintas San Dieguito Water District: Water Conservation
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SDBG Green



Discover ways to adopt a WaterSmart lifestyle!
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Water Smart - A Green Garden

At San Diego Botanic Garden we believe in living “green” and are committed to having a sustainable environment.

The Garden historically developed through the low water plantings of the Larabee family in the 1940s and 1950. As a county park botanical garden from the 1960s through the 1980s there was an emphasis on plants and gardens for our low water Mediterranean-type climate. Original gardens areas focused on the Mediterranean climates of the world, desert gardens, and other plants with low water needs from other areas of the world.The majority of our gardens today feature low water use plants from arid regions of the world.

Water is a precious resource. Conserving water is critical to Southern California and to us. In the new Hamilton Children’s Garden, a water wise garden introduces children to a variety of water saving ideas and technologies, including displays of water smart plants. Throughout the Garden, we use a variety of strategies like irrigation low water sprinklers, weather sensitive controllers, dry streams, and rain gardens. In addition, we use recycled water in 30% of the gardens. We were one of the first botanical gardens to use this resource and were recognized by the WateReuse Association as the 2007 Recycled Water Irrigation Customer of the Year.

Classes on water conservation-related subjects are offered throughout the year. Monthly volunteer tours highlight low water plants and gardens. A number of colleges and universities schedule horticultural and botany classes here. San Diego Botanic Garden has produced four educational gardening videos including two water conservation landscape videos with the San Diego Water Authority.

Here our “green” waste composed of trimmings, dead leaves, and branches is shredded, composted, and reused as mulch to beautify our gardens. Green roofs produce shade, cool buildings, and reduce storm water runoff. We recycle cans, plastic, and paper to reduce the size of landfills. In our newest buildings at the Hamilton Children’s Garden solar panels are used to produce solar energy. Our newer parking lots have permeable paving to avoid runoff.


Native Plant Conservation

Preserving existing natural areas at the San Diego Botanic Garden is very important. The Garden is located in Encinitas, California within a mile of the coast. There are approximately eleven acres of natural areas and restored natural areas in the Garden. The local southern maritime chaparral and coastal sage scrub plant communities are some of the nation’s most endangered vegetation types as they are small in size and restricted to coastal areas. Over the past century these Southern California coastal areas have been in high demand for urban development.

See Endangered Plants

See Native Plants and Native People Trail

Smart Meter
SDG&E Smart Meters and San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego Botanic Garden is a leader in connecting the public to our natural world. We inspire adults and children to play their parts as environmental stewards by providing a beautiful natural setting and helping them understand how they are connected to the plants, animals, and world around us.

Reuse or Recycling Plastic Nursery Containers
Nearby garden centers and nurseries accept plastic nursery containers (especially 4” diameter size or larger) for reuse or recycling, including Sunshine Gardens (662 Encinitas Blvd.), Cordova Gardens (902 Encinitas Blvd.), Anderson’s La Costa Nursery (400 La Costa Ave.), Armstrong Garden Center (701 N. El Camino Real) and The Home Depot (1001 N. El Camino Real).