Nifty 50 Plants for WaterSmart Landscapes

Nifty 50

Looking for the perfect groundcover? Need to replace a shrub or tree?

The new Nifty 50 brochure has you covered. One of the region’s most popular WaterSmart plant guides, Nifty 50 has been updated and distributed to local water agencies and conservation gardens by the San Diego County Water Authority as part of the agency’s long-running efforts to promote water-use efficiency. It includes 50 plants selected because they are attractive, readily available in retail nurseries, non-invasive and easy to maintain. Highlighted plants typically last for years, fit the scale of residential landscapes and – once established – tolerate drought.

The Nifty 50 brochure was initially released in 2001, and it is periodically updated to reflect changing plant preferences, along with research about their growing patterns. The latest version includes perennials such as French lavender, groundcover such as trailing lantana, and trees such as sweet bay.  The pamphlet also offers tips for reducing the amount of water used on landscapes, whether they are filled with conventional plants or drought-tolerant varieties.  

Copies of the guide – complete with full-color photos of each plant – are free at the Water Authority’s headquarters in Kearny Mesa and at the offices of its 24 member agencies. They also are available at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas and the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon, both of which display several of the highlighted plants. An electronic version of the brochure is available by clicking on the image at the top left. If you'd like a copy mailed to you, please email us at