Water-Conserving Gardens: A User’s Manual

CSBE Team, 2004

Download the full English-language manual
(PDF file, file size is 3,946 KB)

Download the full Arabic-language manual
(PDF file, full size 16.5 MB)

This manual, which is authored by the Center for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE), is part of the CSBE project on water-conserving landscapes.  The project is funded by WEPIA (Water Efficiency and Public Information for Action), a program being implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


People often assume that a low-water using landscape has to be barren and dry, and that it is characterized by a predominance of rocks and cacti.  This could not be further from the truth.  Through a series of practices related to water conserving landscapes you can create attractive and sustainable gardens that are lush and colorful, and that also save water and money.  Such practices include using drought tolerant plants, incorporating hardscaped surfaces, taking advantage of rainwater harvesting, as well as following specific maintenance techniques when caring for your plants. 

This manual introduces the various possibilities of water-conserving gardening, and will prove useful whether your garden is small or large, and whether you are creating a new garden or upgrading an existing one.  The manual is divided into seven chapters, each illustrating one of the principles associated with water-conserving landscapes.  In each chapter, you will find clear ideas and easy to follow guidelines that will help you create a beautiful, water-conserving garden.  This manual also includes references to both printed and web-based resources for those who would like to get more in-depth knowledge about the subjects covered in its various chapters.

To download any chapter of the English-language manual, please click on the title of the chapter in the manual's table of contents below.


Table of contents

Chapter 1: Planning and designing your water-conserving garden (PDF file, file size is 735 KB)

I.   Designing a water-conserving landscape

II.  Identifying the main water-use zones in a garden

III. Creating microclimates

IV. Renovating an existing landscape

V.  General considerations

Chapter 2: Creating paved areas in your garden(PDF file, file size is 769 KB)

I.   Why create paved areas?

II.  Paving materials that are readily available in Jordan

III. Joints between tiles

IV. General considerations

Chapter 3: Harvesting rainwater for landscape use (PDF file, file size is 501 KB)

I.   Why harvest rainwater?

II.  Creating a rainwater harvesting system

III. Types of rainwater harvesting systems

IV. Components of a rainwater harvesting system

V.  General considerations

Chapter 4: Selecting plants for your water-conserving garden (PDF file, file size is 587 KB)

I.    Major functions of plant materials

II.   Appropriate plant selection

III.  Native plants

IV.  Safety considerations

V.   Selecting plants at the nursery

VI.  Planting in containers

VII. Design tips for plant placement

Chapter 5: Irrigating your water-conserving garden (PDF file, file size is 291 KB)

I.   How much water does a plant need?

II.  Types of irrigation systems

III. General considerations for the creation of an effective irrigation system

Chapter 6:  Mulches (PDF file, file size is 143 KB)

I.   Why is mulching important?

II.  Types of mulch

III. Selecting a mulch

IV. Application of mulch

Chapter 7: Maintaining your water-conserving garden (PDF file, file size 315 KB)

I.   Maintenance in a water-conserving landscape

II.  Using fertilizers

III. Pruning

IV. Weeding and weed control

V.  Insect and disease control

VI. Water-saving maintenance practices

Appendices (PDF file, file size is 230 KB)

Appendix A: High water-use plant table

Appendix B: Tree selection table

Appendix C: Ornamental selection table

Appendix D: Native selection table

Glossary (PDF file, file size is 62 KB)

References (PDF file, file size is 95 KB)