“If you want to know the value of water, try not having any.”

Bobby Markowitz, ASLA, President/CEO Earthcraft Landscape Design, Soquel, CA

Landscape Design with Water in Mind -

Plant Selection and Design

Instructor: Sarah Sutton

Planting design for a dry landscape, with little to no municipal water for irrigation, is much more than simply choosing “low water” plants. With increasingly shrinking water supplies now and in the future, we need to think like Mother Nature when selecting, installing and establishing plants. 

In this course, landscape architect Sarah Sutton will share the skills, knowledge and resources gained from her years of experience, including stream and habitat restoration, combined with inspiration and techniques to adapt this novel approach to create visually pleasing, low maintenance residential, commercial and civic landscapes.

Topics include: 

  • Revisiting the Site Analysis – Keys to Success
  • Protecting and Enhancing our Urban Forests
  • Navigating MWELO: It is the law, is here to stay, and it will only get more restrictive
  • Addressing Firescaping within Increasing Drought Restrictions 
  • Planting for Rain Gardens, Greywater, and other Alternative Water Sources
  • How to Plant and Care for California Native Plants 
  • And last but not least, Creating Viable Habitat within our Landscapes to Knit Increasingly Fragile Ecosystems Together 

With tighter water restrictions looming, and many jurisdictions already denying any water for irrigation in 2022, this information is vital to our landscapes and our businesses. Sign up today for this innovative and timely course.  

APLD and ReScape CEUs are pending.

Who this course is for

We have created content suitable for:

  • Landscape designers and landscape architects
  • Design-build contractors
  • Students in the landscape professions
  • Property and account managers who oversee landscapes
  • Architects/engineers who want to know more about water-conserving landscape approaches 

Who this course is not for

Homeowners and those who are not designers or maintainers of landscapes

Sarah Sutton headshot

Hi, I'm Sarah Sutton!

I loved climbing trees as a child and sitting amidst the leaves watching the birds and other wildlife around me. This love of nature (and art) drew me to the profession of Landscape Architecture.

I feel fortunate to have been able to practice in a variety of settings throughout my 40-year career, from public and private sector parks, streetscapes, housing and commercial developments to open space planning, trail design and habitat restoration. My focus has always been through the lens of regenerative practices, striving to leave the Earth and her flora and fauna in a healthier state. 

In addition to practicing as a Principal Landscape Architect for several Bay Area firms, I’ve enjoyed teaching planting and neighborhood design courses for UC Berkeley Extension’s Landscape Architecture program and Planning and Design for Riparian Corridors for UC Davis Extension for many years. 

My award-winning book - The New American Front Yard: Kiss Your Grass Goodbye - draws from my experiences and is a richly-illustrated guide to transforming lawn-centric front yards and communities to beautiful, eco-friendly, low maintenance gardens that conserve water, protect our watersheds, sequester carbon, conserve water and energy and enhance habitat values.

Are You Ready to Up Your Game


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Launch Your Skills into Orbit

Tech Note: These courses are best taken on desktop or laptop computers. There is an iOS app available, but images may not all be visible.

Course Curriculum

  I. Introduction and Welcome
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  II. Revisiting the Site Analysis
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  III. Planting Design Strategies
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  IV. Plant Selection: Resources and Criteria
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  V. Installation and Maintenance
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  VI. Course Wrap-Up
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  Zoom Meeting Recordings
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Register Now

On-demand course available for registration now.

You'll have ongoing access to the course.


Here's What People are Saying about Sarah

Sarah brings to her teaching a unique combination of artistic talent, decades of professional experience as a licensed Landscape Architect, and a deep commitment to honoring the earth and its resources.

As a student in her Planting Design class at UC Berkeley Extension, I appreciated her generous teaching style as she shared her insights on design aesthetics and artistry in the landscape. These concepts were always grounded with the realities of technical constraints and environmental sustainability.

Years later, as a Licensed Landscape Architect myself, I regularly refer to her book The New American Front Yard – Kiss Your Grass Goodbye. It provides a simple, step-by-step guide to creating beautiful and responsible home landscapes and is an invaluable resource to professionals and home gardeners alike.

Vanessa Lintores, Associate Landscape Architect, City of San Jose

I have known Sarah since the mid 1990s. She is authentic, enthusiastic, passionate, and one of the most knowledgeable colleagues I have worked with over my 30-year career in Landscape Architecture. Extremely creative and a wonderful artist, Sarah expresses her ideas and teachings using many forms of communication. I am very excited for anyone who takes her course or the combination of courses, as you will learn a lot! 

Chris Kukula, Landscape Architect, Certified Arborist

Banner photo of water-efficient garden courtesy of JeniWebber.com