WRD Eco Gardener Program


Make your beautiful garden the envy of your neighbors while simultaneously saving water and creating a productive ecosystem in your backyard! The Lillian Kawasaki Eco Gardener Program teaches homeowners about the multiple benefits of planting a sustainable garden through a series of in-person classes. Whether you attend one or all of them, you are certain to walk away with knowledge about sustainable garden design concepts as well as plant and material selections for creating an attractive, water efficient garden. All classes are FREE.

The Eco Gardener program educates residents on four popular topics: sustainable landscape design, drought-tolerant plants, edible gardening, and irrigation basics. For a brief introduction into all four topics at once, try our Water Efficient Gardening class. See descriptions of each class below, then click the sign-up button when you are ready to register! If you’d like to sign up for our mailing list or are interested in hosting a workshop in your community, please use the sign up bottom to contact us.



To protect public health, WRD has postponed in person Eco-Gardener Classes until further notice.

Instead, we are offering virtual classes! We have both on-demand and 'live' webinar options. The on-demand classes are accessible anytime using the link you get when you RSVP. The live webinar classes have a set date and time, and are led my an instructor who can answer your questions. Please see the dates and times for upcoming classes below and click the link to RSVP. There are course descriptions for each class further down on this page. If there are no upcoming classes, you can sign up for the mailing list. Thank you and see you online!

  • Tues, Feb 22 | 6pm - 7pm | Sustainable Landscape Design | RSVP

  • Thurs, Feb 24 | 6pm - 7pm | NEW! Easy Steps to Lawn Conversion | RSVP

  • Tues, Mar 8 | 6pm - 7pm | Edible Gardening | RSVP

  • Thurs, Mar 10 | 6pm - 7pm | NEW! Composting for a Healthy Garden | RSVP

  • Tues, Mar 15 | 6pm - 7pm | Leak Detection Class | RSVP


This spring, we are offering two new classes!

Easy Steps to Lawn Conversion: Lawn conversion, also known as "turf removal," is the practice of removing high-water-use grass and replacing it with low-water-use landscaping. It is a great way to lower the costs of your water bill while creating a vibrant ecosystem in your yard! This class will cover the process of removing turf step by step and how to design a new sustainable garden.

Composting for a Healthy Garden: Learn how to recycle your indoor and outdoor green "organic" waste and turn it into a rich, high-nutrient soil amendment. By composting, we are returning nutrients back in the soil, improving its structure and moisture retention, and increasing beneficial organisms. Plants and crops will grow stronger and healthier than ever before! It's also an easy and enjoyable activity.


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These virtual, on-demand classes will teach audiences about sustainable gardening through three topic areas. Sign up today to receive a link to the class that you can use at your convenience from the comfort of your home.


Sign Up for an On-Demand Class


Ready to make a change but not sure where to start? Take a look at these water-saving How-To videos. They are available in both English and Spanish.

  1. Drip Conversion How-To Video: Learn how to convert your overhead spray irrigation into a drip irrigation system. 

  2. Installing a Smart Irrigation Controller How-To Video: Learn how to switch out your controller for a smart controller that responds to  your unique landscape features and even the weather forecast. 

  3. How to Isolate a Water Leak How-To Video: Learn how to use your water meter to look for leaks inside and outdoors.

  4. How to Replace a Toilet Flapper How-To Video: Learn how to replace the flapper in your toilet tank.






Leak Detection Class

Irrigation leaks just the size of a dime will waste nearly 6,300 gallons of water per month. Inefficient toilets can waste up to 13,000 gallons per year. The Eco Gardener Leak Detection virtual class will help participants identify and fix water leaks, leading to the conservation of thousands of gallons of water, savings on your water bill, and protection from water damage in your home and garden. With the proper training and tools, leaks can be fixed before they become a costly issue!



Sustainable Landscape Design

Look to nature for the answer! This class explores the philosophy of natural watershed design which uses minimal resources while increasing the aesthetics, and possibly the value, of your property. 

Participants learn how to conduct a thorough site analysis using the principles of planting design and assessing different materials available for use. Visual examples of design styles using various spaces, color schemes and levels of hardscape are shown throughout. An overview of plant selections including drought-tolerant plants and California native plants prepare you to make your backyard a water-saving sanctuary.



Edible Gardening

Turn part of your ordinary landscape into a lush edible garden. Use your water in a way that will benefit you and your family while creating a sustainable environment that you can be proud of.

This workshop shares tips on how to analyze and enhance your soil, as well as how to maximize the productivity of your garden through planning, design, composting and localized irrigation. Learn the fundamentals of propagation and pruning while understanding how to identify and address pest issues. It’s easy to select the right “crop” of fruits, herbs and veggies for your needs, all while having fun in the garden!



Drought Tolerant Plants

With an average of only 14” of rainfall per year in the LA area, it doesn’t make sense to have gardens that require daily watering. Planting a drought-tolerant garden can alleviate the high demand on our precious water resources while saving you money! With many options to choose from, it’s easy to get creative with your eco-friendly garden.

Before diving into the needs and benefits of drought-tolerant plants and California native plants, this workshop examines planting and pruning fundamentals including plant nomenclature (naming), sizing and spacing, growing habits, root systems, pests and diseases, and maintenance considerations. Visual examples of various trees, shrubs and ground covers that are readily available in California and well-suited for the region will assist homeowners in confidently making plant selections for their water-wise landscape.


Irrigation Basics

Imagine 50% of all the drinking water from the faucets at home that you pay for being thrown outside—you couldn’t use it to shower, clean, cook or stay hydrated. That’s exactly what we do here in Southern California in efforts to keep our yards looking lush, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Learn how to get the most out of your irrigation system so that we can conserve water, live more sustainably, and save money while we’re at it.

This workshop will familiarize participants with the components and the layout of a residential irrigation system while teaching them about the installation and maintenance of an efficient, well-managed irrigation system. Troubleshooting the most common irrigation problems that occur will also be covered, leaving homeowners ready to tackle many maintenance issues that may arise.



Water Efficient Gardening

Looking to take it all in on one day? This workshop combines the pertinent information from the four popular topics into one 4-hour workshop. Participants will get a basic understanding of how to approach sustainable landscape design and optimize their soils, as well as the value of water management techniques through smart plant selection and efficient irrigation. Taken together these pillars turn your yard into a beautiful, water-smart landscape and a productive ecosystem.




Winter Gardening

In coastal Southern California, we are lucky to garden yearround. For native plants in the region, the wet winter months is like their springtime! 

This class helps participants make a plan for winter gardening and leaves plenty of time for questions from the audience. From pruning and modified watering schedules, to planting your new CA native plants, we'll teach you how to put the winter months to good use!





From Pilot Program to Community Program

Recognizing the need for effective water conservation education well before the recent 5-year drought, WRD initiated a pilot of the Eco Gardener Program at a local junior college in the fall of 2006. Now in its thirteenth year, thousands of participants have been trained throughout WRD’s 420 square mile service area as hundreds of participants attend the program annually. 

Due to the pilot’s success, more classes were added each year and by teaming up with community partners such as cities, private utilities, and non-profit organizations; the courses became locally-tailored and more relevant. This collaborative approach, combined with always keeping the program free of charge, has resulted in the Eco Gardener Program being an effective tool for reaching populous, under-served, and environmentally-strained communities that may lack access to these types of educational opportunities. 

The Eco Gardener Program even inspired what became the Lillian Kawasaki Demonstration Gardens at the WRD headquarters in Lakewood and the WRD Albert Robles Center for Water Recycling & Environmental Learning (ARC) in the City of Pico Rivera. For both demonstration gardens, the principles from the Eco Gardener classes have been employed to produce a landscape that is both aesthetically balanced and water efficient, all while using minimal resources. 


Lillian Kawasaki was born in Denver, CO on September 17, 1950, the oldest of three children. Her love for public service was inspired by her father who joined the Army after his release from the Manzanar Internment Camp because, in his words, “it was the right thing to do.” Lillian would later become a co-founder for the Friends of Manzanar, a volunteer organization that supports the Manzanar National Historic Site.

Ms. Kawasaki was the first Asian American department appointee for the City of Los Angeles where she headed the Department of Environmental Affairs and spearheaded major initiatives to protect air and water for the City’s four million residents.  She would later serve as General Manager of the City’s Community Development Department. Appointed by the California Governor and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Lillian was also a member of the California Bay-Delta Public Advisory Committee (BDPAC).

Upon retiring, Lillian remained active in water issues and was elected in November 2006 to represent Division 3 on the Board of Directors at the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. Division 3 serves the cities of Long Beach, Cerritos, Lakewood, Signal Hill, Artesia, La Mirada and Hawaiian Gardens. Ms. Kawasaki also served on the Long Beach Water Commission. 

During her tenure at WRD, Lillian initiated the Eco Gardener program to promote water awareness and educate people about sustainability practices. She held the program close to her heart and the WRD Board of Directors honored her for her commitment and dedication to public service by naming the Eco Gardener Program, as well as the facility demonstration gardens after her. 

Lillian passed away in 2013 at her home in Long Beach, and will be remembered for her lifelong commitment and dedication to public service.

Classes from 2022 are shown here.



  • Wed, Jan 19 | 6pm - 7pm | Winter Gardening | RSVP

Classes from 2021 are shown here.

- Wed, Jan 20th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Winter Gardening 

- Tues, Feb 23rd | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening

 - Thurs, Feb 25th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants

- Tues, Mar 9th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Sustainable Landscape Design

- Thurs, Mar 11th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Irrigation Basics

Tues, Mar 23rd | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening 

Thurs, Mar 25th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants 

- Tues, Apr 6th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Sustainable Landscape Design

- Thurs, Apr 8th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Irrigation Basics

- Tues, Apr 27th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening 

- Thurs, Apr 29th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants 

- Tues, May 18th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Sustainable Landscape Design

- Thurs, May 20th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Irrigation Basics

- Tues, Jun 1st | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening 

- Thurs, Jun 3rd | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants 

- NEW CLASS! Wed, Jun 9th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Water 101: The California Water Picture

- NEW CLASS! Wed, Jun 16th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Water 101: Sustainable Water in Southern LA County

- Tues, Oct 12 | 6pm – 7pm | Sustainable Landscape Design | RSVP

- Thurs, Oct 14 | 6pm – 7pm | Edible Gardening | RSVP

- Tues, Oct 26 | 6pm – 7pm | Drought Tolerant Plants | RSVP

- Thurs, Oct 28 | 6pm – 7pm | Irrigation Basics | RSVP

- Tues, Nov 16 | 6pm - 7pm | Sustainable Landscape Design | RSVP

- Thurs, Nov 18 | 6pm -7pm | Edible Gardening | RSVP

- Tues, Nov 30 | 6pm – 7pm | Drought Tolerant Plants | RSVP  

- Thurs, Dec 2 | 6pm – 7pm | Irrigation Basics | RSVP 

Classes from 2020 are shown here. Note that many were postponed due to Covid-19 stay at home order.

- Sat, Jan 18th, 2020 | Whittier Public Library | 10am - 1pm | Sustainable Lanscape Design

- Sat, Feb 15th, 2020 | WRD Albert Robles Center | 9am - 12pm | Sustainable Landscape Design

- Sat, Mar 7th, 2020 | Rancho Los Cerritos | 1:30pm - 4:30pm | Sustainable Landscape Design

- POSTPONED Sat, Mar 21st, 2020 | Rancho Los Cerritos | 1:30pm - 4:30pm | Edible Gardening

- POSTPONED Sat Mar 28th, 2020 | Maywood Rio Vista YMCA | 9am - 12pm | Sustainable Landscape Design

- POSTPONED Sat, Apr 4th, 2020 | Rancho Los Cerritos | 1:30pm - 4:30pm | Drought-Tolerant Plants

- POSTPONED Mon, Apr 20th, 2020 | Cerritos Senior Center | 10am - 12pm | Sustainable Landscape Design

- POSTPONED Sat Apr 25th, 2020 | Maywood Rio Vista YMCA | 9am - 12pm | Edible Gardening 

- POSTPONED Mon, May 4th, 2020 | Cerritos Senior Center | 10am - 12pm | Drought-Tolerant Plants

- POSTPONED Sat May 30th, 2020 | Maywood Rio Vista YMCA | 9am - 12pm | Irrigation Basics

- POSTPONED Mon, Jun 1st, 2020 | Cerritos Senior Center | 10am - 12pm | Irrigation Basics

- Tues, Aug 18th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Sustainable Landscape Design 

- Thurs, Aug 20th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening 

Tues, Sept 1st | 5pm – 6pm | Live Webinar | Irrigation Basics 

Thurs, Sept 3rd | 5pm – 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants 

Tues, Oct 6th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Sustainable Landscape Design 

Thurs, Oct 8th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Edible Gardening 

- Tues, Oct 27th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Irrigation Basics

- Thurs, Oct 29th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Drought-Tolerant Plants

- Wed, Dec 9th | 5pm - 6pm | Live Webinar | Winter Gardening 

Eco Gardener Classes are offered throughout the WRD service area, check out the list of this year's classes! If you are interested in hosting a class in your community contact Jenn Swart: | (562) 275-4265