California Department of Transportation


The Bid Items, Specifications and Standard Plans for Landscape work at Caltrans have been revised to fully implement the "Plain Language" initiative begun back in 2010. While some technical changes were made in this update, the primary focus was to revise the structure of the Landscape specifications so that they implement the following Plain Language concepts:

Four-Part Structure - General, Materials, Construction, Payment

Common materials and labor techniques are covered in introductory "General" sections. This "modular" or "umbrella" approach to building specifications greatly reduces the need to repeat material or labor requirements.

Specification sections that nest under a particular "General" section no longer need to "cross-reference" common requirements in the general section. The materials and labor specified in the general section apply without reference. This reduces the likelihood of broken or incorrect references.

Conditional Language

The old approach to building specifications was to first assemble a specification package from all of the individual SSPs that applied to the contract, and then go through all of the individual SSPs and edit them as required for the specific project need. The new approach to contract specifications is to move as many of the individual SSPs to the Standard Specifications as possible, and to "trigger" their use not by time-consuming editing, but rather by including conditional language that identifies if and when various specification requirements apply. Ideally, a set of contract specifications would require no editing at all. Realistically, some project-specific editing is always going to be required to respond to specific site conditions. Reducing the need to edit SSPs helps streamline project delivery.

While conditional language techniques reduced the total length of the 2013 SSPs, the total number of SSPs actually increased because this revision made each SSP topic specific. Rather than have a single SSP for "Irrigation" we have returned to one SSP per item, so it should now be easier to find the SSP that applies to the material that you are trying to modify.

Eliminate the Need for Full-Compensation Payment Clauses

Full-comp payment clauses in the past were used to identify various materials or labor that were to be considered as included in a specific bid item. In many cases the relationship between the material, labor and associated bid item were neither clear nor intuitive. The structural revisions to Section 20 (Landscape) in this update fully implement the central Plain Language concept that the Bid Item identifies the specifications that apply, and the specifications clearly identify the materials and labor that are included as part of that bid item. Materials and labor formerly included in full-compensation clauses have been moved to the specification that correlates with the bid item that pays for that specific work.

The elimination of full-comp clauses also required renaming several Standard Plans details and Standard Specifications. Details or specifications that had no direct tie to a bid item were renamed so that the bid item, specification and detail all used the same name. For example, the standard detail for Riser Type I was renamed Riser Sprinkler Assembly Type I because the components in this detail are paid for by the Riser Sprinkler Assembly Type I bid item

Finally, clarification of payment and the elimination of full-comp clauses was also facilitated by specifying "assemblies" of components. Prior to 2013, for example, there was a bid item for a pop-up sprinkler, and a full-comp clause that stated that the other required components in the sprinkler assembly were to be included in the price for the pop-up sprinkler. With the 2013 RSS, however, we both specify and pay for a pop-up sprinkler assembly that includes not only the sprinkler, but all the other required components as well.

Reorganized Section 20 from 15 separate sections to 5 simple sections

Reorganized content to eliminate the need for full-comp clauses. This was a change that should have been incorporated as part of the previous 2010 specification conversion.

A number of components now described and paid for as part of assemblies

Blankets and enclosures are now part of Backflow Preventer Assemblies

Transplant Palm Tree now part of Transplant Tree

32 separate bid items for different sprinkler types have been replaced with 3 different Sprinkler Assembly Units (Riser, Pop-up, Tree well)

Flush Valve is now Garden Valve Assembly and includes all of the various part required to flush the water.

Some assemblies now split-up into components

Irrigation Crossover is replaced by Irrigation Conduit that specifies and pays only for the conduit (waterline and valve wires are paid for separately.

Bid item names now match the specification name, and the specification now fully describes the work.

Moved common requirements, materials and labor to “General” sections

Items in General are automatically “full-comped” as overhead into that section, unless there is a bid item for that work.

Work that has a bid item is always paid for by the bid item, if that bid item is included in the contract.

Cleaned up submittals, quality control, and quality assurance language

Deleted Unnecessary cross references

Most cross references are not necessary under the 2010 format, or were handled by moving general requirements to “General” sections at the top of each specification section.



Changes specific spec for willow cuttings to now just cover “cuttings”.

Added cottonwood cuttings to the cuttings specification.

Deleted work plan requirement for willow cuttings. Do all cuttings require a work plan?

Contract Grown Plant Material

Contract grown plant material submittal requirements have been moved from the Standard Specifications to an SSP. If your contract requires the Contractor to contract grow plant material, be sure to include the proper SSP.


Deleted setback requirements for groundcover plants in the groundcover specifications as the setbacks are already covered in the plant list.


Renamed Cultivate to Cultivation in the bid item and the specifications.

Prepare Trench

Deleted the specification and bid item since this is never used. Consistent with deleting Prepare Hole previously.

Iron Sulfate

Modified the specifications to include Iron Sulfate as a soil amendment, but kept the separate bid item for iron sulfate because while soil amendments are paid for by the cubic yard, iron sulfate is paid for by the pound. So, iron sulfate is paid for as iron sulfate, but the other soil amendments are paid for as soil amendment. In the future we will add other soil amendments like gypsum, soil sulfur, etc.

Soil Amendment

Added an SSP that allows the specification of particular soil amendments.

Maintenance of Transplanted Plants and Trees

Maintenance of transplanted plants (PE period for roadway jobs) is now covered globally in SSP 20-3.01C(5). No need for each SSP to include this requirement.

Fertilizer Tablet

Deleted fertilizer tablet bid item and spec. Fertilizer tablets have been replaced by packets.

Fertilizer (Packet)

Renamed bid item and specs to Packet Fertilizer Slow-Release or Control Release Fertilizer

Renamed bid item and spec to Slow-Release Fertilizer. Edited the specification to apply to both.


Previously the pruning specification included a detailed definition of what pruning. We deleted this language because pruning is defined in the ANSI A300 (the standard that we reference)

Transplant Palm Tree

Transplant Palm Tree bid item deleted. This work is now included under the specification and bid item for Transplant Tree.

Turf (Sod)

Turf Sod bid item deleted/renamed to Sod.

Moved specification of seed species from the SSP to the Plant List.

Designers must specify seed species on the plant list.

Root Protector

Deleted the requirement that the galvanized treatment on root protectors be removed before installation.

Extend Plant Establishment Work

Deleted the bid item for Extend Plant Establishment Work. We will recreate the bid item if/when we have specifications to describe this work.


Salvage Irrigation Facilities

Kept Salvage Irrigation Facilities SSP and general bid item. Designer indicates on the spec which items to salvage.

Deleted the specific salvage specs and bid items such as: salvage irrigation controller, salvage remote control valve, and salvage sprinkler.

Relocate Irrigation Facilities

Deleted general relocate irrigation facilities specification (because we want to just specify the few items that are relocated) and bid item, but kept specifications and bid items for relocate irrigation controller, relocate backflow preventer assembly, relocate water meter.

Deleted bid item and specifications for relocate existing sprinklers, relocate remote control valve, and relocate water meter.

Relocate Backflow Preventer

Now renamed to Relocate Backflow Preventer Assembly

Remote Control Valves

Gave the Contractor the option of selecting side/bottom/top connection between pipes and valve.

Deleted SSP that has the designer choose. Why not give the Contractor the choice?

Water Meter SSP

Cleaned up this SSP. This is a good example of the scope of the changes made in the July 2010 RSS.

Backflow Preventer Assembly (BPA)

This assembly now includes the blanket, backflow enclosure, and concrete pad as part of the assembly. We retained the bid item for backflow preventer blanket for situations where a designer wants to only specify a blanket.

Pipe from water meter to BPA (formerly paid for as BPA) is to now be paid for as all of the other pipe on the project. Pipe is pipe.

Irrigation Crossover

“Irrigation Crossover” assembly specification and bid item deleted. This work is replaced with Irrigation Conduit. Irrigation Conduit is now paid for by new bid Items for the various types of Irrigation Conduit. The Irrigation Conduit bid item only pays for the conduit. The waterline inside the conduit is paid for as Irrigation Supply Line. The control and neutral conductors (valve wiring) and conduit are paid for as Control and Neutral Conductors.

Extend Irrigation Crossover

Deleted. This work is now included or covered under regular Irrigation Crossover work – i.e. Irrigation Conduit.

Bituminous Coated Conduit

Deleted bid items and option to specify Bituminous Coated Steel Pipe Conduit. Bit coated steel pipe conduit is no longer allowed.

Galvanized Steel Pipe Conduit

Deleted bid items and option to specify Galvanized Steel Pipe Conduit. Replaced with new and existing bid items for Welded Steel Pipe Conduit

Irrigation Sleeve

Deleted bid item and specification for irrigation sleeve. If you want an irrigation sleeve, specify irrigation conduit. Irrigation conduit specification was modified so that it works the same as the old sleeve specification (it is not required to be pressure checked).

Sprinkler (Type A-XX)

Bid items for various types of sprinklers deleted (208459 – 208535). These bid items have been replaced by Riser Sprinkler Assembly, Pop-Up Sprinkler Assembly and Tree Well Sprinkler Assembly.

Riser Sprinkler Assembly

New Bid item for riser sprinkler assembly.

Pop-up Sprinkler Assembly

New Bid item for pop-up sprinkler assembly.

Tree Well Sprinkler Assembly

New bid item and SSP.

Added detail to Standard Plans (old C-2 modified)

Maintain Existing Irrigation Facilities

Renamed/new bid item Operate Existing Irrigation Facilities to better describe the work.

Modify Irrigation System

Deleted this item. There are no specifications for this work so this item was deleted. Other modification work is described and paid for as part of the Check and Test specification bid item.

Recycled Water Warning Signs

Deleted bid item for Recycled Water Warning Signs. Specifications for these signs were moved to Irrigation “General” so the labor and materials for these signs is part of the overhead cost for irrigation.

Control and Neutral Conductors

Added a new separate bid item and specification for Armor-Clad Conductors.

Control and Neutral Conductors (CNC)

Deleted the Cost Breakdown table for CNC. The Cost Breakdown table in the SSP was provided previously to allow the RE to make progress payments to the Contractor for CNC. This table is not longer required because all of the forms and language necessary for progress pay (materials on hand) are included in the front of the 2010 specifications book.

XX” Electric Remote Control Valve

Renamed these bid items and specs to XX” Remote Control Valve. (Deleted “Electric”)

Remote Control Valve with Flow Sensor

New bid item and specification

Filter Assembly Unit (FAU)

FAU specification renamed as “Drip Valve Assembly”
Renamed all Filter Assembly Unit specifications to “Drip Valve Assembly”
Old Standard Plan detail for Valve Assembly Unit (VAU) renamed “Drip Valve Assembly”

Wye Strainer

Wye Strainer renamed to Wye Strainer Assembly

Renamed Standard Plan detail to “Wye Strainer Assembly”.

Valve Assembly Unit (VAU)

Deleted Valve Assembly Unit spec and bid item.

Irrigation Controllers

Added new bid items and specifications for Battery, Solar and Two-Wire Irrigation Controllers.

Pull Boxes Every 500 Feet

Deleted this distance requirement. Changed to “Install Pull boxes as required to install wire and make splices”.

Flow Sensor and Flow Monitor and Flow Meter

Flow Monitor and Flow Meter replaced by Flow Sensor throughout

Irrigation Valves

Gave the Contractor the option to choose plastic, brass, bronze. Created SSP to allow designer to override the default.

Manual Control Valve

Deleted these bid items (208617 – 208620) Designers should use gate valves or ball valves in lieu of manual control valves.

RCV With Pressure Regulator

Created new spec and bid item for these two in one package.

RCV With Flow Sensor

Created new spec and bid item for these two in one package.

Check Valves

Changed to located by Contractor as necessary to prevent low head drainage rather than “as shown”. If a designer shows the check valve locations on the plans, the Contractor will install the check valves per the plans.

Thrust Blocks

Added detail to Standard Plans for Thrust blocks.

Irrigation Functional Test

Clarified the language and requirements.

Clarified that BOTH lateral and main lines are to be pressure tested.

Sprinkler Control Conduit (SCC)

SCC is deleted as a landscape bid item. However SCC is still part of Section 86 electrical work (pipe on bridge). Wires in Conduit for Irrigation Crossover are now specified and paid for as CNC.

Irrigation Cabinets

All irrigation control cabinets are stainless steel by default.

Padlock language revised to match that included in Section 86.

Rain Sensors are now included by default (AB 1881 requirement).

Created SSP to allow designers to not require Rain Sensors.

Landscape Elements Section 20-5


Edging was broken out as a separate bid item and specification as part of this revision. Edging will no longer be paid for as part of the various inert materials. Show edging type and location on the plans.

Gravel Mulch and Decomposed Granite

Deleted bid items for SQYD measurement. Kept bid items for SQFT measurement.

Decomposed Granite (Miscellaneous)

Deleted this bid item. This work is already covered by Decomposed Granite.


Renamed bid item mulch to wood mulch and moved the specifications to Section 20-5

Standard Plans

  • Standard Plan sheets (H1-H9) have been revised
  • One new Standard Plan sheet has been added (H9A).
  • Six new details have been added:
    • Irrigation Conduit Under Sidewalks, Driveways and Paths (This is the new name for the old "Irrigation Sleeve").
    • Thrust Blocks
    • Rock Blanket
    • Flow Sensor
    • Tree Well Sprinkler Assembly (Sub-surface Type C-II Modified bubbler in a can)
    • Drip Valve Assembly
  • Three details have been deleted:
    • Riser Support (This work in now included in the Riser Sprinkler Assembly Type IV bid item, specification and detail).
    • Riser Type VI (This work is now included in the Pop-Up Sprinkler Assembly Type II bid item, specification and detail).
    • Extend Irrigation Crossover (This work is now included in the Irrigation Crossover bid item, specification and detail).
  • The names of 11 details have been renamed to match new bid item and specification names:
    • Irrigation Crossover is now called Irrigation Conduit
    • Wye Strainer is now called Wye Strainer Assembly
    • Flush Valve is now called Garden Valve Assembly
    • Riser Type (I-IV) are now Riser Sprinkler Assembly (I-V)
    • Swing Joint Type (I-III) are now Pop-Up Sprinkler Assembly (I-III).

Updated: July 26, 2013