Homeowner How-Tos: California Landscaping Advice

Whether you’re looking to beautify your yard for your own enjoyment or you’re doing some pre-sale renovations, landscaping is one of the easiest ways to accomplish your goal. Nothing makes a house more charming than a blooming, thriving yard. And while gardening can be mysterious, you really just have to follow one simple rule; landscape for your zone. Here’s how to do it…california-landscaping.jpg

  • First, figure out what your zone is:

    Just what is a “zone”? Good question. In a nutshell, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones break down different areas by temperature. Each plant has a hardiness zone range, which dictates whether or not it will live year-round with that area’s temperature range. Note that annuals will grow anywhere that it warms up in summer – including super-cold places like Alaska – so zones are really referring to perennials, which are plants that will survive through winter. California spans zones 5b to 11a, so look at the map closely to find your specific rating.

  • Choose the Right Plants:

    Once you know what zone you’re in, it’s time to select plants that will grow happily in your area. This means they won’t get too cold in winter or too hot in summer, both of which can kill plants and make them more susceptible to disease. Plants that thrive in your zone will survive year to year and reproduce on their own, saving you some serious cash in the long term. Wondering about a specific plant? Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder, which allows you to input any plant species and check its specific requirements.

  • Opt for Natives When Possible:

    It’s good to choose native plants, or plants that are original to your area, whenever possible. These plants are especially hardy because they’re fully acclimated to your local climate and conditions. To figure out what’s native to your area, search through organizations likeCalifornia Native Plant Society or visit a local nursery.

  • Pay Attention to Care Guidelines:

    Caring for your plants means more than simply heading out with a hose once in a while. You need to know what each plant’s requirements. For example, you should know how often to water and mulch, what type of drainage is best for your plants, what soil to use and whether your plants need fertilizer, and shade or sun. Consider planting species with similar needs close to one another to save you time and trouble.

    Some plants may also be able to tolerate a wider range of temperatures if you take care to protect them when necessary. For instance, most succulents hardy to your zone will survive a frost, but they may get burned, causing leaves to brown and drop off. But, if you drape them with frost cloth and follow proper post-frost care, they’ll do better.

At the end of the day, the main thing you need to do is to take pride in your landscaping and have fun with it. Make sure your zone-tolerant landscaping efforts fit your aesthetic and lifestyle, and you’ll be much more successful.