Here you will find native garden resources, with a special emphasis on the climate and growing conditions of the channel islands, Los Angeles coast, and inland areas of Los Angeles.

Why plant a native garden?

We love native gardens.  They have high habitat value and provide islands of plenty for critters that visit your area. They conserve water, particularly when they replace turf grass and they can survive our hot, dry summers with minimum care.  They are beautiful and distinctive from gardens that have their design philosophy rooted in English thought patterns of water and seasons.  They give a sense of place – California is unique in the world and we celebrate that in our native gardens.  As a practical matter, native gardens can be lower maintenance.

Know your growing conditions

If you have prior gardening experience, you may be familiar with the concept of planting zones.  The local area has Sunset climate zones 22, 23, and 24 and USDA plant zones 10a, 10b, and 11.  However, I can’t ever recall seeing a native plant being sold for a “zone 11b” garden.  Instead, use an online garden planner designed specifically for California.  Calscape currently hosts a good one, with wide applicability.  Native plant providers have extensive online notes and information as well: Theodore Payne Foundation, Tree of Life Nursery, and California Botanical Garden are three larger local organizations where you can get information and purchase plants.  Look for plants or plant communities that are native your specific area as a safe starting point for what might grow easily.  Forget about the redwood forest and its delightful understory plants that you saw while road tripping to northern California – they often won’t thrive in southern California.  Instead, get really specific about your garden: If there were no development around, what would grow there?  What microclimates surround your house: Does a large tree provided by a previous owner or neighbor provide enough shade that you can use shade-loving plants in an area normally associated with coastal sage scrub?  Are the neighbor’s lawn sprinklers giving you moister soil in the area of your garden adjacent to their lawn?  Does the cool north side of your house resemble a deep canyon in the local mountains?  Choose accordingly, and your plants will have the best chance of thriving.

 

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