There are many reasons why California Central Coast residents need to consider native plants for their gardens. Not only are many extremely beautiful, but they generally require less care. This allows you to wow your neighbors without a lot of hard work. Native plants also are more resistant to pests, and they thrive in our conditions. They also usually require less fertilizer and fewer pesticides, so they are healthier for the environment. Keep these landscaping tips in mind when designing your California native plant garden.


Know Your Soil

It is essential to know your soil type before planting your native garden as it will determine which types of plants will thrive in your California garden landscaping. Ranging in elevation from 20 to 400 feet, soil in the Pajaro Valley tends to be sandy or clay loams that run extremely deep. If you live west of Watsonville, then you have clay soil, often called Clear Lake soil, that often drains very poorly. If you live in Watsonville, Pinto, or Elkhorn, then your soil may be slightly acidic. 

Those owning a home around Sunset Beach State Park and Aptos have a sandy soil that often contains gravel. This soil allows water to drain very effectively, so you need to consider plants that have low water requirements when choosing your landscaping plants. As you move closer to Cowell Redwood State Park, the soil becomes better drained and is ideal for growing a variety of native grasses. 

Once you reach Santa Cruz Mountain and the northwest slopes of Ben Lomond Mountain, then the soil becomes sandier, and it drains very well. The topsoil in this area may contain many needles, so you may need to remove the top two inches before planting your garden. 

If you own one of the beautiful coastal homes, then you can expect slightly acidic and relatively deep soil. One of the most challenging areas to grow a native garden in is the Maymen area because of the thin clay soil that drains very well. Therefore, you need to choose plants that have shallow roots and like semi-dry to dry conditions.


Understand Your Moisture Levels

Across Santa Cruz County, moisture levels vary depending on location. If you live in the Pajaro Valley, or around Watsonville, Elkhorn, or Pinto areas, you can typically expect to receive between 25 and 28 inches of rain annually. The area around Sunset Beach State Park, Aptos, and Cowell Redwood State Park gets about 29 inches of rain annually. As you reach Santa Cruz Mountain and the slopes of Ben Lomond Mountain, you find moisture increases to about 48 inches annually. In the Maymen area, annual rainfall increases to about 50 inches.


How Many Frost-free Days will my California Garden Landscape Get?

Different areas of Santa Cruz County have varying amounts of frost-free days, and the temperature can vary drastically across the county. Considering these factors is one of the landscaping tips that are often overlooked. 

If you live in the Pajaro Valley or the Watsonville, Elkhorn, Pinto areas, or around Sunset Beach State Park or Cowell Redwood State Park, expect a mean air temperature of about 58 degrees and a frost-free growing season of about 260 days. 

Once you reach elevations between 400 and 3,000 feet in the Santa Cruz and Ben Lomond Mountains, you can expect the average air temperature to drop to about 55 degrees, and the number of frost-free days to drop to about 232. The Maymen area gets about 260 frost-free days annually with an average air temperature of 56 degrees.


Landscaping Tips for Putting It All Together

Now that you have a better understanding of the soil, moisture levels, and frost-free days in the part of Santa Cruz County that you reside, it is time to put it all together to create a beautiful native plant garden. Follow these landscaping tips:


Landscaping Tip #1: Choose the Right Plants

While you should have a better understanding of the growing conditions in your location, think about your landscape. The chances are that some areas of your yard get more sun than others. Likewise, you may have areas that stay drier than in other areas. Choose plants that thrive in these locations.


Landscaping Tip #2: Prepare Your Soil

The first thing that you should do is prepare your yard for your garden. If you have a layer of needles, then these generally need to be removed. Be cautious, however, to not disturb the soil any more than is necessary because this encourages weed growth.


Landscaping Tip #3: Add Nutrients if Necessary

Some soil may have been moved into your landscaping, which may not encourage native plants to thrive. Therefore, you may need to remove this topsoil before planting. On the other hand, you may want to work with a soil company that can match the natural soil if you need to add topsoil to your landscaping.


Landscaping Tip #4: Prepare Beds Early

Those living in Santa Cruz County are lucky because we get beautiful weather days, even in the winter. Use these days to prepare your beds as early as possible. Native plants usually thrive in beds that have been prepared two to three months before they are planted.


Using native California plants is an excellent way to landscape. Consider your environment and get started choosing the right plants. Call a professional California landscaping company today to