Do It Yourself Landscapes: Ideas, Tips And Advice For Northern California Landscaping

North CA has climate and natural landscape. How to work with the natural environment to create a beautiful landscape.

How Do I Develop a Plot Plan?

Plot plans are to scale drawings of the landscape area. This can be done by hand using graphing paper, or often, if your home is relatively new you can request a plot plan that was done by the architect. The first thing you will want to do is go out in your yard and look at the area. Sketch in where the house is, then the side yards followed by the back and front yards. Once you have this basic plan, set your plan aside and move on to the next step.

What is a Site Analysis?

A site analysis is when you look at all the elements that go into gardening, such as your areas average rainfall, growing period, and what type of soil you have. As well as other things such as plants that are already on the site, views from windows, and drainage. Many nurseries offer soil analysis, this would be a good thing to look into because it will help you decide on plants. To help you, some regional information follows concerning Northern California; however, it is also helpful to find out specifics about your area.

Northern California Hardiness Zone: 7-10

Rainfall: Coast and coastal mountain valleys 40-60 inches per year

Inland Areas 10-20 inches per year

What Questions Should I ask Myself When I Assess my Families Needs and Desires?

You want to be able to enjoy your outdoor area and make it a functional part of your living space. Here are some questions that should be considered:

1. How often are we outside? Everyday? Weekends? Less than that?

2. What outdoor activities does our family like to do? Entertain people? Cook and eat outside? Relaxing? Children playing? Field games? Swimming?

3. Do you have any favorite Trees? Flowers? Shrubs?

4. Is anyone in the family allergic to a plant?

5. Are there other special needs?

a. Clothesline

b. Trash Can storage

c. Delivery

d. Pet areas and shelter

e. Additional parking

f. Hobby working areas

6. Do you plan on putting an addition on the house in the near future?

What Plants Should I Use and Where Should I Put Them?

There are three elements that go into choosing a plant: how well it can handle the climate, how the plant fits with the desired whole, and the plants availability. Some plants that do well in Northern California are:


Bearded Iris

Shasta Daisy



Coral Bell












You can also visit local nurseries and talk with someone. Tell them what your needs are, show them your plot plan. After you have assembled a list of perspective plants find pictures and put plants together. Decide if you like the way the blooms and foliage look together. Make sure you know plant height as well. When you have completed this step, it would probably be best to get copies of your plot plan that way you can try different landscapes and choose the one that will suit you best.

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