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Choose Plants

Every garden is different. Here are steps for choosing plants that will thrive in your garden.

Photo: Marie Narlock
Photo: Marie Narlock
Right plant, right place: the key to success

The most important step you can take to increase the odds of creating a healthy, beautiful landscape is to assess the cultural conditions of your site – and then choose plants that thrive in that environment. Before selecting plants, determine the following garden conditions:

  • Sun exposure - full sun, part sun, shade
  • Soil - clay, loam, sandy, rocky
  • Microclimate - hot summer, cool summer, fog
  • Water – drip irrigation, sprinklers, no irrigation
  • Other considerations – wind, frost, views, broader surroundings,
  • Maintenance requirements – How much time do you have for garden chores? Is help available?

You’ve assessed your site. Now what?

Use the lists below to find plants that are attractive, easy, waterwise, and pollinator friendly. Click on each list to learn more. For your convenience, the lists are printable.

Why use California native plants?

California’s sublime climate and varied topography allow thousands of plants to thrive. Among these are the plants that were “born” in California and are therefore naturally accustomed to our environment. Some of these plants are not found anywhere else in the world. By gardening with native plants, you can tap the natural beauty of our surroundings for your own garden. Gardening with our native plants offers numerous benefits: many native plants require little water, fertilizer or pesticides, they attract important beneficial insects and pollinators that support our local ecology, they're low maintenance, and they provide a sense of place. Homeowners are encouraged to incorporate some native plants in their gardens.

Avoid invasive plants

Invasive plants are species that have become weeds. They are usually fast-growing, aggressive spreaders that are difficult to eradicate. In addition to creating mass quantities of fuel that significantly increases the risk of wildfire, invasive plants displace native species, threaten waterways, reduce biodiversity, and alter fish and wildlife habitat. Do not grow invasive species! If you have invasive plants in your garden, please remove and replace them. Familiar culprits include broom, ivy, and pampas grass. Here’s a photo-collage of common invasive plants in Marin.

Photo: Gardensoft
Photo: Gardensoft