#6 Select appropriate plants
Using the right plant in the right place results in a healthy plant that has room to grow and requires minimal pruning, fertilizer and pesticides. Selecting appropriate plants can save you maintenance time and money, and sends less to green waste or the landfill. More time is available to enjoy your garden.
- Plants with lower water requirements do well in the Central Valley. Select plants that are appropriate for our climate and require less water to thrive.
- Include native plants in your landscape. Native plants are adapted to our climate, require little to no water once established, have fewer pest problems, need less maintenance, and attract native beneficial insects and wildlife.
- Consider conditions involving climate, soil type and sun exposure when planting. Observe the microclimates in your garden. Microclimates are pockets of climate conditions different from the much larger area around them. They may be shadier, sunnier, wetter, drier, higher, lower, hotter or colder. Trees and large shrubs in your yard and in your neighbor's yard can create shade or shelter. Adjacent buildings and your own home affect the amount of sunlight available for the planting beds. There may be shady places along a north facing wall or under trees perfect for shade lovers. Choose sun loving plants for areas lacking shade from trees, large shrubs or adjacent buildings. The references below give more information on choosing the appropriate plants for your conditions.
- Avoid invasive plants so they don't overwhelm desirable ones. Invasive plants require constant vigilance to avoid spreading into areas where they are unwanted.
- Don’t be afraid to pull out plants that were started from seeds dropped by birds or brought in by the wind. The definition of a weed is any plant that is growing where it is not wanted, no matter what the plant is. It can be transplanted, potted or composted, but don’t let it grow and outcompete more desirable plants just because it is doing well in your yard.
- Low-maintenance plants use less water and fertilizer. Choose a plant that grows to the size and shape your garden can accommodate. Read the plant tag or research plants and trees of interest in gardening books or on the internet. By choosing appropriately sized plants, you will need to prune less, saving time and minimizing green waste. See the references below to help select appropriate-sized plants for the garden area selected.
- If you have heavy (clay) soils consider raised beds to improve drainage.
- Consider utilities when choosing trees. Plant trees 20 feet from overhead wires and 6 feet from underground lines. Under wires, plant trees that will reach no taller than 25 feet.
- Think local. Buy local. Locally grown plants are better adapted to the Central Valley climate and will have a better chance of becoming established in your garden. Supporting independently owned local nurseries also helps the local economy.
Trees and Utilities Quick Tip (pdf)
Landscape Tree Care site with links to four Shopper's Guides to Landscape Trees, Fresno County Master Gardeners, University of California Cooperative Extension
Tree Selection Guide (pdf) Tree Fresno
SelecTree Tree Selection Site Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute
Tree Care Tips Arbor Day Foundation
Sunset Western Garden website or book (be sure to look up the Sunset climate zone for your location)
UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars
UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars Plant Search
Clovis Botanical Gardens water-wise demonstration garden
More info on Invasive Plants
Keep Invasive Plants in Check Plant Right