Thursday, 12 June 2014

5 Tips to Selecting Bay-Friendly Plants

Did you know that choosing plants for your Bay Area landscape isn’t just about fragrance and beauty? If not, you need to note that considering a plant’s suitability for the environment where it will grow is equally important. In fact, this is one of the key aspects of Bay-friendly gardening today. If you want to make your yard more attractive, cut back on chores, effort, money and time spent on maintaining your yard and improve the surroundings; these 5 tips for selecting Bay-friendly plants will help:
  1. Test the Soil: This will help you in knowing the soil’s texture, fertility and structure. This in turn would let you determine the quality of the soil and kind of plants that can grow in it. Knowing the soil quality would also let you assess what kind of supplements, if any,the plants would need. For example, gardens with clay soil are well suited for trees like big leaf maple, hazelnut, white alder, red-twig dogwood etc. In case you have clay soil but wish to grow drought-tolerant bamboos, you will need to amend the soil to increase its nutrient uptake and improve drainage. Adding a suitable fertilizer around the roots when planting the bamboos is also crucial. All these steps can be done correctly when you know the type of soil that your landscape has.
  2. Choose Plants to Suit the Local Climate: In certain aspects, the climate of California is similar to the Mediterranean climate. With its dry, sunny summers and wet winters, you need to choose plants that can grow well in these special conditions. For example, with its annual six-month drought spell, drought-tolerant bamboos would be a good choice to consider. Many landscape experts also suggest growing plants native to the Mediterranean climate. These plants often adapt well to the Bay Area climate, require less water, fewer fertilizers and pesticides, and probably less pruning compared to a species that would have originated in a humid rainforest. 
  3. Know your Climate Zone: Knowing your particular climate zone is crucial for Bay-Friendly gardening. You can also check here with your zip code and find your specific climate zone. This will help you to shortlist the plants that will thrive in your landscape.
  4. Know your Microclimates: San Francisco is renowned for its diverse microclimates. From the Bay to the coast, you will notice a dramatic change in the weather. Even walking from one side of a hill with sunny skies to the other can make you encounter a damp fog. Therefore, it becomes important to study the climatic, soil and wind conditions of various areas of the landscape. Since different areas can have varying amounts of sun, wind, moisture and heat, they will affect the type of plants that can survive and thrive in your garden. For example, perennials like sea thrift, wild buckwheat, showy milkweed and lavender will thrive in an area with full sun and good drainage. However, for areas with clay soil and shade, native species like wood fern and western sword fern would be the ideal choice.
  5. Choose Local and Native Species: California native plants, most of which are drought-tolerant and naturally available in the State can be a good bet for your garden. Also, choosing native plants that grow or have evolved in the SF Bay Area is a good choice. These species (such as vine maple, Pacific acaena, California dandelion, white alder, columbine etc..,) are better adapted to life in the region and would additionally support the local wildlife too.
As a gardener, you have to exercise the power of Bay-friendly plant selection wisely to ensure that they work better–for both the environment and you.

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