Northern California Landscaping Zones : Expert Tips and Services

At Farmscape, we believe that every outdoor space can be transformed into a harmonious blend of beauty and sustainability. Sustainable landscaping and gardening at Farmscape is an integrated philosophy that guides every decision by our design, installation and maintenance teams. In practice, that means we work with site conditions to enhance the rhythms of nature and nourish people, pollinators and soil on all our projects.

Welcome to the diverse world of landscaping zones in California. Here, the unique blend of climate, soil types and elevation creates distinct areas — each requiring specialized landscaping approaches. At Farmscape, we understand these nuances and are dedicated to providing expert advice and services tailored to each zone’s specific needs. Whether you’re in a coastal region or nestled in the mountains, our knowledge of Northern California landscaping zones ensures your garden will thrive.

Northern California plants are a wild and varied bunch, so choosing the right species for your landscape is crucial. Our process starts with sustainable landscape architecture, and our designers are fluent in California weather and climate patterns. We begin every project by studying your microclimate, and heavily favor California native plants like salvias, manzanitas and local wildflowers for perennial spaces. We select fruit trees specifically based on local gardening zones and chill hours, so your trees will flower and ripen at the correct time. In addition, our garden landscaping manuals are all divided into microclimates, so our local landscaping teams can tailor our services to your local weather conditions.

In light of California’s weather patterns, which oscillate between periods of drought and El Niño years, it’s crucial to implement water-wise landscaping practices. At Farmscape, our landscape designs are meticulously crafted to optimize water use through efficient irrigation and drainage systems. This not only maximizes water efficiency but also promotes plant health. Our expertise lies in creating landscapes that are not only sustainable in the face of drought conditions but also maintain their lush, verdant appearance even during dry spells. Farmscape’s approach to sustainable landscaping blends practicality with aesthetic appeal, ensuring that your garden is both beautiful and resilient.

Northern California experiences more seasonal variation than many people think, which brings both unique landscaping challenges and opportunities. Farmscape offers year-round sustainable landscape management to ensure your garden remains vibrant and healthy throughout the year. In spring, we transfer your raised beds from winter to summer crops, fertilize fruit trees and weed perennials after the winter rains. Summer brings big vegetable and stone fruit harvests, citrus pruning and perennial deadheading. Fall means swapping out summer crops for winter, curing squashes and garlic, harvesting apples and cutting back ornamental grasses. And winter brings salads and citrus and fruit tree pruning. Managing all the gifts our California climate brings is best handled by a professional landscaping company that can manage all these different aspects of your landscape.

One of the first things we consider when designing your property is your Sunset zone, a climate classification system developed by Sunset magazine. This is more specific than the USDA zone (according to which most Bay Area homes are in Category 9). Sunset has also developed planting guides partnered with local nurseries to help designers choose wisely. Here’s a brief overview of Northern California’s Sunset zones:

  • Sunset zone 14: This zone includes the inland spots of the Bay Area, away from the immediate coastal influence. Cities like San Jose, Concord and Walnut Creek typically fall into this zone. It’s characterized by a moderate Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters.
  • Sunset zone 15: This zone covers areas that are influenced more directly by the ocean’s moderating effects. Cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley are in this zone. The climate here is characterized by cooler summers and mild, wet winters, with more consistent fog and lower temperatures compared to Zone 14.
  • Sunset zone 17: This zone is specific to the coastal areas, including parts of San Francisco and areas along the coast up to Point Reyes. It experiences a maritime climate with cool, wet winters and summers marked by fog and cool breezes.

When you work with Farmscape, we may determine that some of the plants you just love may not work in your microclimate, as each zone has its own specific planting recommendations based on its unique weather patterns. While it may be disappointing, it’s also a great opportunity to learn about the plants that will thrive in your area and tap into the unique beauty that Northern California has to offer.

When searching online for “landscaping companies near me,” be sure to select one that knows the requirements of all local jurisdictions. Landscaping in Northern California requires navigating a patchwork of various counties and municipal laws, which can quickly become tricky. Our experienced design team will do a preliminary search of any permit requirements your project might require. And our in-house landscape contractors will coordinate with any local governing bodies. Our expertise ensures that your landscaping project complies with local standards, giving you peace of mind.

We invite you to explore our portfolio of successful landscaping projects in various zones of Northern California. In the green “location details” boxes, you can see the different landscape zones for each project, along with how we have factored this information into each site’s look and feel. These examples showcase how Farmscape creatively addresses specific challenges, incorporating sustainable landscape design and eco-friendly landscaping practices:

If you’re a resident of Northern California, reach out to Farmscape today for a personalized consultation with our professional landscaping team. Whether you have a question about gardening zones, are looking for a quote, or want to discuss how landscaping can be tailored to your specific microclimate, we’re here to help. Let us transform your outdoor space into a sustainable, beautiful and functional area that reflects the unique character of the Northern California landscape.