Landscaping for your climate zone with native plants saves water and attracts friendly visitors!


Did you know that you can see more species of birds in San Diego County than in any other county in the United States?

According to San Diego Audubon, our region supports a diverse range of habitats that draw over 515 species of birds from as far as the Arctic in the north and Argentina in the south. This diversity is largely due to the fact that six distinct climactic zones are found in the San Diego region. From the coastal prairie zone which is influenced by the cool ocean air in the west to the dry, hot conditions in the desert zone in the east, our region supports a wide range of climactic conditions. Understanding these climactic zone conditions help to determine how well different types of landscaping will survive and thrive in your yard.

These guidelines from San Diego Sustainable Landscapes provide detailed information on how to select climactic zone friendly plants that are water efficient and save you money on your water bill, build healthy soils, are fire resistant, and attract native pollinators like birds and butterflies to your yard. The best candidates to fit these criteria are native plants which, thanks to our diverse climactic zones, can be found in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes at local nurseries. Check out the map below to find where you live and see an example of the types of native vegetation from each zone.

San Diego County Climate Zone Map
  • Zone 1, Coastal Prairie: Coastal strand plant communities
  • Zone 4, South Coast Inland: Coastal sage scrub communities and coastal prairies
  • Zone 6, Upland Central: Coastal sage scrub communities and chaparral
  • Zone 9, Transition: A wide variety of plants are supported from coastal sage scrub to oak woodland
  • Zone 16, Mountain: South oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and chaparral
  • Zone 18, Desert: Desert plant communities (sage, succulent cactus, and willow)

There are many resources in the region to help you to create a beautifully landscaped yard that is well-suited for your climactic zone. The Sustainable Landscaping Demonstration Garden provides inspiration for how to design your yard to generate environmental and community benefits. There are in-person classes and online resources to help you transition your yard to a low water use, climatic zone friendly garden available at the Water Smart landscape makeover program. The San Diego County Water Authority even has an incentive program to help you turn your thirsty turf into a sustainable, native garden.

There’s no better time than now to get out in your yard, roll up your sleeves, feel the warmth of the sun, and hear the songs of birds passing by as you start to transform your landscaping to be climate zone friendly.