We characterize a Mediterranean climate as one with dry mild temperature summers and cool, but not freezing, very wet winters. It's a two season climate. The Mediterranean climates are near large bodies of water, such as the Mediterranean sea, which is the dictator of land climate. The sea or ocean keeps land temperatures from freezing in the winter and from getting too hot in the summer.
We break this warm coastal climate into four regions, three of which have direct exposure to the Pacific ocean influence. The forth hides just on the other side of the coastal foot hill range that roughly parallels the coast-line. However, within these distinctive climates are many micro-climates. Each micro-climate is a function of its exposure or lack of exposure to the coastal influence due to the hilly terrain. You will need to evaluate your micro-climate and experiment with various plant material until you the right mix of plants that works best and looks attractive to you.
An undisturbed natural landscape is very cooperative. Plants (even of different species) in the same community share resources during stress times. They typically share resources through beneficial bacteria called Mycorrhizal. Having this important organism in your soil increases the health of your landscape, reduces water needs, and almost eliminates the need for fertilizers. For a more technical explanation of the benefits of Mycorrhizal in the Mediterranean garden, click here. If you can re-create this phenomenon in your landscape, you can make it almost totally maintenance free.
Plants native to California, and for that matter, most of the west, behave somewhat differently than mass produced high maintenance exotic plants you buy at big box retailers, such as Walmart. For example, native plants are difficult to maintain in pots. However, when planted in the ground, they require almost no maintenance once established. Here are some other features that would be valuable to know.
There many benefits of using locally adapted plants in your landscape. Here are just a few.
The south coastal Mediterranean climate extends from the Monterey - San Luis Obispo county line at the north end to the south of the Mexican border in Baja California. The central coast Mediterranean climate extends from the Monterey - San Luis Obispo county line at the south end to include coastal Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The southern end of the north coast climate begins with the San Mateo - San Francisco peninsula and extends to coastal Oregon. The further north you go along the California coast, the colder the summers and the wetter the winters.
This region has the least amount of rain and the most sun. It has long dry summers that end with hot dry Santa Ana winds from the deserts to the east. As the Pacific Ocean warms and relinquishes its control over coastal temperatures, the entire region becomes a fire hazard. Soon after, the dipole flips and the first rain storm hit causing mud slides in the burned areas. The rain continues until early spring, powering new growth on trees and shrubs, and germinating new plants. Spring begins early with an explosion of blooms.
The plant communities of southern coastal landscape are generally called California scrub. They are generally the same types of plants as central California, but can tolerate more heat stress. They are very distinct from plant communities of the Mojave and Colorado deserts to the immediate east. Most California scrub plants can not handle the low humidity, excessive heat, and freezing temperatures of the deserts, because they are protected by the marine layer of the coast.
Here are are some suggestions of plant material for creating a sustainable landscape in coastal southern California.
Here are some nearby organizations, nurseries, and online information to help guide you along the way in creating a fantastic Southern California Coastal Landscape.
This region's climate is very similar to the north coast. Its summers are also cool, foggy, and windy; however, not as brutal as the summers of the north coast. Also the winter rain fall levels are slightly less.
Here are some nearby organizations, nurseries, and online information to help guide you along the way in creating a fantastic Central California Coastal Landscape.
Climate dominated by cold foggy summers. Then, when the ocean warms in fall, the sun comes out and things warm up a bit. Think of all the old movies shot in San Francisco. Winters are mild and rainy, up to 6 inches per month in some areas of the north coast. The plant pallet in this area is very unique and usually unable to survive elsewhere. Here are some suggested plants for the area.
Here are some nearby organizations, nurseries, and online information to help guide you along the way in creating a fantastic North California Coastal Landscape.
Cities like Gilroy, Soledad, Santa Maria, Vallejo, Fairfield, Riverside, Santa Clarita, and King City are just far enough away from the coast or isolated by foot hills that the coastal influence is much less. These communities experience hotter summers and colder winters than their close friends to the west. However, they are not as hot as the Central (San Jaquin) Valley, which totally removed from the coastal climate by a north-south hill range that parallels the coast. The Central Valley of California is really almost a desert climate and homeowners in that region should follow our desert landscaping suggestions.
The plants selected for the near coast inland climates of California should be able to handle 100 degree summer temperatures and near freezing winter night temperatures. The better adapted your plants are to it's character, the simpler your irrigation system will be. Here are the temperature and rain profiles for Gilroy, the typical city in this intermediate climate, and Watsonville, a coastal city just on the west side of the Santa Cruz Mountain.
|Month||Avg. High (F)||Avg. Low (F)||Avg. Rain (inches)|
|Month||Avg. High (F)||Avg. Low (F)||Avg. Rain (inches)|
Although the two towns are only 19 miles apart, the summer temperatures are much warmer in Gilroy. They are separated by the Santa Cruz mountain range, which blocks the cool moist marine air that Watsonville gets.
Typically, cities and towns along the 101 freeway have this inland climate, because the freeway was laid on the east side of the coastal hill range. So without further delay, here are some recommendations for this climate.