Looking for something a bit different? While many of us use plants to connect with a positive force, some of us have never really thought about it. Author David Wolfe lists his top 12 picks to create positive energy in your home. With plants. Is this too much pressure to put on that ficus you’ve shoved into a dark corner? Probably. But certain plants rise to the occasion and conduct, create and ooze positive energy. Jasmine can soothe a stressed mind, while Rosemary promotes mental well-being. If you’re skeptical, you’re in good company. But why not give it a try? It might work. And the most you have to lose is that ficus in the corner.
What’s the difference between hardscaping and landscaping? As Northern California moves through more drought years and water restrictions, one popular option is hardscaping. What is hardscaping? While landscaping involves living plants and terrain, hardscaping is done using anything non-living. So an area raised along a fence with attractive bricks and re-claimed timber would be hardscaping. In this article Get Circled explains the difference between the two and dives into the benefits of hardscaping. We also learn how a well-designed hardscaped section of your yard will improve drainage, lower your maintenance hours and (depending on design) increase aesthetic value.
All you’ll need for this total open space transformation is a few thrift store or flea market baskets, pots, benches, buckets and more. The fun starts when you apply paint. In this piece, DIY design sage Shauna walks us through several super simple transformations of readily available items. With a little paint, the distressed wood of an aged bench can become something truly unique. An old pot cleaned up and coated with semi-gloss from an old, half-empty gallon of indoor latex, creates a planter you won’t find anywhere else. This article also helps you find both your porch’s sweet spots for sun-thirsty plants and shady ferns alike.
You’ve worked so hard on your outdoor space. In choosing the best plants, hardscape materials and design, why limit its beauty solely to the daytime? More and more yards are incorporating landscape lighting. Once limited to illuminating statues in parks and the occasional fountain, advances in safety and energy conservation have made landscape lighting accessible to all. From solar charged pathway lights to a spotlight on your favorite fern, there are more ways to light up your landscape than ever. This article lists 25 fresh and innovative takes on a segment of designed once reserved for public works.
This feature has some great ideas to add value to your home through outdoor staging. Whether you are selling your home or finding a new renter, these tips cover the simple and structured. Adding fountains, trees or a fire pit can add value to your open space. If you plan on selling your home, simple listing terms like “irrigation system” “peaceful patio” and “landscape lighting” will increase the value. The hard part is deciding what work to do given whatever your budget. This article even covers the latest trends, such as how yards are moving away from lawns to more eco-friendly hardscape areas.
Seven square miles of very different climates means you must choose your plants wisely. Along with varying temperatures you have soil, moisture, drainage, and wind to contend with. For example, a moisture-dependent shady fern will wilt and suffer on a sun-exposed Mission district patio. But the same plant will thrive in the breezy fog of the Avenues.
Today we’ll look at the variety of plants that work well in San Francisco depending on which microclimate you inhabit.
SFplantfinder.org revealed 714 types of plants suitable to warmth found in the City’s Mission district. Why so many listings? Well, along with being sheltered from that pesky sea breeze, the flat plateau runs along what was once Mission Creek. The soil here is rich and plants do well. Have a Mission garden and you can grow just about anything. Citrus, figs, squash, tomatoes, beans, and spinach all do well.
But these same valley spots that relish all that sun can get frosty in the wintertime. Succulents, while they love the sun, will die in the frost. If you must have succulents, keep them in pots so you can bring them in on the cold winter nights.
As we move toward the coast the temperature cools down more during the spring, summer and early autumn months. When the cool ocean air mixes with the heated land we get fog. The citrus, hibiscus, and gardenias won’t get enough sun here. They can also be damaged by the constant sea breeze.
By the ocean, the soil is sandy and friendly to gophers. Despite the detractions, many gardens and yards have a thriving plant system. What works? Some small tomatoes, yarrow, California thistle, Pacific wild rye, dune sagewort, windup clarkia, seaside daisy, coyote brush, coast buckwheat, and compact cobweb thistle thrive. In fact, most are drought-savvy plants to boot. So there’s that bonus as well.
The rule of thumb for gardening options here is, well, think of a Russian winter: radishes, potatoes, and turnips. All seem to thrive in the summer cold and wind and don’t mind the sandy soil. Just keep them protected from the gophers or marauding raccoons in nearby Golden Gate Park.
One bright (red) spot to gardening in the fog is the San Francisco Fog tomato. It’s considered an heirloom variety and will appear bright red when ripe. It’s said to be specially bred for the City’s low-lying western edge.
Between the fog belt and the sunbelt is the transition zone. This is the most difficult area as you might do well with fog-zone plants or sunny plants. The best advice is to look around your neighborhood and see what’s growing. If you have a neighbor whose yard is beautiful, invite them over and get them to talk about their plants (most people love to). And take notes.
Gardening common sense will help here as you need to be acutely aware of which parts of your planting area are sunny and which reside mostly in the shade. It is quite possible to have one part of your yard in the shade and exposed to wind and the other area in the sunshine. So you would mix fog belt with sunbelt in the same yard.
Still confused? From our research, we did find a few “surefire” plants that seemed to do well in almost any neighborhood in San Francisco.
10 surefire plants for Northern California
The state flower comes out in early spring and grows wild in many places. Well-suited to the wind and sandy soil the bright orange blossomed plant requires little water. Flowers bloom 55 to 75 days after planting.
These flowers attract pollinators with their flat, white presence and light scent. Once they grow they tend to spread around from underground runners and can reach two feet tall. They are hardy and will thrive with little water in areas with less-than-ideal soil.
There are four hundred species of aloe, some growing to nine-feet tall. Many remain low to the ground. The thick, slick leaves contain a sticky sap that remedies everything from burns to cuts. Might want to keep in pots as a freeze will kill them.
Sun will push them to bloom, thus the name. They like well-drained soil but hate the wind. Like most flowers, the sunny side of the yard is preferred.
A beautiful ground covering that provides a little treat. This variety produces small, sweet fruit. The plant will return each year to produce more berries. As a rule of thumb, the more sun, the happier the strawberry plant and the more berries.
Native to the Bay Area, it’s a perennial plant that waits until fall to unleash its bright palette of flowers. It grows low to the ground and spreads through roots easily to other areas. If trimmed back in winter, it will re-emerge in spring.
Another Bay Area native, mock heather loves sandy soil and dry areas. So if you’re in the City’s western edge it’s a good choice for your outdoor space. In summer this perennial produces bright, yellow flowers.
A great drought-tolerant plant that attracts many pollinators including butterflies, bees, and birds, you’ll recognize it by its beautiful silvery leaves.
Originally from the Sonoma Coast, this yellow sunflower grows close to the ground and comes into full bloom in summer. It fits right in with California’s famous coastal scrub landscape.
To balance out the list of “loves sun” plants at the beginning of the list, this one loves dry, shaded or partly shaded areas. Super drought tolerant it can make it through a foggy summer with little or no water. Bred into many different colors.
Resources: There’s a great resource out there, it’s an interactive map that shows you what works where. And if you like that one, there’s another journey down the rabbit hole of San Francisco plants you can take at SF Plantfinder. Happy hunting.
Do you have an efficient irrigation system? Can it adapt to rainy and dry years? The drought seems to be over but many of the restrictions remain. We can help you plan for what is coming up next and respond to unexpected changes in weather. SF Gate has a very good article listing the restrictions that will remain in place like hosing off hardscape, driveways and sidewalks.
Californians cut back on water usage faced with temporary bill surcharges meant to discourage usage. Consumers and businesses responded by reducing water consumption 22 percent. The end result will be higher rates. The New York Times has an in-depth look how we will be effected for doing the right thing.
We always consider water to be a precious resource and do all we can to conserve. We offer many drought resistant solutions for having a beautiful green yard and saving water. We also have years of experience designing and building efficient irrigation systems that will prepare you for drought or rain.
Time to Plant!
Sow seeds of cucumber, eggplant, melon, and squash directly in the soil.
Set out tropicals and subtropicals such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, and mandevilla to be established over the warm season. In areas with winter frost, plant in a protected site like a south-facing wall or beneath an overhang.
Life is hectic and full of unknowns, as we all know. Especially for anyone who is a parent! Sometimes it’s nice to kick back in a garden chair with a good book and a cup of coffee to let the stressors of the day slowly melt away.
Sunset Magazine did a fantastic write up of How to Design a Garden of Tranquillity, and it offers some tips taken from Traditional Japanese Gardening techniques on how to build your own peaceful space. If you’re looking for help on the design and the building, please call For Your Garden’s Needs!