Gardening in Southern California presents unique challenges, but even more so in Los Angeles. The beauty of the city skyline is a sight to behold. The palm trees at sunset strike joy into the heart, a touch of nature within the manufactured. But the bustle of the city creates a craving for some nature in your life. The gorgeous California sun has you thinking about how you can get outdoors and appreciate the world around you. Of course, the California landscape offers a diverse world to explore vivid nature, but that requires leaving the city. Bringing a bit of greenery into your life strikes the perfect balance between city and nature.
Life in the city is exciting but often so busy and stressful. The constant motion of traffic represents the rapid change and innovation taking place, but sometimes a person needs a moment of peace. Everyone needs time to slow down and center themselves to make sure they don’t get swept away by progress. Starting a garden is the perfect way to take a break and move a little slower. Focus on the slow but steady growth of your garden, and you may find that it brings you joy and a bit of peace.
Gardening soothes the mind through healthy habits and gets you moving outdoors. Finding a way to relax with landscaping may foster more benefits than you thought it could. Even if you don’t have a yard, there are plenty of ways to get your hands in the dirt and connect with the earth; and also connect with your community.
Gardening in Los Angeles presents some unique challenges as well as opportunities. While the city has less land for you to expand your garden, the California environment has a diverse and unique biodiversity in which you can engage.
We compiled a list of some gardening communities in your area as well as local resources you can utilize for more gardening advice.
Let’s start by talking about some tips for gardening in Los Angeles.
Gardening in California:
Gardening in California presents unique challenges, and in the city even more so. Some basics about California gardening are based around the climate.
Southern California has a Mediterranean climate, which means that Los Angeles has hot, dry summers and rainy winters. I’m sure you knew that already, but what does this mean for gardening?
You’re going to want to utilize that rainfall as much as possible to save water and hydrate your soil before planting. Consider trapping rainfall from the roof into barrels and creating troughs in your yard to retain water naturally.
Winter weather plays an essential role in Los Angeles gardens, in contrast to many other parts of the country, as the weather is both warm and damp. Most rainfall occurs in the winter and you should take advantage of this. Plant in the fall and winter, so seedling germinate during a heavily watered season. Once they are established, they have more of a chance to survive in the dry spring and summer seasons. To learn more about California gardening, read more here.
Fall and Winter Gardening in Los Angeles:
Gardening in the fall of southern California is the perfect time to prep for early spring and summer harvests. Make sure your soil is nutrient-filled by adding compost, peat, or fertilizer.
Since Southern California is such a dry environment, take advantage of the winter rains in your city. Planting hearty winter crops that survive in colder weather is a great idea. But, consider starting your early spring crops during the winter. When germinating your plants in the winter, start before the holiday season. Your plants need to start in the warmer part of winter, so when you put them in the ground in early spring, they aren’t shocked by warmer soil.
Water crops less during the winter, taking advantage of the rainy season, but make sure to test the soil moisture weekly to keep plants healthy.
Spring and Summer Gardening in Los Angeles:
The ideal time to start spring planting is April, the possibility of frost is gone, and warm weather returned. Now is the time to sow new seeds or place germinated seeds into the ground.
Keep in mind how vital watering is during this season. Water in the morning before the sun is high, so plants have time to absorb the water before it evaporates with the heat. Use the shovel test before watering to observe the soil moisture. Insert the shovel into the soil to test; the soil should be moist to the base of the shovel head. If not, you know that you need to water more often.
For arid environments, water deep instead of often. Watering deep means pouring until there is some run-off on the surface, as frequently as needed (use shovel test) rather than sprinkling the garden every day. This encourages roots to grow deeper and keeps them from drying out.
Join a Garden Club in Your Area:
Garden clubs are the perfect way to get involved with your community, whether you are an experienced gardener or have never even kept a houseplant. Get out in your community to learn from your fellow Los Angeleans and share your own experiences. If you’re feeling isolated, this is a beautiful way to make new friends and connections that you may not have before. Start your gardening journey by joining, visiting, or utilizing the resources from a gardening club.
The Los Angeles Community Garden Council offers community gardens throughout the city, where folks can use the plots of land to grow their own vegetables. Community gardens are perfect for those living in an apartment or with a small yard. The LA Community Garden Council provides resources to boost your garden skills. They serve as a volunteer community and donate their wares to those in need.
The UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County provides resources, community gardens, and workshops for gardeners in the Orange County area, including Los Angeles. Their website is a vast resource for gardeners in the area who need tips or have questions. They improve the community and teach about plant growth. If you are an Orange County gardener interested in volunteering and gardening, check out their website to become a member.
California Native Plant Society: South Coast Chapter specializes in plants native to California. The native plant movement is based on sustainable gardening and supporting the local environment by implementing California plants into your landscaping. The chapter for gardening in Los Angeles hopes to educate folks on the importance of native plants in the state’s ecosystem and personal gardens.
Not sure if a gardening club is for you? Check out our article on gardening clubs to learn more.
The Los Angeles Community Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a 127 acre botanical garden in the Arcadia valley. The Arboretum is a great place to visit for landscaping inspiration and education. They offer a variety of adult classes from herbalism to horticulture to farming. The Arboretum houses a library filled with resources on California gardening, botany, and environmental issues.
The California Botanic Garden is another beautiful site to visit for landscape inspiration. The garden offers community classes about the environment, conservation and gardening in Los Angeles. There are even free days to visit the garden with no admission fee. You can also purchase plants from their Grow Native Nursery that supports the conservation, education and horticulture research at the Botanic Garden.
How can I find out about more gardening clubs in my community?
Gardening in Los Angeles is a blooming community, full of educational activities and volunteer events for you to join. If you are interested in Los Angeles Gardening groups, check out this listing of LA gardening meetups.
Where can I find out more about gardening in California?
California is such an ecologically diverse state, the regions present different gardening challenges depending on your location. Check out this article about gardening in California to learn more about your state.