A Resource List for Planning a Southern California Garden

I’m back with a garden post! I did a BUNCH of research when it came time to plan my garden. But I’m DEFINITELY not an expert and I’m not going to pretend to be. So, I want to direct you to the books, classes, rebates, programs, garden tours, etc. that I used when planning my Southern California low-water native and adaptive garden.

Garden Planning The Gold Hive-3078.jpg

A few of my tips before I get into the resources:

  1. Measure your yard and map it out on graph paper or SketchUp like I did in the above photo. I printed off multiples so I could doodle different layouts and make notes of roof water runoff and the like. I also found it handy to have on hand at all of my classes and meetings with landscape people so they could get a full understanding of the scope of work.

  2. Make a notebook with pictures of the yard to show the slope, the architectural features, and the context to take out and about to meetings with landscapers, hardscape installers, etc. I used this fancy portfolio because I had it left over from my art school days, but any binder, file folder, or whatever will do. I tried it on the iPad but hard copy print outs were far easier - especially with the sunshine glare in an outdoor nursery.

  3. Go to all the free classes you can! I went to this one (which published their comprehensive slides here) but my friend took this one where she ended up leaving after the multi-course session with a full-on design plan for her yard!

  4. Explore mature gardens and look at the plants in person at nurseries. I ruled out a lot of plants when I saw them in their off-season and opted for new ones I wasn’t considering when I saw them amongst complementary plantings.

  5. Check out rebates! There are programs in San Diego literally giving away free rain barrels, free trees, and giving out cash to encourage yard makeovers. Don’t miss out!

As you know, I’m in San Diego, so all of these resources link to San Diego or Southern California-based programs. Some may apply to other regions of California so they’re worth checking out, but if you’re out of state, use this list for inspiration and Google for your local programs.


Rebates and money savings:


Books and educational material:

Gardens, places to go, groups to join:

There’s SO much information in all of those links - happy learning!

To get a refresh on where I’m at on recapping my garden makeover, read about my garden goals, what the sad yard used to look like, how I saved $2k clearing the old yard, how I got the utility company to do tree service, how I refreshed a tired fence and added vines, how I removed cord clutter from the exterior of the house, how I repaired the stucco finish on the house, and my favorite gardening and landscape tools.