Right Plant, Right Place
Right plant, right place
In 1992 the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in conjunction with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), produced the first edition of the Water Use Classification of Landscape Species or WUCOLS, an extensive classification of ornamental plants based on their water needs. Since then, this list has been revised 4 times as new species have been tested and added; there are now over 3500 plant groups included in the list which covers nearly every plant available in nurseries across the state. The list categorizes plants by water use, very low-, low- moderate-, and high-, based on location. We in Sonoma County are in Region 1, the North-Central Coast. On the WUCOLS website there are instructions on how to find the correct zone and an extensive list of low-and no-water use plants. Or, for a list of the best plants for our specific area, go to the Garden Sense plant list on our Master Gardener website.
Also check that the location meets the shade or sun requirements of the plant you’ve chosen as well. Full sun means at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. For vegetables, it means 8-10 hours of direct sun a day. Part sun or part shade means 3-6 hour of direct sun a day, with part sun being closer to 5-6 hours and part shade closer to 3-4 hours. By putting a plant is where it’s light requirements are not being met, we stress the plant, making it susceptible to pests and disease. It may look fine for a year or two, but eventually it will not be able to fight off the insect or disease problems and will fail to thrive or even die. And even if it does survive, it will never look as good as it would in the correct environment.
It’s also important to group plants with similar water needs on the same irrigation valve. If you have one high water need plant grouped with low water need plants, you will need to water to the level required by the high water use plant. Use separate irrigation valves based on plant water needs to maximize irrigation efficiency. Group the highest water need plants closest to your home so you can monitor the plants. The most arid, or low to no water use plants, would be farthest out on your property.
Don’t plant invasive species; you can access the latest invasive plant list via PlantRight. Some vigorous species can — and do — escape into open landscapes and cause a variety of ecological problems. They displace native plants & wildlife and increase wildfire and flood danger.