Sunset Magazine has the best and most useful climate classification system for gardeners and landscape architects. For years, landscape architects have used the Sunset Western Garden Book climate maps to help decode California’s complicated patchwork of climate zones and find plants that will thrive.
You can use Sunset’s climate maps to identify the climate characteristics of a site during the site inventory process.
Sunset identified 14 distinct climate zones in Northern California.
San Francisco Bay Area and Inland Areas
Sunset identified seven climate zones in and around the San Francisco bay area.
There are many climates represented on the Central California map with both maritime and frigid mountains included in the area.
Southern California has many different climate zones caused by the land’s proximity to the ocean and elevation changes.
Los Angeles Region
Western Los Angeles and Ventura County maps show many climate zones ranging from subtropical beach zones to less moderate inland climate zones.
Eastern Los Angeles and Orange County contain a wide range of climate zones. The mountain peaks are classified in the same climate zone as the Rocky Mountains while the coastal areas are generally frost-free.
Coastal San Diego
Inland San Diego is warmer and drier than more moderate coastal areas.
The Salton Sea & Low Desert are some of the hottest areas in Southern California.
California is blessed with rugged interior deserts. Both high and low deserts are lands of extreme temperatures. Elevation and topography shape climate in the desert.
For More Information
For more information on Sunset Magazine’s climate zone map system, visit Sunset’s website or buy the The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide (Sunset Western Garden Book).
The Sunset Western Garden Book has been the western landscape architect’s constant companion since the early 1900’s. Almost every landscape architect in California owns at least one copy. If you are from outside California and preparing to take the California Supplemental Exam, I highly recommend purchasing a copy. You will not be disappointed.