Gardening in the Yuba-Sutter area is strongly affected by the Mediterranean climate of the California Floristic Province: throughout this entire area, there is usually no rain at all for the entire duration of summer. This means that if we try to grow any plant that didn't evolve in California or one of the world's four other Mediterranean climate zones, the plant will probably need to be watered very frequently all summer—or if it's from a desert region and thus better adapted to surviving long periods without water, it may drown in the winter from receiving more rain than it's able to handle.
The amount of rain we receive in the winter, however, can be very different depending on whether you live in the valley or the foothills (or the Sutter Buttes, if you're one of those rare few). The average annual precipitation ranges from 15.9 inches (all rainfall) in Nicolaus to 82.1 inches (mostly snowfall) in Strawberry Valley.
The soil is also very different depending on whether you live in the valley or the foothills. Soil in the valley tends to be very heavy clay, with very poor drainage (especially because it tends to be absolutely flat). Soil in the foothills may be sandy and is usually very well drained (especially because it tends to slope).
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You should also check our list of plants restricted by law to make sure you don't plant anything you'll be required by law to remove. Then check our list of invasive weeds to make sure you don't plant anything that will take over your entire yard and neighborhood. Some of the worst invasive weeds that gardeners who don't know any better continue to plant in the Yuba-Sutter area include Russian olive tree, common fig tree, common velvetgrass, Italian ryegrass,Himalayan blackberry, Himalaya berry, and bigleaf periwinkle. In addition, although silverleaf cotoneaster, English ivy, and Chinese tallow tree have not yet been found in Yuba or Sutter Counties, they are currently spreading out of control in adjacent counties. Check the invasive weeds page for a longer list of plants to avoid. In addition, the California Invasive Plant Council website tracks invasive weeds throughout California.
Many gardeners select plants solely on the basis of their adaptability to local temperatures and soils, not their adaptability to Mediterranean rainfall patterns. This gives gardeners access to a wider array of plant species that are easier to find at big box stores, but most of these plants require gardeners to spend vast amounts of time and money watering them every summer to keep them alive. With California subject to increasing levels of drought, this intensive watering is bad for the environment and unsustainable. If watering restrictions are imposed on us by law, gardeners will be unable to keep these plants alive and will be left with entire yards full of dead plants. (Some watering restrictions have already been imposed on us by law: per Marysville Municipal Code § 18.86.070, it is illegal in Marysville for a multifamily residence (such as a duplex or apartment complex) to have lawn on more than 50% of the landscaped area, or for a commercial or industrial development or a model home to have lawn on more than 25% of the landscaped area. In addition, all properties in Marysville other than single-family homes must "emphasize low water consumptive plants" in nonturf areas.)
Other gardeners select plants on the basis of their adaptability to local rainfall patterns as well as to local temperatures and soils. These gardeners choose only plants that are native to the world's five mediterranean climate zones: California, the Mediterranean Basin, southwestern Australia, southwestern South Africa, and central Chile. These plants are much easier to grow here than plants from other parts of the world, but some of them are so easy to grow that they are invasive weeds, taking over miles of land and killing off all other plants in their path. Therefore, it is important to research any non-native plants you grow, not only to make sure they will grow here at all, but also to make sure they won't grow out of control and kill off everything else.
There is one other problem with non-native plants. Many species of native insects have only evolved to pollinate and depend upon native plants for survival. Therefore, the number of pollinating insects that help propagate your plants for you will be greater or lesser depending on the number of native plants in your yard. Furthermore, native birds, reptiles, amphibians, and so on have only evolved to eat native insects, while native mammals have only evolved to eat native animals that eat native insects (or that eat native animals that eat native insects, and so on). If there are not enough native plants growing in a particular area to sustain the native insect population, the entire food chain can collapse. For these reasons, it is a good idea for all gardeners to incorporate at least a few native plant species into their gardens.
Garden-worthy native species include many beardtongues, bentgrasses, bramble berries, buckthorns, buckwheats, buttercups, California lilacs, clarkias, clovers, cluster-lilies, conifers, coyote mints, cudweeds, daisies, deervetches, fritillaries, goldfields, horsetails, paintbrushes, larkspurs, lupines, maidenhair ferns, milkweeds, monkeyflowers, mule ears, native edible fruits, oaks, onions, oniongrasses, phacelias, pome fruits, roses, rushes, ryegrasses, sedges, skullcaps, snowberries, stone fruits, tarweeds, tidytips, tulips, violets, willows, willowherbs, wood ferns, and woodland stars, as well as many other kinds of plants listed on the pages for central oak woodland, valley grassland, yellow pine forest, riparian forest, and freshwater marsh. Check our pages about native plants for tons of additional information about how to select the best native plants for your yard.
It is a common misconception that most common garden weeds are native plants. In fact, unless you live in the mountains or foothills, the majority of plants that volunteer in your yard are probably non-native. They are usually very hard to get rid of precisely because they evolved somewhere else. Their natural predators or other ecological stresses that would limit their spread in their homelands do not exist here.
After you've decided which plants you want to plant, see our list of nurseries and garden centers to find places to buy those plants.
What plants do you grow in your garden? Add them to the garden plant lists, along with the name of your town or neighborhood. Maybe some of your neighbors will be inspired to try growing them too!
Sometimes it just makes more sense to hire someone else to perform certain tasks in your garden than to do everything yourself. See our Landscape Services page for companies that will do your garden work for you.
Per Marysville Municipal Code § 18.86.070, it is illegal for any property in Marysville other than a single-family home to have decorative rocks, woodchips, hardscape, or other non-living materials on more than 25% of the landscaped area. It is also illegal for any property in Marysville other than a single-family home to have nonporous material (such as solid sheets of plastic) under the mulch.