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Sunset Zones for California

Sunset magazine has created a climatic zone for the Western United States that is more useful than the USDA plant hardiness zones. In addition to the minimum temperature, the Sunset climatic zones also take into account important factors such as the number of daylight hours, marine influences, elevation, and rainfall. Using this system, California is divided into not just 10 zones as in the USDA map, but into 24 zones. It is important to know both your USDA zone as well as your Sunset Zone since nurseries may list plants either way.

To determine your Sunset Climatic Zone, use the Sunset webpage for California/Nevada or the Sunset Western Garden book. You can also use our conversion table to convert from one system to another. But as expected, a single USDA zone can correspond to several Sunset zones.

Sunset also has maps broken down into smaller sections of California. These are very useful since this allows you to check immediately for your specific city. If you live in the South Bay, look at page 3 of the (1.4MB) handbook published by the Santa Clara Valley Water District for your zone.

When it comes to choosing plants for your garden, our plansprovide guidance as to their general applicability for different climatic zones. And you can also contact us if you are not sure.

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