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Los Angeles Backyard Gardening: How to Start with Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers, and Herbs at Home in California

Do you plan to begin growing a garden in your backyard this year, but you have no idea where to start? It can seem intimidating to start, but starting a garden is rather simple When you know the measures that need to be taken. Growing plants in your garden can help you preserve your sanity and guarantee you have food if the future is uncertain.

Los Angeles Backyard Gardening
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When there are continuous interruptions in the supply chain, leaving grocery store shelves empty, growing your plants might be helpful, and you could save some money. The good news is that it’s not hard to get a garden started. Following the methods below, you can harvest plants with ease. Below we will learn about Los Angeles backyard gardening, USDA hardiness zones of LA, when to plant different plants in LA, climatic details of Los Angeles and California, and a step-by-step guide on how to grow other fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs in LA backyards.

What are the USDA hardiness/ planting zones of Los Angeles?

The weather in Los Angeles, California, ranges from warm to hot all year long and is often dry. This region experiences what is known as a Mediterranean climate, which is a subtropical dry climatic type. It has a dry summer and a wet season throughout the winter, which are the defining characteristics of this climate type. The summers range from mild to quite hot, and the weather is almost always dry.

The summertime temperature trend often starts around the latter half of June or the beginning of July and continues through the latter half of September or October. However, it can begin as early as the latter half of May. In Los Angeles, the average high is 84.8 F, and the average low is 65.6 F. During the summer months in Southern California. However, the average temperature in the area often climbs beyond 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).

Because of the offshore flow of atmospheric air mass caused by an atmospheric high-pressure system, the regular Los Angeles coastal sea breeze is cut off. The warmest months are July, August, and September, with September setting a new all-time high temperature of 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius). How are winters in Los Angeles? Winters are pleasant to warm, with occasional heavy rains, averaging 68°F (20°C) and 48°F (9°C).

At least 5 miles inland from the shore, coastal locations seldom fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). However, minor frost sometimes occurs during chilly nights, especially in places that aren’t directly affected by coastal air. Temperatures in the Los Angeles region may fluctuate by as much as 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) between interior places like the San Fernando Valley and San Gabriel Valley and coastal areas like the Los Angeles Basin.

Gardeners interested in knowing which plants are likely to flourish in their region might use the USDA hardiness zone map as a guide. This is true not just of the grass that covers your lawn but also of the trees, shrubs, and perennials you have there. The expansive county of Los Angeles comprises 11 different zones, spanning from 7a to 11. The map of the hardiness zones is created by utilizing the average temperatures of the coldest winter months.

Plants that can withstand such temperatures will have the appropriate labels. The heat zone map that the American Horticultural Society prepared is a map that is more useful to gardeners in Los Angeles. This map is constructed based on the number of “hot days” that occur annually in a specific region. When the temperature rises to 86 degrees Fahrenheit or more, we refer to that day as a “hot day.”

Because of its topography, Los Angeles has several different heat zones, some of which are just a few miles broad. If you were to go from Santa Monica to Covina, you would go through eight distinct heat zones! That covers a wide range, from one heat day to one hundred and twenty heat days. When gardening in the Los Angeles area, it is important to be mindful of the various heat zones. Choose drought-tolerant plants to decrease plant stress and water costs.

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Los Angeles Backyard Gardening: Step-by-step guide to growing a backyard garden in Los Angeles

Firstly, choose the correct location 

For the most significant results, water and light are the two most important factors to consider while planning your garden. Plants need sunlight for photosynthesis to begin. Plants that grow the quickest need to be exposed to direct sunlight. The quickest-growing veggies need full daylight, consisting of at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunshine daily and an environment free of obstructions, such as trees, bushes, or fences. Because of this, you won’t get much of a harvest if you grow sun-loving veggies in areas that receive a lot of shade.

Suppose your yard receives full sun; plant plants thrive in full sun. If your location receives at least four hours of direct sunshine each day, you may also have success growing root vegetables such as carrots, radishes, and beets. Locating your plot as close to a water supply will be advantageous. To assist these delicate plants in developing sturdy roots and stems, you will need to be able to provide consistent watering for the first few weeks after the germination of seeds or the transplantation of seedlings.

An occasional soak every few days is preferable to a daily spray after your plants have become well-established. The water will then go deeper into the soil, stimulating the roots to develop deeper into the soil, where they will have a higher chance of gaining access to the nutrients they need to remain healthy. Install soaker homes or timed drip watering systems to save water and time. 

Prepare the soil in your backyard 

It is possible that you had cover crops, often green manure crops, sown for the winter season. Growing cover crops is good when your garden isn’t producing fruit or flowers. Growing legumes in your home garden is an excellent idea since, as they mature, they enrich the soil with nitrogen. In addition, when planted in the spring, cover crops prevent soil erosion, suppress weeds, and function as compost. 

Do not transplant vegetable or flower seeds or seedlings for at least two weeks after the trimming and digging in green manure crops. This will enable the vegetation to decompose to the point where it can provide the new seedlings with the nutrients they need. Green manure breakdown generates heat that kills seeds and transplants.

A few weeks before planting in your home in Los Angeles, California, rake up any winter mulch, add compost, and allow the soil to settle for a couple of weeks to build its strength. Let the soil lie before planting so the amendments can thoroughly decompose and enrich the soil. This also reduces the likelihood that the roots will be damaged.

Up to fifty percent organic matter, such as leafy material, straw, grass clippings, and vegetable leftovers from the kitchen that are not oily, should be added to clay soil to break it up and supply slow-released nourishment. Sand alone will not be enough; keep in mind that construction workers combine sand, clay, and water to manufacture cement. Maintain an annual mulching routine consisting of the application of organic materials.

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To have rich and easily worked soil in the spring, turn everything under in the autumn. “Growing-only, no-walking” spaces like those provided by raised beds with a lot of organic debris dug in to create an environment promoting widespread healthy root development and complete drainage.

Start planting your backyard garden 

Wondering how to plant your backyard garden? When it comes to seeds, it is best to begin planting little seeds in smaller pots while planting big seeds directly in the garden. When done in this manner, it is much simpler to maintain track of tiny seeds and prevent them from being washed away. Be sure to water the beds a minimum of once a day till the second set of leaves emerges, at which point you should increase the frequency of your watering to multiple times per day.

When seeds are old, improperly kept, or planted too deep; the soil is too cold or wet or dry; the manure burns the seedlings, or the soil produces a crust due to heavy soil or muddy watering, poor germination can occur. Seedlings are less likely to die from damping-off if they have enough air circulation, moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and sufficient drainage. During the second set of leaves, transplant seedlings. In the growth beds, thin out the seedlings with care.

All seedlings should be handled carefully, so avoid squeezing them too hard. Although fresh leaves and roots can be grown, the plants cannot generate new stems. Ice cream, spoons, and forks, as well as pencils. When seedlings are transferred, switch to a pattern of watering that is less frequent but deeper. This will stimulate the roots to develop deeper into the soil, where there is more moisture.

When transplanting plants throughout the summer, it is best to wait until the late afternoon or evening. This gives the plants the whole night to begin to recuperate before being subjected to the full intensity of the light and heat the following day. Plant the seedlings so close enough that the mature plants’ leaves will cast a shadow on the soil in the spaces between them. 

Sun cannot heat the soil, keeping the roots cooler. Plants with unbound roots are preferable when purchasing transplants. In the summer heat, roots that cannot stretch out quickly enough cannot take in enough moisture. Before planting, gently break up the rootballs so the roots can immediately stretch out and establish themselves in the surrounding soil.

Be careful while watering your backyard garden. 

Want to know how to water your garden? A shovel test can help you figure out when to water; the soil should be moist to the shovel when placed. Deep watering is needed. Watering your garden in your home daily will run off before it can soak into the soil. It is better to water until there is runoff and continue to water as often as necessary to fulfill the shovel test requirements. When there is an excessive amount of run-off, you are also wasting water.

For your plants to get more moisture, teach them to grow deeper. In the spring, thorough watering should only be done once every two to three weeks for ordinary soils. Soil feeder roots will develop deeper this year, so plants only need to be watered once a week during extreme heat. Soil thickness determines how far one inch of irrigated water can penetrate: 12 “sandy soil, 9″ deep in loamy soil, and just 3” deep in clay soil.

Root zones of plants typically extend between 2 to 12 “down; however, deeper root systems are possible for bigger plants like tomatoes. The compact nature of clay soil allows for better absorption and less runoff when watered often over a short period, instead of being irritated all at once over an extended period. It is best to water your plants first thing in the morning before the sun is at its highest point in the sky.

This prevents water from evaporating and allows the plants to dry out before sundown, which helps prevent mildew growth. When the nights remain warm, particularly when the leaves can’t dry out before sundown, refrain from watering the plant from above. The temperatures ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit are optimal for the growth of fungal diseases, and the fungi only need two to four hours of exposure to warm, wet conditions to flourish.

The majority of plant deaths may be attributed to overwatering. As was just said, the roots will perish if there is excessive water. It is best to refrain from strolling about in your garden immediately after watering so as not to compress the soil. Paths should be made using stepping stones and either straw or mulch. Never put your foot down in elevated beds. To ensure that all sides of the leaves are clean, you should sometimes water them upside down.

When you mulch the soil, you mitigate the sun’s drying and heating impacts, allowing you to flood less often and in smaller amounts without sacrificing effectiveness. Turn used plastic bottles into containers for drip watering as recycling. Remove the bottom, drill a few holes in the cap and the bottom, turn the container upside down, bury it, and then add some water and fertilizer. Planting containers of gallon and 5-gallon sizes should be buried up to their rims so they can be easily watered deeply with a hose in your home.

Fertilize your backyard garden properly 

Because of their short yet rapid growth, crops and annual flowers need fertilizer. The ideal fertilizer to use is a normal slow-release, complete fertilizer. In addition to the macronutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (NP-K), plants need extra nutrients. The amount of fertilizer you use does not have to be excessive. Check at the N-P-K rather than the specific fertilizers for roses or citrus.

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There are several advantages to compost, including its low cost, the fact that you can manufacture it yourself, and the fact that it is slow-releasing and includes micronutrients and organic matter. In the spring, apply a balanced fertilizer to the whole garden. As soon as a plant is established or transplanted, it begins to develop and actively needs a readily available nutrition resource. Well-fed plants are more resistant to insects and diseases and more tolerant of heat and water stress, making them stronger and more productive.

Give them manure tea or fish emulsion every six weeks when transplanting vegetables. To make tea from manure, warm a container in the sun, then fill it with dung and water in the ratio of one part manure to two parts water. Once a week, stir the mixture. A nutrient-dense tea used to nourish plants will be available one month from now.

A combination of one tablespoon of fish emulsion and one-half teaspoon of seaweed or kelp may be combined to create an outstanding “garden tea” fertilizer solution that can be used throughout the garden. Every two weeks, water the root zones and spray the leaves with this solution.

Foliar sprays improve micronutrient absorption. However, this effect wears off with time unless the application is made more often. They also aid plants in dealing with heat stress. Granulated fertilizer can be made from natural substances, such as four parts seed meal, 1 part lime, 1 part rock phosphate (or 12 portion bone meal), and one portion kelp meal.

The roots and leaves of your plants will suffer if you fertilize them during our very hot summers. If you are using chicken manure and it is really hot outside, it can be counterproductive to use a lot of it in your garden. It is possible that too high concentrations of salt and ammonia could cause seedlings to catch fire and lower yields, if not cause the plants to perish altogether; also, the salt that is left in the soil after the harvest can restrict the kind of crops that can be grown there in the future.

When to start planting in Los Angeles?

How you will plant your veggies is an important consideration to take into account when deciding the optimal time to start your vegetable garden in Los Angeles, Southern California. If you intend on germinating your seeds indoors, you can have a head start on the gardening season by several weeks compared to a gardener who plants seeds in the ground outdoors. For starters, the gardener who plants seedlings outdoors will have to wait longer to get their crop if both parties plant seeds outside simultaneously.

It is essential to remember that the climate in various regions of Southern California, and even different counties within the same region, may vary greatly. For instance, the care and maintenance of a garden in Oceanside will be significantly different from that of a garden in Julian. The temperature tends to be more temperate in areas that are in closer proximity to the water. 

This often results in a longer growing season, which in turn makes it possible to cultivate food throughout the whole year. When living in a location that experiences frosts and freezes, especially severe, it is of utmost importance to grow various crops during the right seasons. If you want to cultivate outdoors throughout the winter, you will find that your choices are more limited.

It is essential to know the dates of the last and first frosts if you reside in a region that experiences freezing temperatures. Most of your planting will occur after the season’s last frost, and most of your harvesting will be finished before the first frost.

  • January: beets, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, parsnips, spinach, radishes
  • February: lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, purple beans, parsnips
  • March: radishes, lettuce, purple beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, basil, spinach
  • April: corn, basil, eggplants, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, beets, radishes, spinach, lettuce, beans of all colors
  • May: corn, green beans, yellow beans, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • June: corn, green beans, yellow beans, peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • July: not an ideal time; plant only if necessary
  • August: is not an ideal time
  • September: plant at the end of September, like turnips, radishes, beets, carrots
  • October: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, chard
  • November: garlic, shallots, fava beans, lentils, peas
  • December: if you still have any tasks remaining from November, you should make an effort to do them; not an ideal time to plant cause of very little light.

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Best vegetables to grow in the backyards of Los Angeles

California is home to many vegetables, and so is Los Angeles. Many vegetables can be grown in the backyards of Los Angeles, like lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, peas, beans, and other vegetables.

Lettuce: Gourmet greens can become slimy and unpleasant when stored in the refrigerator. Planting your own will allow you to select some leaves immediately before supper, rather than having to stop at the shop to buy them first thing in the morning. 

Lettuce thrives in temperate climates and should be started from seed for the best results. Maintain a wet environment for the plant while the seeds germinate, and harvest it when the leaves are a few inches tall. If you like alternatives, get a mesclun mix with several lettuce kinds.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes that thrive in high temperatures can be grown from seed, or, if you’d like, you can pick transplants, which you can get at local nurseries or on the internet. Take note of the kind of product you are purchasing: Because indeterminate kinds continue to grow and produce until a frost, their trailing vines need to be staked. 

Unfortunately, this makes them less than ideal for growing pots due to their tendency to become top-heavy. The fruit of determinate kinds matures in a very short amount of time, and the plants themselves only grow to a height of around three to four feet.

Beans: Beans are available in a dizzying array of types, and their production is abundant. Plant the seeds in the ground without first transplanting them since transplants seldom succeed. A trellis is required for pole beans, and bush beans may be grown in pots, but you’ll need a lot of room for them to develop. To know when to harvest certain varieties, you should read the seed label to obtain the “days to maturity” information; you don’t want to wait too long since they will become tough.

Cucumber: Most cucumber varieties are vines that thrive in warm temperatures; thus, you will need some room to grow them. There are other options for vertical climbing, such as trellises and cages. Look for round, golden, tiny, or petite kinds. Because transplanting may be such a challenge, it is recommended to sow seeds directly into the ground.

Kale: This superfood is highly resilient and doesn’t like the frigid weather as in California. A good number of species will make it through the winter and begin to re-green themselves in the spring. Growing kale in beds is recommended, although it can also be grown from seeds or transplants. 

Best fruits to grow in the backyards of Los Angeles

Many fruits can be grown in the backyards of Los Angeles, like apples, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, jujubes, lemons, bears lime, peaches, apricots, plums, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and other fruits. 

Strawberries: One of the fruits that requires the least amount of upkeep is the. Plant them directly in your food garden and place them in well-lit locations. Although they are hardy enough to withstand frosty winters, it is recommended that new strawberry plants be added to the beds every other summer to maintain a healthy supply.

Apples: Apple trees are known to be among the most resilient of all fruit trees. Several kinds can survive chilly winters. However, apple trees are more vulnerable to various diseases and pests than fruit trees.

Peaches: Peach trees are inherently more compact than other types of trees, making them an excellent option for those who lack a significant amount of room. Some trimming and thinning are required to obtain the finest harvests possible.

Apricots: Apricot trees are wonderful full-sun fruit plants that need little care and attention. However, they won’t bear fruit until the second year after they’ve been planted, so you shouldn’t become discouraged if they take some time to get established.

Figs: The fig tree is a perennial fruiting tree that requires little care and attention. Some newer types are far more cold-resistant than the older ones, and some of these newer varieties may even be grown in containers so they can be brought indoors for the winter. Standard varieties are the ones that are susceptible to damage from frost.

Best flowers to grow in the backyards of Los Angeles

Various flower plants can be grown in the backyards of Los Angeles, such as Californian aster, monkey flowers, golden yarrow, bush poppy, zinnias, purple coneflowers, cosmos, black-eyed Susans, and other flowers. 

Black-eyed Susan: Black-eyed Goldenrod-colored ray flowers, which radiate outward from a central cone of dark-brown disc blooms, are the identifying feature of Susan plants. These recognizable asters will reproduce themselves if grown in full light. Germination requires 70-degree soil for them.

Coneflowers: This heat-resistant plant displays mild leaf wilt even in the driest circumstances. It is tolerant to poor soils and dry weather. This plant is vibrant yet subtle at the same time thanks to its bright green hairy stems, which contrast with pink-lavender blossoms, and its core cluster of red-brown disc flowers.

Californian aster: This daisy-related plant is a perennial that grows in the daisy family. The California Aster is characterized by having fuzzy leaves arranged on a stem with several branches. Flower heads that have reached maturity will curl back to reveal florets that are either white, pink, or lavender. Place the California Aster plant in an area of the sloping yard with many rocks around it.

Golden yarrow: The sunny disposition of Southern California is well captured by the vivid yellow flowers that grow on this shrub. Golden yarrow is another member of the daisy family and can be found growing as either a perennial or an annual across this area. On top of the tall, emerald-green, and grey branches is a cluster of stunning flowers. Golden Yarrow is a well-liked option for landscaping in Los Angeles gardens because it has a prolonged flowering season and contributes beautiful color to the yard.

Monkey flowers: The shrubbery The Monkey Flower is a perennial plant that is endemic to the United States and may grow up to five feet in height. This plant resembles a shrub, with leaves that feel similar to glue and often have curled margins. The blooms each have five broad lobes that vary in hue from bright red to orange to white. Hummingbirds and bees are only two of the many pollinators that are drawn to the Monkey Flower. Plant it next to a window that looks out so you can keep an eye on everything.

Best herbs to grow in the backyards of Los Angeles

Many herbs are suitable for Los Angeles’s backyards, like mint, rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, oregano, basil, dill, fennel, and other herbs.

Mint: If you let the mint spread on its own, you’ll get the greatest results. However, it may be invasive, so if this is a concern, grow it in pots instead. The finest flavor is achieved by growing it in direct sunlight, although it can be grown in the partial shade well. To harvest the leaves, wait until the plant has finished blooming or has been pruned back in the summer. 

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Mint leaves can be frozen whole or cut for future use. Small, rusty dots on the underside of the leaf are the most common sign of mint rust. Cut back and clean up the soil by raking up fallen leaves; new growth should emerge cleanly. Relocate the plant if mildew growth becomes an issue. Pests such as the mint leaf beetle might be a problem.

Rosemary: All year round, the leaves of evergreen rosemary can be gathered for culinary purposes. The blooms, which have a mild rosemary flavor, are also edible and can be used in rice recipes. Sow in well-drained soil in a sunny, warm location. It is also possible to grow it successfully in a container; for this, you must use compost based on soil and repot it every year during the fall. After blooming, prune the plant to keep it fruitful and prevent it from turning woody. 

The rosemary beetle and its larvae, which eat on the leaves from October through spring, might be an issue. Placing sheets of newspaper beneath the plant, running the faucet, or shaking the branches might help knock the pests onto the paper, where they will be easier to remove and get rid of.

Sage: Culinary sage leaves can be utilized at any time of year. Flowers can be used in salads and fruit puddings since they are edible. Oil and butter are good options for preserving sage leaves—plant in well-drained soil in a sunny, warm location. 

Use soil-based compost if you want to grow sage in a container. Cut back once the flowers have faded in the summer to stimulate new growth and prevent the plant from turning woody. If you see damaged leaves on your sage, remove them. This plant’s leaf hopper is unavoidable. If your potted plants suffer from mildew, relocate them to a more open area and pluck the infected leaves.

Thyme: As an evergreen herb, thyme may be utilized at any time of year. Oils and butter made from it are just divine. Sow in a sunny location with well-drained soil. If you want your thymes to thrive, avoid too rainy winters and avoid letting them sit in puddles. 

A soil-based compost combined with horticultural grit may be used to grow plants in pots. After blooming, trim back the plants to help them survive the winter. Aphids can damage new growth on thyme, but spraying with gentle horticultural soap can help keep them far.

Chives: The blooms, which have a slight onion flavor, may be scattered over salads and used as garnish throughout the growing season. Leaves may be preserved in butter or frozen in ice cube trays without water. Plant in a sunny, well-drained location with good soil and water often during the growing season. Apply mulch in fall. Cut down the plants firmly if you see an infestation of the onion fly, downy mildew, or rust, but don’t plant any additional allium family members in the same place.


Although it requires time, patience, and self-control, gardening is one of the most effective ways to relieve stress. Because the growing season for certain vegetables has already begun, you should start your study as soon as possible and proceed swiftly if you consider constructing a plot. Maintaining a consistent routine for your garden tasks will allow you to guide its development toward its greatest potential as it takes shape.

Don’t let the plants wither away without giving them some water. Weeds should be removed before they may produce seeds. Trellis, stakes, or tepees may be used to provide support for tall plants. When veggies are ripe, pick them right away. Don’t forget to take a moment to smell the fragrance of your garden. Follow the above parameters for the best yield and a healthy backyard garden in Los Angeles, California.


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