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Plant Selection

Careful plant selection is part of the following principles of River-Friendly Landscaping:

Consider the following when selecting plants for your River-Friendly Landscape:

  • choose California native (best choice) or Mediterranean plants — California native plants will help to foster local wildlife; both California natives and Mediterranean plants are well suited to our climate, thereby requiring less water and maintenance.
  • avoid invasive plants — check out for more information
  • the site — is it sunny, shady? is it flat or on a slope? what other plants or structures are nearby that will affect it (or visa-versa)? is it in an area that is always wet or very dry?
  • the soil — what kind of soil is it? clay or sand? the soil type in addition to the slope will affect drainage
  • how much room is there to grow? select plants that can reach their full size in the allotted area
  • minimize the lawn — lawn requires much more water to keep healthy than other landscape plants. By reducing or eliminating the lawn area, you will be conserving water and energy, as well as reducing the need for fertilizers and pesticides.
  • group plants by water needs (called hydrozoning) — this will make more efficient use of water. In this way, all of your plants will get the amount of water they need, which will keep them healthy and allow them to resist pests better.
  • plant trees — trees help to protect water and air quality. The proper placement of trees can also keep building cool, reducing air conditioning costs.
  • diversify — a diverse landscape resists disease and insect pests better.
  • conserve natural areas where possible

The following resources can help you identify plants for your garden or landscape:


Is your landscape River-Friendly?
Use our benefits calculator to find out.

Here are some more in depth articles on specific RFL topics that you might find of interest:

Contest Winner

RFL Inspiration Garden

RFL Examples

Rain Gardens

Mulch, Grasscycling, and Compost

Get Mulching

Fertilize Naturally — Is Feeding Frenzy Really Needed?

Plant Trees, Save Energy!

Right Plant, Right Place!

Plant Selection

Plant Communities

Take Action to Save Water Outdoors…

Lawn Care: How Green is Your Grass?

Rethink Your Lawn

Pests Bugging You?

River-Friendly Pest Control

Managing Common Pests

Good Bugs

Interview about RFL (MP3)

Choose California natives first

Don't Blow It!

Reducing Outdoor Asthma Triggers


Watch the YouTube video
"Slow the Flow - Make Your Landscape Act Like a Sponge"
to learn about the importance of landscaping to stormwater quality.

The Seven Principles of
River-Friendly Landscaping

Click on any section to learn more