California Climate Zones

The GardenZeus California Climate Zones were created to allow GardenZeus.com to offer our uniquely customized gardening information, and automatically generated monthly tips and task lists, across a large and climatically diverse state. Gardening expert C. Darren Butler took into account many factors while developing the GardenZeus California Climate Zones, such as seasonal climate, elevation, temperature averages and extremes in both summer and winter, frequency of frosts, and precipitation. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones were not sufficient for the purposes of GardenZeus.com because they take into consideration only the lowest annual temperature, which puts most of California into a few zones. Sunset Zones presented the opposite problem: since we're developing unique data, and a lot of it, for each climate zone, the 19 Sunset Zones that occur in California are just too many zones. For GardenZeus.com, our 15 climate zones for California, like the third bed for Goldilocks, are just right.

All zip codes in California are included in one of these 15 climate zones.

CA Zone 1: Cold Mountain Areas CA Zone 1: Cold Mountain Areas
The coldest, generally high-elevation areas in California, with winters as cold as -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Lake Tahoe is the most densely populated area in this zone.
CA Zone 2: Cold Winters, Northern or Wetter CA Zone 2: Cold Winters, Northern or Wetter
Northern and high-rainfall California areas with cool-to-hot summers and generally mild but unpredictable winters with temperatures dropping at times to well below freezing. Includes many medium-to-high-elevation foothill and mountain areas, like Auburn and Nevada City, but also many scattered areas and odd pockets as far south as the southern end of the Sierra Nevadas.
CA Zone 3: Northern Inland, More Extreme CA Zone 3: Northern Inland, More Extreme
Areas in Northern California with moderate winters that may include frequent, mild overnight frosts; and hot-to-very-hot summers. Includes most areas in Northern California where summer temperatures normally exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Examples include Sacramento and Concord.
CA Zone 4: Northern Inland, Less Extreme CA Zone 4: Northern Inland, Less Extreme
Areas in Northern California with less-extreme seasonal conditions and temperature variation, which may include hot periods in summer and mild overnight frosts in winter. Examples include San Jose and San Rafael.
CA Zone 5: Northern Strong Coastal Influence CA Zone 5: Northern Strong Coastal Influence
Mild-climate areas in Northern California, generally without frost, and with mild summers that rarely reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Includes Santa Cruz and nearby areas, many areas on the San Francisco Peninsula such as Palo Alto, and portions of the East Bay.
CA Zone 6: Northern Coastal CA Zone 6: Northern Coastal
Areas in Northern California with mild, frost-free winters and cool-to-warm summers. Includes coastal cities such as San Francisco, Monterey, and Carmel.
CA Zone 7: Northern Mild Summers, Wet Winters CA Zone 7: Northern Mild Summers, Wet Winters
Northern California areas with high-to-very-high rainfall; cool-to-cold year-round temperatures; occasional cold snaps in winter; and long periods of cloudiness, overcast skies, and/or fog. Examples include coastal areas such as Crescent City and Eureka, and the San Lorenzo Valley.
CA Zone 8: Hot Central Valley CA Zone 8: Hot Central Valley
The warmest areas in California's Central Valley and similar inland areas, with very hot summers and cold winters that may include frosts and cold snaps to well below freezing. Includes the cities of Fresno and Bakersfield.
CA Zone 9: Cold Winters, Southern or Drier CA Zone 9: Cold Winters, Southern or Drier
Southern and lower-rainfall California areas with warm-to-hot summers and generally mild but unpredictable winters that can drop to well below freezing. Includes parts of Agoura Hills, Topanga, canyons near Malibu, and Lake Arrowhead.
CA Zone 10: High Desert CA Zone 10: High Desert
California desert areas generally at several hundred feet and higher in elevation with low annual rainfall, hot summers, and generally mild winters that may have cold snaps to well below freezing. Examples include Lancaster, Palmdale, and the Owens Valley.
CA Zone 11: Low Desert CA Zone 11: Low Desert
California portions of the Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert with very hot summers and generally mild winters that may drop to below freezing. Examples of populated areas in this zone are the Coachella Valley including Palm Springs, and the Imperial Valley.
CA Zone 12: Southern Inland, More Extreme CA Zone 12: Southern Inland, More Extreme
Areas in Southern California with more-extreme seasonal conditions and temperature variation, with warm winters that may include frequent, mild overnight frosts; and hot-to-very-hot summers. Includes substantially all of the San Fernando Valley, portions of most inland valleys, and much of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
CA Zone 13: Southern Inland, Less Extreme CA Zone 13: Southern Inland, Less Extreme
Inland areas in Southern California with less-extreme seasonal conditions and temperature variation; with mild overnight frosts, if any; and with moderate-to-hot summers. Includes Whittier, many areas in and near downtown Los Angeles, and milder inland-valley areas.
CA Zone 14: Southern Strong Coastal Influence CA Zone 14: Southern Strong Coastal Influence
Southern California areas with moderate-to-strong coastal influence, mild winters generally without frosts, and warm summers. Includes many areas in West Los Angeles, many Orange County areas not directly on the coast, and large portions of San Diego County.
CA Zone 15: Southern Coastal CA Zone 15: Southern Coastal
Coastal areas in Southern California, generally within 1 to 1.5 miles of the ocean, with moderate-to-cool year-round temperatures, mild winters, and cool-to-warm summers. Includes many beach cities such as Venice, coastal Santa Monica, NewportBeach, and coastal areas of San Diego County
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