One of the most important steps in choosing plants is making sure it is suited to your climate. Find your USDA zone using these state maps. You can then choose plants that are suggested for that USDA zone. Just click on the picture to see the full size map.
These maps are based on the average annual extreme minimum temperatures. They do not account for average maximum temperatures, for example, and some plants may struggle. There is also the possibility of microclimates in your yard that are zones higher or lower than what the maps say they should be.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, 2012. Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Accessed from http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov.
5. California (North) USDA Zone Map
USDA Zones 5a through 10b are represented in Northern California.
6. California (South) USDA Zone Map
USDA Zones 5a through 11a are represented in Southern California.