Plant Hardiness Zones and Micro Climates 101

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by RaymondPeter, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. RaymondPeter

    RaymondPeter Simple Man

    So you want to have a successful garden you say? Well do you know what zone you are in? No? Well let me help you.

    If you hang out with or around any gardener long enough you will hear the terms zone, and micro climate often enough. But what do they really mean and why do you need to know about them?

    I could try to explain them to you but with so much information out there it is far easier to point you to the experts. Here is what The Arbor Day Foundation has to say about Plant Hardiness Zones:

    Now that you know a little more about zones what is a micro climate? Well you see that last line about local variations? That is talking about how things such as a concrete patio, or a line of trees that shades part of your daytime sunlight can alter your zone.

    Example 1: You are growing a plant on the south side of your house. There are no trees to block any sun, but there is a structure that blocks most of the wind in that location. Because of the thermal mass of the house and it's ability to retain heat, as well as that location having less wind (therefor staying warmer); that particular location may be 1 or 2 climate zones WARMER than the rest of your yard.

    Example 2: You are growing a plant on the north side of a tree line. All around the location there is flat grassland. Because of the lack of sunlight to warm the ground as well as no protection from wind this location may be 1 or 2 climate zones COLDER than the rest of your yard.

    Soil types (i.e. sand v.s. clay) can also have a big effect on the exact zone of your location.

    To help locate what zone you are in I suggest taking a look at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map found here since it includes recent climate changes.
    chelloveck and Motomom34 like this.
  2. WestPointMAG

    WestPointMAG Monkey++

    I made the map bigger but it got a little fuzzy.
    chelloveck likes this.
  3. RaymondPeter

    RaymondPeter Simple Man

    They have a high res version on the site but I didn't want to post it and take up too much bandwidth. ;) lol
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  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Here is a bit better of a map with a little more info:

    And an idea of what your area will be this spring for start of the planting season:
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    The plant dates for 5a & 1-4 are real risky, almost too early in my opinion. We always get a storm around the first week of May. But it does give a general idea of when to start your plants.
    chelloveck and Yard Dart like this.
  6. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    It doesn't matter when I plant, within a week of planting we'll get a late season winter storm or drop below freezing for a couple of days. Never fails, I plant we get winter weather.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  7. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I'm solidly in zone 5. Putting anything out before mid May requires a reserve of replacements.
    chelloveck and Motomom34 like this.
  8. dr3wfray33

    dr3wfray33 Monkey

    Hey guys - here is an improved and innovative version of a planting zone map. It surely is a more modern take on zones and what to expect in each area. I believe this will help you and your future with gardening.

    Enjoy & share with your gardening peers :)
    Dont, Mindy Sue, Ganado and 2 others like this.
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