Choosing plants that thrive in your climate is the first step toward having a beautiful garden. To pick plants that fit your climate, it is important to look at the zone hardiness of your area and that of the plant to make sure there is a fit.
Hardiness zones are based on the measurement of the average annual minimum temperatures throughout specific geographical areas. Based on these measurements, geographical areas are given a zone hardiness number between 1 and 11; with 1 being very cold and 11 very warm. Using hardiness maps to find the zone in which you live can help you determine which plants will thrive in your garden by comparing your garden climate to that of which the plant typically does well.
A microclimate is an area where the climate differs from the rest of your surroundings and these can have a tremendous impact on what can be planted in your garden. Microclimates can be large or small. Great examples of microclimates are urban areas (brick, concrete) that absorb the energy of the sun to keep an area warmer then its surroundings. Areas up against buildings or houses often classify as microclimates as well, since the building will radiate heat and has the greater potential to protect plants from adverse conditions. Natural features can also create microclimates. Slopes move colder air downward which drains into lower areas such as basins and valleys. Windy areas may have less frost but can also blow away snow which provides plants with a protective blanket during cold winter months. The best example of natural microclimates might be large bodies of water as they buffer temperatures significantly, keeping areas cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Finding your zone is a very good start, but understanding your own yard’s unique microclimate characteristics can greatly expand your planting options in your garden, especially for those gardeners in colder climates.
Check below to see what zone you are according to this map.