Is Microclimatology at Work in Your Garden? Is Microclimatology at Work in Your Garden?

It happens frequently - you admire your neighbor’s climbing hydrangea, but you can’t seem to get yours off the ground. Although you live in the same climate - the same block even - and providing you give the same good care, microclimates exist and may be at work in any garden. The following article discusses where and how microclimates exist and how you can use them to your garden’s advantage.

Microclimates exist in small spaces. Every house sets up its own microclimates - small areas around the home that are seasonally warmer, colder, or windier than other spots on the property. The four sides of your house, because of different exposure to the sun, all set up microclimates. A microclimate can be both a disadvantage and an advantage. Its disadvantage is that you may not be able to grow a certain plant in a specific area. But the positive aspect is that, once you have identified your microclimates, you can match the appropriate plant to an ideal location.

You've got to know a thing before you can change it. Look around your property. Do you have a ditch or stream on your property that frequently overflows? Do chill north winter winds seep right through your walls? Once you understand the specific microclimates around your house and garden you can adapt your plantings for them or even modify or change them. The following information lists common places around your homes where microclimates flourish.

Your south and west walls generally concentrate heat - this may be great news for your tomato plants, but your ferns may despise it. This may be a great place for your sun-loving plants, but then again, it may hold too much heat for your taste. Masonry walls will retain the daily heat from the sun and radiate it out to nearby plants at night. In very hot climates, this may simply produce too much heat. A solution may be to screen the wall with climbing plants and vines that will thrive in sunlight, or plant some hedges or trees.

Northern walls are delightfully cool spots in the summer. Your shade and leafy plants generally do well in north wall microclimates. Naturally, sun-loving plants may have a tougher time to thrive in this location. East walls make great settings for perennials because they get good morning sun (usually, unless you have a shaded area), but are protected from the more damaging afternoon rays.

Shade trees and arbors create under-story climates that may keep your plants from freezing in winter and getting scorched in the hot summers. Generally, these are garden spots that stay cooler during the day and warmer during evening hours. Eaves provide similar protection; however, they also block rain so the microclimate they produce may be dryer than other areas. Consequently, care must be taken to ensure that plants get an adequate water supply.

Windy sections of your garden can severely damage the lush foliage or broad-leafed plants. Such areas usually call for a buffer or conifers, tall hardy grasses or thick hedgerows. Planted near your home, these can also be great windbreakers and decrease some of those icy winter draughts. Wind breaks branches and can stunt your plant growth so learn how it behaves in your yard so you can control the microclimate it creates.

Microclimates exist everywhere - behind large rocks, near creeks or pools, on sloping ground or where cool air naturally pools. You can also artificially create microclimates in order to benefit the types of plants you want to grow. It all comes down to identifying your property's particular microclimates and deciding whether to go with them and plant accordingly or modify their conditions as you are able.

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