Whether one is an amateur or experienced gardener, it is easy to recognize that planting a hardy, luscious, and efficient garden is challenging. How can one possibly know which plants will live or die? Which ones will come back the following year or grow sufficient produce? Fortunately, there is a cheat sheet of sorts to point you in the right direction. With hardiness zones for plants, you can take the first step in designing and implementing the ultimate garden for your location.
How Hardiness Zones for Plants Works
Hardiness zones for plants (also known as “growing zones” and “gardening zones”) is a guide used by gardeners, growers, and the property owner extraordinaire to identify which plants are the most likely to thrive in any given location. The zones take into account the average annual temperature, from coldest to hottest, and various other factors.
Plants are then placed into a zoning category where they are most likely to survive, produce, and stay beautiful without constant maintenance. For example, a plant placed in Zone 7 could typically survive that region’s average winter. However, if that plant were moved to Zone 6, it would be far too cold and would likely freeze to death.
By examining which hardiness zone their home or property is in, home and business owners can design and implement a landscaping strategy to best suit their unique needs, wants, and style while ensuring that their plants can survive the average weather conditions of their environment. Of course, extreme weather conditions are impossible to predict, which is why this map focuses on averages.
What does hardiness mean for plants?
When gardening and landscaping, there are a variety of methods available to provide the most suitable area for any given plant. Dedicated individuals can adjust the shade, water drainage, and soil quality. What they cannot control is the weather. Unless they grow in a completely controlled environment, such as a temperature controlled, fully sealed greenhouse, their plants are exposed to the whims of Mother Nature. Hardiness zones for plants allow both expert and amateur gardeners to have a cheat sheet for knowing which plants can survive and which are more likely to fail.
What are the planting zones in the US?
The USA is divided into 13 zones. Each zone averages 10 degrees, either warmer or colder, than the one next to it. Zone 1 is the coldest zone in the USA, with Zone 13 residing as the hottest. While the zoning loosely follows a north-to-south increase in average temperature, the map considers the country’s topography, such as mountains, deserts, lakes, and altitudes. It is important to note that zones don’t change simply by state but by neighborhood. Warm pockets in a city can be vastly different from the surrounding suburbs, and a steep rise in elevation can make a dramatic difference.
How do you know what your zone is?
The easiest way to identify which hardiness zone you are in for planting and landscaping is to input your zip code into the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map provided by the USDA. When the zip code is submitted, it will zoom in on your specific location and provide the color to match to the key. You can also choose to zoom out to compare your address to the rest of your state and the USA as a whole.
What planting zone is California?
California planting zones range from Zone 5a to Zone 11a, making it one of the easiest places for gardening in the country year-round. While this may seem like a curious spread, it is essential to remember that California is the 3rd largest state in the USA and contains topography from the coastline to the mountains and everything in between. If you live in California, we recommend identifying your zone and working with native plants, fruit trees, and vegetables to create a lovely year-long garden.
Can gardeners trust hardiness zones?
While the USDA map mentioned above is a good guide for which zone you are likely to be in, it isn’t foolproof. For example, rainy and green Seattle, Washington, is in Zone 8a, but so is Arivaca, Arizona. Arivaca averages longer, hotter, and drier summers, with a completely different environment, yet they still sit in the same zone.
Other factors the map doesn’t consider are maximum temperature, precipitation, and average frost dates. Therefore, the information you gain from the hardiness zones for plants should be a component of your garden planning process but not the sole factor. We recommend using it as a loose guide, speaking with your local landscapers or nursery, and trying to use native plants as often as possible.
Depending on the unique composition of your property, from the soil type to the drainage capabilities to even the amount of shade, will affect how plants can grow. It is possible it will take some trial and error to determine which plants thrive best on your property, but the hardiness zones provide an excellent starting guide!
Design Scapes Utilizes Hardiness Zones for Plants
We at Design Scapes pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of planting techniques for our unique environment. If you are looking for a gorgeous garden that is both fruitful and easy to maintain, you can count on us to plan the ideal garden. Using specialized techniques, comprehensive irrigation, and climate-appropriate native plants, we will design and implement a landscape design you love for years to come.