Selecting Plants for Your Spring Landscape

When you're selecting plants, it's not only important to choose varieties that will complement your home and existing landscape.  Selecting plants that are suited to your climate is essential to creating a lush garden.  So how do you know which plants will grow best where you live?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a map of climate zones for plants, known as the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, in 1960.  A plant's "hardiness" is determined by its ability to withstand conditions, such as low temperatures, that are not considered optimal for growth.  Plants are assigned to the zones where they are most likely to thrive, so selecting plants assigned to your zone will help ensure your garden thrives too.


About the climate zones for plants


The USDA climate zones for plants are determined by average minimum temperatures.  When a plant is tagged for a particular zone, it should be able to survive the coldest weather that typically occurs in that zone.


There are 11 climate zones for plants in North America.  In Zone 1, the coldest, average minimum temperatures dip below minus 50 degrees.  In Zone 11, the warmest, average lows range from 30 to 40 degrees.  Only zones 2 through 10 fall in the U.S.  The United States' nine climate zones for plants are color coded on the hardiness map.  Each zone is divided into two sub-zones: A and B.  A, the colder of the two, is shaded with a lighter color than its warmer counterpart.


To figure out which climate zone you live in, simply locate your city on the USDA map.  Then, use the key to identify your zone.  You can also enter your zip code into an online zone finder to get a quick answer.  Once you've determined which zone you live in, begin selecting plants tagged for your zone.


In addition to taking climate effects on plants into consideration when you're planning your spring landscape, take time to prepare your soil for planting.  MTD garden tillers will help you cultivate the fresh soil your plants need to flourish.  To turn over your soil beds more easily and effectively, make sure the tines are sharp and that the other tiller parts are also in good condition.


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