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Using Micro-Climates as a Planting Guide

By Edited Jun 11, 2015 0 0

The layout of the land and the structures in your yard creates micro-climates. There are many variables that go into determining individual micro-climates in a landscape. The variables include the sun, shade, temperature, soil, moisture, and surrounding terrain. Utilizing these effectively will determine the health of your plants, and it will allow them to provide you with different functions. These functions can include anything from windbreaks, shade, sound barriers, and prevention of erosion.

When determining the different micro-climates in your landscape, the first thing that you must consider is exposure to the sun. Northern, southern, eastern, and western exposure play a key role in developing different micro-climates. Northern exposure create a shadier, moisture environment. Marginally hardier plants do better in a southern exposure where they tend to stay warmer and are better sheltered from the wind. Where it is warmer the soil tends to be drier, and therefore, these plants will require more water due to constant evaporation. Plants in the southern exposure tend to bloom first and they have a longer growing season. Northern exposure provides a cooler outdoor environment which can be a plus during hot summer days. Eastern exposure provides early morning sun and moister soil. Place plants that are vulnerable to sun damage on this side of your house. Drought and heat tolerant plants do better on the western side of your home where it tends to stay warmer in the summer. The western exposure provides for more air circulation, therefore this is the prime place to plant windbreaks.

The next thing that you should consider is the surveying the topography of the terrain. Study how the environment affects these areas, and try to work with the terrain instead of fighting it. With hilltops, winds and drainage can present certain problems. Because warm air rises plant that thrive in drought like conditions will do better here. Planting trees at the top of a hill will provide a windbreak. At the bottom, moisture loving vulnerable plants will do well in this environment. Planting hedges half way down a hill will protect plants at the bottom from cold air. Delicate plants should be places on the leeward side of structures to protect them from hard rains. I learned this the hard way. I had planted pampas grass along the front of our property adjacent to the street, and at the top of a hill. A hard rain came and literally bent it in half ruining it for this year. So understanding these concepts before purchasing and planting can save you valuable time and money. Also remember with slopes erosion can present a problem. Plants and retaining wall can combat this.

The last thing to consider is the man made environment. Planting trees and shrubs near streets exposes them to pollutants from passing vehicles. These chemicals can clog the pores on the leaves. If planted to close to the road special care will be needed to keep the foliage clean. Spraying these with water once a week will remove dust and debris from the surface of the leaves. Driveways, sidewalks, and even the color of paint on structures can influence heat retention. These structures will release heat at night therefore influencing plants differently. Lighter colors will reflect excess heat onto plants during the day.

Taking all these factors into consideration can greatly affect the outcome of the landscape. Considering how a nicely laid out plan can influence the property value of your home, paying close attention to these factors before beginning landscaping can save you a lot of time and money ,and bring you beauty and a pleasant environment for years to come.

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