Vegetable Gardening
Veggie Container Gardens
Easy To Grow Herbs
Growing Herbs
Plant A Vegetable Garden
Planning Your Garden
Planting A Fall Garden
Growing Tomatoes
Tomato Planting Tips
Tomatoes Made Easy
Tomatoes 101
Tomato Varieties
Raised Planting Beds
Starting With Seeds
Succession Planting
Mistakes Gardeners Make
Vegetable Garden Design
Vegetable Garden Tips
Winter Greens
Fruits and Vegetables
Herb Gardening
Growing Bean Plants
Garden Insects
Caterpillar Garden Pests
Summer Watering Tips
Garden Rabbit Repellents
Companion Planting
Plant, Grow, Harvest
Garden Hardiness Zones
Sacrificial Gardening
Controlling Garden Pests
Garden Overwintering
Leafy Green Veggies
Urban Organic Gardens
Flower Gardening
Outdoor Decorating
Outdoor Entertaining
Garden Recipes


Gardening Hardiness Zones

We love the changing seasons, but we definitely miss spending time in our gardens. Every winter, we are starting to wonder when we can begin planting again.

So, when can we get back out there? The best time for starting your garden depends on where you live. That's why every gardener knows their USDA Plant Hardiness zone.

A hardiness zone, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone.”

The USDA sets the zones based on the average annual extreme minimum temperature during a 30-year period in the past. The zones are not determined by the lowest temperature that has ever occurred or what is predicted to occur.

Know Your Hardiness Zone

So, how do you know which zone you’re in? The USDA has created a very detailed map outlining the US and how the zones are broken down. This resource is second-to-none when it comes to hardiness zones.

Once you determine in which hardiness zone you reside – and it is as simple as visiting the USDA map and clicking the mouse on your location - you can use this information to better plan your garden.

USDA plant hardiness zone map

Hardiness Zone Benefits

Knowing your hardiness zone lets you determine the following information:

  • Planting time: Each zone has a different seed sowing day versus possible frosts
  • Average soil and air temperature: What your average lowest temperature is
  • Planting suggestions: Which plants best perform in your zone

Seed companies have information on their websites regarding planting success for specific flowers, herbs, and produce within your hardiness zone. As you shop for seeds, be cognizant of the seed’s history in your zone. Much of this information will be noted in the product descriptions.

Issues Beyond the Zone

It is important to be aware that there are factors that will affect plant growth in addition to your hardiness zone.
Your garden's growth can be affected by any of the following:

  • Pollution levels
  • Temperature extremes
  • Moisture in air and soil
  • Soil quality
  • Light exposure

Planning Your Garden

Sample plans drawn out by Avant Garden Décor gardeners

Now that you understand what grows well in your hardiness zone, you are ready to begin mapping out and planning your garden. We’ve found the easiest way to go about this is to take it back to good old-fashioned pencil and paper. Need a little prompting? Try using our simple Downloadable Garden Planner! You can sketch out your gardening space at scale to get an accurate read on how many plants you can accommodate. 

When initially sketching your garden area be sure to include walkways, fencing, gates, any hardscaping (such as a shed, fire pit, gazebo or patio), and pools or ponds. Remember to take into account that some plants need more space than others to grow productively and map out their spacing accordingly.

As a way to save space, consider growing vertically too. Some plants can be trained to grow up instead of out. All you need to do is install plant stands and mark their spacing on the garden planner, too. Learn all about vertical gardening.

Keep Your Garden Active

Gardens don’t need to be a “one and done” planting project. You can use the space throughout the season to maximize production if you choose to do so.

This type of gardening is called succession planting. If you plan to succession plant you will want to have multiple garden planners and begin to define a planting timeline to better organize the activities. You can learn more about succession planting here.


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