Figuring out what plants grow best in your area is a very important part of the small garden landscape design process because it would be very disappointing if you plant your garden and then half of it dies at first frost.
A simple and mostly reliable way to figure this out when shopping for plants is by using the USDA Hardiness Zone Map. This map divides the United States into 11 different zones based on average minimum winter temperatures. This index rates plant hardiness per area and can be used as a guideline when choosing plants for your small garden.
Keep in mind though, that this is not foolproof because temperatures may go well below the minimum temperatures for the area. And it doesn’t account for heat, humidity, and regional climate fluctuations. Also, there are temperature fluctuations within the garden itself – for example, a shaded garden will have lower temperatures than a full-sun garden.
When deciding on plants you have to also take into consideration the amount of shade and sun, the wind circulation, and the direction your small garden faces. A southern-facing garden will get much more sun than a northern-facing one. You should also consider geography. This will influence the type of garden you will choose. For example, if you live in Arizona you may not want to plant a lush garden. You could have a lush garden in a somewhat-arid location, but you would need to carefully select the right plants that can withstand the climate. You would also need to consider the amount of time and money you are willing to spend setting up an efficient and effective watering system.
You can easily determine what plants will survive and thrive in your small garden by identifying what climate zone you are in, and then planning your plantings around that. It’s pretty easy, just match the color in your area on the map with the color on the graph. That will give you the zone you’re in. When considering or purchasing plants just check the tag on the plants and make sure they are suitable for your zone.
To find your climate zone visit: Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Zone Tool