Climate Considerations


When planning your garden, it will be useful to find out the local figures for annual rainfall, sunshine hours and temperatures, as well as details of any special climatic influences, such as frost pockets. Climatic variations can be considerable across the country, and will depend on latitude, altitude and a number of other local factors. Some areas have their own local climate, often with significant departures from the norm. Variations can include conditions such as the aforementioned 'frost-pockets', in which frost, rolling down a hillside, gathers in a dip or 'pocket' at the bottom of the slope.

The geographical setting may also make a difference: for example, hilltop sites over 150-200 m (480-640 ft) above sea-level may be several degrees colder than nearby low-lying places, producing a later growing season. Whilst coastal gardens are vulnerable to salt-laden winds, the moderating effect of the sea means that temperatures are less extreme than inland. Town gardens are usually more sheltered and warmer all year round than those in rural areas.

In addition, the microclimate should be considered: note which way the garden faces and which parts receive most shade and sun at different times of day and from one season to the next. For example, the shade cast by a deciduous tree is denser in late spring and summer than during the rest of the year.

Some corners of the garden may be sheltered, whilst others may be exposed and require screening if they are to be used fully, depending on the force and direction of the wind. There may damp and dry patches, or perhaps a cold spot caused by a dense hedge or building preventing the colder air from draining away to a lower level. None of these problems are inherently bad, but they will affect which plants will thrive. Try to take advantage of the different microclimates that occur within the garden itself, growing plants that enjoy the available conditions rather than trying to cultivate species that are unsuitable.

The articles in this section take a further look at making the most of microclimates, and how to deal with particular problem gardens. You could also take a look at our section on Understanding Climate for more information on dealing with climate in general.

Using Microclimates
Using the micro-climate of your garden to its best advantage ...
Exposed Gardens
Advice on coping with a windswept garden ...
Hot, Dry Gardens
Design and planting tips for gardens in the hotter, drier parts of the country ...