Microclimates: Tell us about yours!

I’m trying to understand microclimates beyond just the most well known few. Can anyone give any concrete examples of some in their yard & how much of a difference it makes?

Some examples I’ve come across thus far:

  1. Planting against the south side of a structure to protect from northern winds.
  2. Planting in shade to keep temperatures lower.
  3. Using thermal mass to store heat during the day and release it at night. Some examples: Ponds, water features, rocks & structures. What else will have thermal mass?
  4. High canopy trees that provide shade & wind protection.

The south side of my house definitely speeds up the growth of the flowers I have planted there compared to plantings in other portions of my yard.

I have wondered how large a pond would need to be to effect a change on the immediately adjoining land. I believe Olpea referenced how the Missouri River can affect land immediately to the east of its shore line. So I would think a large pond (a few acres) would also have some degree of impact.

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Wet soil has a significant thermal mass and affects temps on a synoptic scale. We usually will avoid freezes and frosts in the spring and fall after a good rain. I am not sure if it helps on the micro scale or not.

Does anyone else have a microclimate to share?!

Lower areas are colder and frost sooner. Called frost pockets. Cold air settles.

I have two microclimates in my yard. One next to the south wall of the house where the gas dryer exhaust vents out to. I have tulips here that come up in February. But if things get real bad with multiple nights in teens it could kill the tulip after they come up. So I don’t know how good of a microclimate it is.
Second one is next to a cement block raised bed. I have gerbera daisies (which aren’t hardy to my zone) growing. That spot seems to be the perfect spot for daisies. It’s not so warm that it promotes growth in February. But clearly it’s enough warmth to keep them alive through temps down to teens.

Pawpaws definitely don’t grow at my place but I do grow them next to a pond I created. They need additional water and benefit from the 1 1/2 acres of water that seems to help regulate temperatures. I also added large hills to grow sweet cherries since their roots are sensitive to water. I grow additional trees on the backside of my pond dam. The constant strong winds on my hilltop orchard where I grow my pears have saved my blooms many times from cold temperatures. Sometimes just a degree or two make the difference.

12°F at 10:00a in Sheboygan, WI. Snow on the way. More snow and more cold forecast. My confidence in the groundhog is ebbing fast.

I realize that spring has arrived in other areas of the country, and I have something to say about dealing with microclimates that, although premature for my season, has to be said now to be timely elsewhere.

“Old Michigan steams like a young man’s dreams.
Her islands and bays are for sportsmen.”

This is true in late summer. Here on the shore we have an extended autumn, but we do without spring entirely. One day in the middle of May, the wind will shift, and the apple trees will all burst into bloom at once. It’s the wind shift that does it. During most of May, there’s a low-level high pressure over the cold water of the lake that creates on-shore breezes. These don’t reach far – maybe only a few city blocks inland, but they are enough to keep my backyard dormant a week or two longer than the rest of the county.

The horizontal lines are the cumulative growing degree-days Fahrenheit predicted for first and second flights of codling moth. Although the dates of the first flight predicted by temperature data from the Sheboygan County Airport and that predicted by my backyard weather station were within a day of one another, the airport reached the egg-hatching stage by accumulating 250 growing degree-days in in 16 days, whereas my backyard weather station required 20 days. … so, because of microclimate bias, in 2018, I could afford to wait an extra four days to begin treatment.

Almost everyone is affected by some kind of microclimate bias from urban heat islands to hilly terrain. Thus, I am an advocate of backyard weather stations as can be seen on my codling moth tribute site:


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