You may have heard the term microclimate being used in various gardening discussions. This week, we’ll delve into what exactly the term means and what modifications you can make to change the microclimate in your own garden.
A microclimate includes the features in the immediate surroundings of a plant. These features are used to modify the local climate and conditions experienced by the plant. Examples of microclimate features can include the following:
- Proximity to a body of water (or other heat store)
- Shelter (protection from sun or wind)
- Shade (shade produces cooler and more humid areas)
- Altitude (increases in altitude correspond with decreases in temperature)
- Air Drainage (depressions can cause air stagnation, increasing susceptibility to diseases)
- Wind breaks (protected plants are less likely to be damaged by very strong winds)
- Plant groupings (plants the middle of groupings are buffered from extreme conditions by outer plants)
All of these factors taken together affect the microclimate of a plant or garden. A microclimate can be as small as your backyard or larger like a specific region with different characteristics and changes in features. Microclimates can change over very small distances and can be further changed by gardeners using things like cold frames, polytunnels, dark coloured mulches, and winter burlap protection.