The Q&A Archives: Western Climate Zones

Question: I m not sure what zone I'm in. We are at approximately<br>2500 foot elevation and we do receive some snow -- <br>occasionally we may get snowed in for a day, but usually we<br>have a dozen snow falls of maybe 3 to 6 inches maximum in<br>winter. We are approximately 60 miles northeast of <br>Sacramento in the foothills and the maps I look at I can't<br>tell where we are. <br>

Answer: According to the USDA zone map, it looks like you are located in USDA zone 7. The average annual minimum temperature in zone 7 is zero to 10 degrees above zero. Knowing your average minimum temperature can help you determine what plants will be hardy in your region. <br><br>However, as you surely know, microclimates can vary dramatically based on elevation, location in relation to mountain ranges, etc. Many western gardeners use Sunset zones--described in detail in the Sunset Western Garden Book (Kathleen N. Brenzel, ed., Sunset Publishing Co., Menlo Park, CA, 1995). Their system of determining zones is based on lots of factors--not just minimum temperatures--and is more useful in choosing plants that will thrive in your region. According to the book, it looks like you are in either Sunset zone 1 or Sunset zone 7, depending on how close you are to the mountains. (I couldn't find your town on the map.)

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