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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Microclimates Have Profound Effects on Gardens

Q. I live in North Las Vegas and am considering a vegetable garden in my backyard when I retire in January of ’16.  I have adequate space on east or west side of the house.  However, the west side has a high wall that blocks off the afternoon sun. Which side would be best for the garden?

Shade can have a dramatic effect on the temperature/humidity/light
microclimate of a yard.
A. I think of growing areas in the yard in terms of microclimates. It sounds like you may have two different microclimates going on; the warmer but shadier west side and the cooler east side.
I would consider having growing beds on both sides if they are significantly different in their environments. These two different microclimates can extend your production by a couple of weeks or more in the spring and fall; earlier spring and later fall production in the hotter microclimate and later spring and earlier fall production in the cooler one.

Reflected light also counts as light that the benefits plants as long as it is bright enough. I would not discount the west area simply because you have a wall on the west side. I would consider painting these walls to reflect more light or cover their surfaces for the same reason.

Think back when you have been in both of those areas and your impressions regarding their different microclimates. Was one microclimate quite a bit different in seasonal temperatures than the other? If these microclimates are so similar you do not get any advantage then I would put it on the east side. 

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