You might be surprised to learn that your yard hosts a large variety of microclimates.
Microclimates are the localized conditions of temperature, moisture, sunlight, wind, soil, drainage patterns and other factors that make one site more suitable to some plants than others.
By figuring out what your microclimates are, you can select and manage plants far better than winging it with what “looks good”. Simply guessing about or ignoring these factors can mean increased pest and disease problems, more water consumption (and waste), and unproductive plants.
One easy way to learn more about the microclimates in your yard is to use your camera. Every few hours, take photos of your yard. This will show you sunlight exposure patterns, wind and dead air pocket trends, and problems you may not have suspected (such as a pesky squirrel).
Also, cardinal direction makes a big difference in microclimate. Northern and eastern exposure areas tend to be cooler and more moist, where western and southern exposures get more heat and dry out faster.
The University of California provides a worksheet you can use to help determine your microclimate.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!