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Southwestern Gardening Zone 5

Updated on September 10, 2013

Share My Love of Gardening

Please enjoy the tips and information for gardening in Zone 5 and arid climates. Share the beauty of a wonderous garden. I will have general information, information addressing specific gardening problems, xeriscape, rock gardens and more.

I have been gardening, in some way, for over twenty years. I started with container gardens when I lived in a townhome. I really caught the gardening bug when I moved into a newly built home. It had nothing but weeds, a rock wall, 10x10 cement patio and a front sidewalk.

I asked so many questions at my local nursery (and basically lived at the nursery), that the owner eventually hired me. Guess that's one way to take care of a garden pest...or should that be gardener pest?

I have to say, I find gardening relaxing and therapeutic. There is a certain zen experience about digging in the soil. I know the hardwork I put into it will be rewarded with beautiful blooms and satisfaction.

I hope what I share will help you catch the gardening bug too.

Basic Tools You Will Need - Being prepared will make your gardening experience better

I use my tool tote and pack it with the items and tools I know I will need for the task at hand. It saves having to make numerous trips to the garage and helps me get into the zen of the gardening. I always go out with a good pair of gloves, shovel, trowel, clippers for deadheading, and a hori knife to tackle stubborn roots or trimming woody or tough plants.

Median Rock Garden
Median Rock Garden

Plant a Garden; Plant Some Hope

Southwestern gardening presents its own challenges. The growing season is short, the soils tend to be sandy or clay mixed with rocks, the summers are dry and the winters are harsh. Not the ideal for gardening bliss.

Why would anyone try to garden in a desert or harsh mountainous terrain? Because when something works you get a sense of accomplishment and pride.

You know you had to pick the right plant, amend the soil, allow for the correct water and sun exposure, and run out to protect your babies every time they were threatened by hail or high winds.

Despite the hard work, expense, sweat and scraped knuckles, gardening is a worthy pursuit. It is odd, but I consider it one of my greatest contributions to society.

In August, I received an anonymous note on my front door thanking me for my garden. I frequently have people stop and view the front gardens during their daily walks. I've seen children on their hands and knees smelling the flowers in the gardens (sometimes they pick a few for their mom). I plant enough, so as long as they don't destroy the plants, I have no problem with sharing.

In a world filled with economic turmoil, civil unrest, war and uncertainty, it is my way of reminding people there is still hope.

Visit me at https://www.facebook.com/FourthEstateGal for additional gardening articles on zone 5 in Colorado.

Know Your Zone - (Don't Worry, it's Easy)

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Tackle first things first. Before you make a plan for your yard or plant any plants, you will need to determine your gardening zone.

Knowing your zone will help you select the right plants for your garden. There are other considerations before you buy plants, but knowing your zone is the first step.

Don't stress here, you will determine your zone by looking at a zone map or asking your local nursery. It is my experience that the most commonly used zone map in the United States is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. Most plant labels, books and magazines refer to the USDA zone map.

Another helpful zone map is produced by the American Horticultural Society (AHS). It is a heat zone map. While the USDA map focuses on plant hardiness at minimum temperatures, the AHS map focuses on heat extremes. In areas (like Colorado), it is helpful to know both extremes. You will be able to select the hardiest plants to fit the temperature extremes in your garden. You can visit the American Horticultural website at American Horticultural website to get additional information.

No matter which zone map you are using, they all give you information regarding average temperatures and the length of the growing season in your area. You'll want to compare this information to your plant label. The plant label will not always give you the plant zone, but will normally provide you with the temperature range, light requirements, water requirements along with the average height and spread of the plant.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is not copyrighted and is in the public domain.

Reference to American Horticultural Society and link to website used with written permission from AHS, all rights reserved and may not be reproduced without written permission.

Need Some Great Ideas - Great Books to Get You Started

I love reading about gardening (and seeing photos of my dream gardens) almost as much as gardening. Here's some you may wish to keep handy.

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Know Your Microclimate

(Yes, there's more to zones)

Within each general zone, like zone 5, there are microclimates. Zone 5 can be a 5a or a 5b. The USDA map shows zone 5 has average minimum termperatures of -20 F to -10 F degrees (-28.8 to -23.4 degrees C). In microclimate zone 5a these tempuratures are 5 degrees colder and in 5b they are 5 degrees warmer.

By keeping a gardening journal and calendar for my garden, I discovered my zone was actually 5a. No wonder my plants bloomed a few weeks after they bloomed in yards less than a mile away. Because my home sits up on a hill, and is not protected by any foothills or bluffs, I got more snowfall and lower temperatures due to wind chill.

Every gardener becomes a bit of a weather watcher. Just like a mother bundles up their kids before sending them off to school, you will find yourself bundling up your plants too.

Know Your Zone Poll

Red Sage photo by Jeri Baker
Red Sage photo by Jeri Baker

Did You Research Your Zone

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What readers are saying about Southwestern Gardening Zone 5

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    • Sitabodang LM profile image

      Sitabodang LM 3 years ago

      Great Lens!

    • profile image

      happynutritionist 4 years ago

      It is that time of year again, and I'm behind in my gardening. Everything is coming up on it's own including the weeds...lol. Have been so focused on redoing a room in the house. But this is the week I have to get out there...I'm in the Northeast.

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 4 years ago

      @Virginia Allain: Thank you for visiting and commenting on this lens. Right now, we are dealing with a drought. We've had very little moisture this winter and I'm doing winter watering.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      I've gardened in a lot of different zones over the years (KS, FL, OH, TX, NH, MD, and Australia). It really is crucial to know which one you are in and what is appropriate to grow there.

    • aviwolfson profile image

      Avi Wolfson 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful lens, well done!

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 4 years ago

      @CoolBabyStuff: Thanks for the lovely comment.

    • CoolBabyStuff profile image

      CoolBabyStuff 4 years ago

      Great gardening lens. Beautiful!

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love this lens. thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Love this lens. thanks for sharing.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I really love what you shared about gardening being one of your major contributions to society. It's a beautiful living legacy that truly enriches the spirit. The note you received was very touching. Such a thing is rare, so it shows the difference you are making in the lives of others. Thank you for you!

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 5 years ago

      Excellent advice; not planting to your zone usually leads to disappointment.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      A very nice informative article about the Southwestern gardening zone 5. I had not considered the micro-climates before. That is very helpful. I love gardening, I get that from my Grandmother I think. There is just something remarkably spiritual about putting your hands into the earth. One of my favorite quotes is: Life began in a garden.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Ah, feeling quite jolly in the Southeastern Zone today as I remark, herein ... "No, I'm a fly-by-the-seat of my pants gardener." Happy Holidays!

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @Gypzeerose: That's funny.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Aha! This is why my plants don't come up! :)

    • jeremecausing profile image

      Jereme Causing 5 years ago from Philippines

      gardening is very relaxing:)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Having lived in Ottawa, Canada for years, I do check the zone of any plant I get.

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thanks for checking back on my updates.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Quite good! Looking forward to more in the future. :)

    • Jeri Baker profile image
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      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm working on them. Thanks for dropping by to see this one.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      looking forward to reading more lenses.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 5 years ago

      Very interesting topic and well done for first lens. I know how arid your zone must be so I am looking forward to more good gardening tips from you. Hugs

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @bosieboy: Thank you for visiting!

    • bosieboy profile image

      bosieboy 5 years ago

      Excellent start on your first lens - keep up the good work!

    • Jeri Baker profile image
      Author

      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @wolfie10: Thanks.

    • wolfie10 profile image

      wolfie10 5 years ago

      very nice start for you. lots of people like gardening and looking for info

    • Jeri Baker profile image
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      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thanks Josh

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Welcome! Wonderful first lens! :)

    • Jeri Baker profile image
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      Jeri Baker 5 years ago

      @Paul Ward: Thank you for visiting.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Hi, welcome to Squidoo and SquidU - goodl uck for a long and happy time here.