When is the Right Time to Plant a Garden?

Deciding when to start planting your garden can be a difficult decision. There isn't one right answer - but instead it depends on where you live, what you're planting, and a little luck with the weather.

These ideas can help you know if it's time to break out the gardening gloves.

  • Plant by region - The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers a Plant Hardiness Zone Map where you can enter your ZIP Code to determine what zone your area is in. There are 10 zones within the U.S. and Canada; each zone is determined based on average temperatures within that locale. Plants available for sale will have their suggested zones listed on their tags, so you'll know whether the plant you're selecting is right for the area where you live. Seed packets also include this zone information.
  • Watch the weather - A general rule of thumb when it comes to planting is to wait until after the last spring frost. There's no set time, though, for when that final frost will come. Often the weather pattern for the previous year, including when the last frost occurred, can help you decide your garden planting schedule.
  • Pick the right seed - Some seeds thrive even within the cold ground, while others need warmth to grow well.
    • Early spring plants that can be grown from seed as soon as the ground is workable include:
      • Vegetables - onions, peas and spinach
      • Flowers - violas, pansies, primroses, dormant shrubs and trees
    • Early spring plants that can be grown before the final frost include:
      • Vegetables - lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, broccoli, celery, seed potatoes and kale
      • Flowers - nemesia, diascia and dormant or leafed out shrubs and trees
    • Late spring seeds that can be planted once the threat of frost is past include:
      • Vegetables - corn, melons, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, beans and pumpkins
      • Flowers - any perennial plants, trees or shrubs, and summer blooming bulbs


The Dirt from Troy-Bilt®, March/April 2014