How to Determine Your Gardening Zone
Your plants may have known it long before gardening maps declared it: the weather is a little toastier than it used to be. There are 13 gardening zones. Each zone inched northward on USDA's last update. However, after a very frigid winter, your zone may temporarily inched back the other way. To be sure, check with your local garden center, they should have a master gardener on staff to tell you what's right for your area. Or check your state's agricultural or cooperative extension office for more information.
A half-zone change can make a big difference in your garden. You may be able to grow plants that used to be too tender for your region; on the other hand, a plant that requires a certain amount of cold in the winter may not make it in your yard. Check plant tags before you buy; the zone information is spelled out as a range — for example, USDA Zones 5 to 8.
You can determine your gardening zone at the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture website. You can either enter your ZIP code or, for even more precision, use the interactive map to click down to within a half-mile of your home.