How Regional Gardening Works

Creating a Regional Garden

Desert region gardens can still have colorful displays.
Desert region gardens can still have colorful displays.
VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/­Getty Images

­There are some general guidelines that apply to planning any regional garden. First, you need to understand a little bit about geology. The way the physical earth is shaped in your region, its elevation and proximity to water determine the quality of soil you're working with. Plants prefer different pH levels in the soil, and you might need to adjust your soil's acidity with fertilizer. The Piedmont region, for example, has rockier, more acidic soil since it's located along the foothills of the Appalachian mountain chain. Coastal areas, however, will have sandier soils.

Sunlight intensity and rainfall should also be accounted for. What amount of shade will cover your garden? How intense is the afternoon sun? Should you plant drought-resistant varieties to endure dry summers? The answers to questions like these will also inform what should go in your regional garden.

Then, of course, there's the actual region that you live in. The term "garden region" can be slightly misleading since there are many ways to define them. Some regions encompass multiple states and geographies. Better Homes and Gardens magazine, for instance, refers to six gardening regions in the United States:

  • Desert Southwest
  • Mountain West & High Plains
  • Northeast
  • Pacific Northwest
  • South
  • Southern California

The National Gardening Association, on the other hand, breaks them down further with 12 regions:

  • New England
  • Mid-Atlantic
  • Upper South
  • Middle South
  • Lower South
  • Coastal & Tropical South
  • Northern & Central Midwest
  • Northern California & Coastal Valleys
  • Southern California & Inland Valleys

Some states will designate multiple gardening regions within their borders as well. The University of Idaho Extension divides the state into northern, central, southeast and southwest growing regions. Yet, the entire state is contained within the National Gardening Association's Western Mountains and High Plains region.

For that reason, you can find a regional gardening handbook for nearly every state. If you're interested in planting a regional garden, you may want to consult state and regional horticulture resources for information on your local growing conditions. That plants most tailored to your region will often require the least amount of care and offer long-lasting enjoyment.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles

More Great Links


  • "Cold Hardiness Zones & Heat Zones As They Affect Your Landscape." Parker County Master Garden Association. (Dec. 12, 2008)
  • Glasener, Erica and Reeves, Walter. "Georgia Gardener's Guide." Cool Springs Press. 2004. (Dec. 12, 2008)
  • "Idaho's Growing Regions." Idaho Landscapes & Gardens. University of Idaho Extension. (Dec. 12, 2008)
  • O'Malley, Therese and Treib, Marc. "Regional Gardening Design in the United States." Dumbarton Oaks. 1995. (Dec. 12, 2008)
  • "The Regional Garden section of the National Garden." U.S. Botanical Garden. (Dec. 12, 2008)
  • "USDA Hardiness Zone Finder." National Gardening Association. (Dec. 12, 2008)