This is a good time of year to be talking about the syndrome of microclimates-or variations in temperatures that exist not only between villages or cities but what can happen on your own property. A microclimate can be as small as a courtyard or patio next to a building or as large as encompassing an area several miles inland from Lake Ontario, which moderates temperatures.

This is a good time of year to be talking about the syndrome of microclimates-or variations in temperatures that exist not only between villages or cities but what can happen on your own property. A microclimate can be as small as a courtyard or patio next to a building or as large as encompassing an area several miles inland from Lake Ontario, which moderates temperatures.

In your yard, temperatures can be warmer behind the barn, around the foundation, behind a shrub border or tall evergreen tree planting. Locating plants in these areas can help soften the wind and thus keep the temperature moderated a few degrees both in winter and summer. This is due to the fact that your home and outbuildings absorb heat during the day and radiate it back at night. If the prevailing winds on your site are from the northwest, this will create a warmer, more sheltered microclimate on the south and east sides of your home.

Be advised that while the north side of your home may receive the blunt of the wind and lack of sun during the winter, in the summer when the sun rises north of east and sets north of west, these areas can be stressed by high heat and dried out by the same prevailing winds.

Speaking of wind, higher wind currents are created as the wind blows around your home or other buildings. Plants exposed in corner plantings, can be very stressed by this wind current and become desiccated (dried out) in winter from lack of moisture from frozen soils. Selecting plants that will tolerate this winter condition, which may include using deciduous plants rather than evergreens in these sites, may save aggravation later. Another remedy is to construct burlap barriers around exposed plants thereby decreasing wind damage. In the summer, to prevent desiccation of plants, provide ample water and mulch the planting beds with two inches of mulch, leaving a two-inch area around plant stems free of mulch.

Balconies tend to escape frosts that kill tender plants at ground level and raised beds and terraces can warm up and drain earlier in the spring than other locations around your yard and garden. Paved areas, like patios, driveways, sidewalks and even extensive stone retaining walls, can absorb heat and radiate it at night, which moderates nighttime temperatures close by.

Soil types can also affect frost. Clay soils can act in the same manner as paved surfaces causing temperatures to moderate near the ground. Lighter, well drained soils which have many pore spaces in them, can act as an insulating layer on top of warmer sub-soils, capturing that heat below ground which makes the site more susceptible to frosts at ground level.

When looking for planting sites around your home microclimates should be considered. They can lead to planting successes or failures. Also this season, why not invest in some basic weather equipment like a maximum/minimum temperature gauge, a rain gauge, and a barometer so you can have fun charting weather fluctuations and measuring the rainfall in microclimates around your home.