Creating an attractive garden means more than coordinating colors and selecting eye-catching varieties. Aesthetics don't mean much if weather conditions wild, freeze, or decay tender plants.
Climate maps, such as the United States Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone map, show low-temperature extremes by Zone. Choose plants best adapted to your Zone and plant them at the right time to increase your chance of success.
Use climate maps as a general guide; many microclimates may exist within a 1-mile radius of your home. Even within your yard, variations in exposure and topography can affect plants.
In 2012, the USDA updated the map with newer data and increased technologies. Using the USDA Web site, you can now access an interactive map that lets you zoom into an area and view changes in Zones by half-mile increments.