When should I plant a garden?

If you’ve decided to plant a garden, you probably want to get started right away! However, the amount of effort it takes, and ultimately your overall success, depends largely on where you live and the time of the year. Let’s quickly cover each season so you’ll know whether you can begin now or… if it would be best to be patient.

Spring Planting

March – April – May

Lilacs blooming in a spring garden

Spring is the ideal planting season for all areas, as it provides perfect conditions for root growth, and ample rainfall minimizes the need to water plants yourself. In cool gardens (USDA zone 7 and below), you’ll wait until the soil has thawed. After that, you have the rest of spring to work in. In warm climates (USDA zone 8 and above), you’ll want to get to the task on the early side of spring. This will ensure the plants get to benefit from the cool weather for as long as possible.

Summer Planting

June – July – August

A Reminiscent Coral rose blooming in the summer garden.

Summer is the most stressful time to plant, for both plants and people, in any region. Temperatures and sun intensity are high, which can cause heat and water stress, especially to plants that are trying to grow a good root system. In hot climates, summer planting should be avoided entirely. It is possible in cooler areas, however, you should follow these seven tips to reduce stress on summer-planted shrubs and perennials.

Fall Planting

September – October – November

Kodiak Fresh Diervilla with fall color foliage in the fall garden

Fall is a great time for planting in both cool and warm climates. In cool zones, get to the task at least six weeks before the ground freezes. Note that this isn’t when the first frost happens, but when the soil becomes unworkable and roots won’t be able to take up water and nutrients. In warm to hot areas, fall planting is recommended because it provides the longest possible time until the most stressful weather conditions – summer heat – return. Check out our fall planting FAQ blog here.

Winter Planting

December – January – February

Dormant hydrangeas and dogwood in a winter garden.

Winter planting isn’t an option for cool zone gardens, usually the temperatures are too low and the ground is frozen. However, winter planting in hot climates can be ideal. The cooler temperatures make it easier for plants to get established.

If it’s time to plant, you might be wondering how to choose plants and what else to consider. We’ve got resources to share! 

How to Choose the Right Shrub
Picking the Right Garden Color Scheme
The Difference Between Annuals, Perennials, Shrubs, Trees, Houseplants, and Bulbs?
5 Steps to Make a New Garden Layout

And if you’d simply like an easy planting, we’ve got 7 types of shrubs for beginners.

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Kristina Howley

I am all in when it comes to gardening. Almost every part of the experience delights me – new leaves emerging in spring, pollinators buzzing in summer, birds devouring berries in fall, and the somber beauty of seed heads in winter. Thanks to a background in horticulture and gardening my own clay-filled, flowery USDA zone 5b plot, I’ve learned plenty of practical things as well. I like sharing these joys and lessons with my fellow gardeners and soon-to-be gardeners any way I can.

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