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Jacob_Valleau
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sunset zones

how do I find out what sunset zone I am?

I found the map, but there are too many hoo-ha and stuff, I don't know exactly where my specific area is..or anything...

is there a place where I can enter my zip code and it will tell me?

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

Unfortunately, there isn't any online map (at least, not that I've found) of the Sunset zones. And some zip codes actually lie within two or three Sunset zones, so that isn't definitive, either.

Sunset views their zone system as proprietary (with reason), and the maps in the books are the only place I've seen them.

Where do you live? Not just your town, but the physical situation of the town with regard to the landscape. That's the way to know. If you live near a boundary of two zones or a confluence of three or more, you'll need to be aware of nearby geographic landmarks such as prevailing winds, hills vs. flat land, bodies of water, etc.

Once you've narrowed it down to perhaps two zones, read the full description of each potential zone in the relevant Sunset book (either the Western Garden Book or the National Garden Book). One of these will ring truer than the other for your particular location.

Even Sunset is careful to remind people about micro-climates. However, in their context, "micro-climates" aren't just the areas around your house that may be warmer or cooler than others. Sunset uses the term to mean "small neighborhood variations" within the same zone.

For instance, when we lived in Berkeley, we were in Sunset Zone 17. Now that we're in El Cerrito, we're still in Zone 17, BUT...the growing conditions in our yard are cooler and windier than they were previously.

Why?

Our house is two stories. The addition built next door is also two stories. Our plantable dirt lies along the driveway, between the two two-story houses, which create a wind tunnel between them, especially when the afternoon fog starts coming in. It positively RUNS from west to east in our driveway. So our veggies, roses, etc. are subject to higher winds and cooler temps than our plants were in Berkeley.

Hope this helps.

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

TheLorax
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Sunset zones are superior to the USDA hardiness zones. Not superior to other tools available though.

Here's a link to determine one's sunset zone-
https://www.sunset.com/sunset/garden/article/1,20633,845218,00.html
Last edited by TheLorax on Wed Jul 23, 2008 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cynthia_h
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Thx, Lorax: I stand corrected!

That IS a good, albeit simplified, map. Unfortunately, areas with complicated geography, like the SF Bay Area and Puget Sound, have had entire zones left out. There's only so much, after all, that'll fit onto a fixed-scale webpage...

But if you live in a less geographically complicated place, e.g., Wyoming, Michigan, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida--all of which have only two or three Sunset zones for the entire state--the on-line map is perfect.

Just for fun, here's the entire Zone 17 description from the Sunset Book:

"The climate in this zone features mild, wet, almost frostless winters and cool summers with frequent fog or wind. on most days and in most places, the fog tends to come in high and fast, creating a cooling and humidifying blanket between the sun and the earth, reducing the intensity of thelight and sunshine. Some heat-loving plans (Citrus, hibiscus, gardenia) don['t get enough heat to fruit or flower reliably.

"In a 20-year period, the lowest winter temperatures in Zone 17 ranged from 36 to 23 deg F (2 to -5 deg C). The lowest temperatures on record range from 30 to 20 deg F (-1 to -7 deg C). Of further interest in this heat-starved climate are the highs of summer, normally in the 60 to 75 deg F (16 to 24 deg C) range. The average highest temperature in Zone 17 is only 97 deg F (36 deg C). In all the other adjacent climate zones, average highest temperatures are in the 104 to 116 deg F (40 to 47 deg C) range."

The accompanying graphic shows growing season from early March through early December (three months of no growth).

Photo caption says: "Zone 17's climate is dominated by the ocean about 98 percent of the time. You can see salt water from most areas in this zone, such as Pacific Grove (above), where mounding aloes and agaves with tall flower spikes bloom at the water's edge. This climate also favors fuchsias and commercially grown artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and Easter lilies."

I'm interested to know what "other tools" are also superior to the USDA hardiness zones.

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

TheLorax
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Not just superior, far superior.

You just summed up why I prefer to use ecoregions combined with biological indicators.

Basic overview here-
https://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/ecoframe-list.htm

Level III works best for me for basic decision making-
https://www.epa.gov/wed/pages/ecoregions/na_eco.htm#Level%20III

When I need to get down to the nitty gritty to deal with the savanna and wetlands here, I use The Nature Conservancy's GIS Website. Other than that, my property is actually dissected. I'm in a transition zone.

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smokensqueal
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Location: St. Louis, MO Metro area

What is a sunset zone? Where is it used? Who uses it? I've only heard about it a few times on this and one other gardening site but never heard of it out side of that.

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hendi_alex
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Just Google it! Can usually answer about 90 percent of your questions in under one minute.

https://www.sunset.com/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,845218,00.html

cynthia_h
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applestar: I have revived this thread so that more Sunset climate zone info can be in one place here at THG.

Zone 32 is very widespread. Such "small" towns and "nowhere" places as Knoxville, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Columbia, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Petersburg, Lynchburg, Richmond, Charlottesville, Alexandria, Arlington, Annapolis, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, and Trenton are in it. (Please note the order in which I have listed these cities: they make a great arc around the southern end of the Appalachian/Piedmont/Blue Ridge mountains and continue north along the uplands of the Atlantic Seaboard, moving towards the shore as the latitude increases.)

You might have heard of the other relatively well-known 'burg in Zone 32--Washington, D.C. :wink:

A key sentence from Sunset: "This is also the northernmost climate in which vegetables, flowers, and woody plants can be planted in fall as well as in spring."

Sound more like where you live?

Cynthia

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applestar
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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Heh. Good to know it was OK to plant fruit trees and such in the fall, 'cause I planted a LOT of them this fall. 8)
It's also encouraging that the SSZ 32 extends through areas of Virginia where there are several nurseries that I either already like or have been looking at as possible sources. :D
Thanks! :wink:

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