How Microclimates Impact Lawn Care Schedules | TruGreen

What Are Microclimates and How Do They Affect Lawn Care Schedules?

By TruGreen December 20, 2023
Home with a shaded lawn

What Are Microclimates and How Do They Affect Lawn Care Schedules?

When we talk about the climate, it’s usually in fairly broad terms. The Southeast, for example, tends to be hot and humid, the Northwest, cool and wet. While this isn’t incorrect, it doesn’t take into account microclimates: smaller areas with unique weather patterns or conditions not commonly seen in the greater region. They may not seem relevant from a macro perspective, but microclimates can have a pretty big influence on your lawn care schedule. Identifying a microclimate can be tricky, which is one of the many reasons we recommend leaving your lawn care to a local TruGreen® expert, who can tailor treatments to suit your lawn’s unique needs. But still, as they say, knowledge is power. So keep reading to learn more about the different types of microclimates, how they can be identified and what living in a microclimate can mean for your outdoor living space.

What Is a Microclimate?

The most accepted microclimate definition is the climate of a very small or restricted area that differs in some way from the surrounding area

What’s fascinating about microclimates is they can be as large as a town or as small as a damp, shady patch in your backyard garden. They’re shaped by the same three conditions as any climate is affected by: sunlight, temperature and humidity. Other factors that can contribute to the creation of a microclimate include elevation, the presence of bodies of water, soil type and exposure to wind.

Types of Microclimates

Microclimates are generally defined based on where they occur. Urban areas are often considered microclimates (for reasons we’ll get into below) but microclimates can also be in a specific region. Ahead, we’ll discuss each type, provide examples of microclimates and explain what can cause them to form.

Lawn Microclimates

It may seem far-fetched, but your lawn can have its own microclimate (or several, depending on its layout). Areas that get full, direct sunlight will almost always be the warmest and driest because the warmth from the sun causes moisture to evaporate rapidly. Partially shaded areas will be cooler and slightly damper, while shady areas under or near trees, shrubs or other vegetation tend to be the coolest and dampest. Your soil composition also plays a role in determining the microclimates of your lawn, with loose, sandy soils displaying the biggest variations in temperature. Knowing this is important because those shady, humid parts of your lawn will likely require different care than hot, dry areas that get full sun.

Urban Microclimates

Densely packed urban areas frequently experience higher temperatures than the less-populated regions that surround them, making cities a common type of microclimate. The phenomenon even has its own name: cities that are warmer than the surrounding regions are known as urban heat islands. But what is it about cities that make them microclimates, exactly? Generally, it’s a confluence of factors. For one, cities have more people than suburban and rural areas. More people means more emissions, which raises the air temperature. Cities also have an abundance of high-rise buildings, which limit airflow and, in turn, lead to higher temperatures. The reflection of sunlight off of those high-rise buildings can also contribute to warmer-than-expected temperatures. Finally, urban areas tend to have less greenery than rural regions. Vegetation — think trees and shrubs — naturally helps cool the environment, which is part of the reason why urban areas tend to be warmer than greener spaces.

Regional Microclimates

Geographic features — such as mountains, hills, lakes and forests — can have a significant impact on the climate conditions of a given region. Areas at a higher altitude tend to be cooler than lower-lying areas; while bodies of water can increase the humidity in the immediate area surrounding them. Similarly, forests and woods, full of dense vegetation, can decrease the air temperature slightly. Having any of these features in an area can therefore create a microclimate with weather conditions that differ from those in the surrounding area.

How Do Microclimates Impact Your Lawn Care Schedule?

While knowing what causes microclimates to form is helpful, it’s also important to understand what that means for your lawn care schedule. Timing is critical when it comes to lawn care: if you apply treatments at the wrong time, you may not get the full benefits of the treatment. Similarly, areas with different microclimates will naturally have different needs. A more cool, damp part of your yard may not require as frequent watering as areas that get full sun. Meanwhile, drier spots may be more vulnerable to specific lawn diseases that cooler, shadier regions aren’t likely to see. If your lawn care plan doesn’t take into account these nuances, your lawn may not get the care it needs to look its very best. It’s a lot to take into consideration — especially when you’re just trying to enjoy your lawn to the fullest. 

So skip the guesswork. TruGreen’s local lawn care experts can customize a lawn care plan that addresses your specific needs. Whether it’s aeration and overseeding, seasonal fertilization or an all-encompassing plan to maintain your lawn’s health and vigor, we’re here to help make your outdoor living space the best it can be. Get started today and see what we can do for you.

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