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Constructing a Powerful Microclimate


buffy
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This seemed to be the place to do this. I'm in a historical Zone 8a location. The drawing attached shows a majority of my 0.5 acre tract I've acquired on the East of my original lot. I'm in the process of remodeling my existing house to the West and adding these goodies to the East. Moving from West(top) to East(bottom) you will see my new L-shaped pool followed by a pool house. To the north of the pool house is my new green house (Yes!). To the South of the pool house you see a slither of green which represents a bed of Grey Henon Bamboo. Here are my thoughts:

1. The pool will be my main heat sink. I have completely overkilled the size of the heater on this pool. On cold polar nights (ideally radiational freezes), I will heat that thing up to the 90s (gas bill be damned). I have a retractable pool cover on the thing too.

2. The bamboo and the buildings will cut down on advective effects.

3. Gas lines are mounted everywhere. I'll run a couple of torpedo heaters on the cold night too.

4. As you can see from the topography, I'm on hillside.

5. My neighborhood is heavily wooded with old growth pine and hardwoods.

6. All of my plantings will be downwind of the heat sources. That seemed logical. I'd like to plant things closer to the pool, but my wife won't allow that. I may try to plant the Jubutygrus next to the pool with some negotiation.

Before these additions, I've always been 3F-4F warmer than the weather station at the airport. My thermometer is mounted a wooden fort in the middle of our lot away from any buildings at a height of 7'.

What do y'all think the opportunities are for this microclimate. Another 3F-4F possible?

post-60-1232637474_thumb.jpg

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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I have no clue what the gains will be, but the plan sounds great! What program did you use for the landscape plan?

:) I scanned the house plans and used Microsoft's Paint. I'm pretty handy with MS Paint.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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I've added a new element to the design. Between the pool house and the heated pool, I'll be adding a 4 foot wide by 20 feet long bed. If I wanted to, I could probably make this a frost free zone; however, realistically, I wouldn't want to pay to heat the pool through all the freezes. So when temperatures are predicted to go below say 25F, I'll crank up the heaters. Even at that temperature, the microclimate should be good for a couple of degrees without the heaters. So basically, I should be able to plant some cool stuff.

Edited by buffy

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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Interesting stuff. I think that the idea of canopy is gonna be your best bet. Any areas between the house and the bamboo will be considerably warmer. But anything that get's out in the open is just gonna be the same. Except you're gonna run heaters so that pretty much makes it as warm as your budget allows. But as far as passive improvement goes, canopy and buildings are your saviors there. Good luck, I'd love to see some pics of the place when it's done.

Matt Bradford

"Manambe Lavaka"

Spring Valley, CA (8.5 miles inland from San Diego Bay)

10B on the hill (635 ft. elevation)

9B in the canyon (520 ft. elevation)

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I would think if you heated your pool to 90deg you would actually increase the risk of frost and freezes since the dew point of the hot air from the pool would be increased to a point that when it met the colder air, would release its moisture and thus setup a frosting on all the plants near the pool. Does your climate act like ours in Florida where you have a couple of really cold days and then back up into the 70s? Also have you checked to see what your ground temp is. Even through all the cold days, my ground temp never got below 60deg. I am on a lake and I would say it probably gave me a good 1-2deg rise from the higher water temp. It sounds interesting what you are proposing but I would definitely do some small prototype experiments to see if it really works they way you think it will. Good luck and keep us updated.

Ron

Wellington, Florida

Zone 11 in my mind

Zone 10a 9a in reality

13miles West of the Atlantic in Palm Beach County

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I would think if you heated your pool to 90deg you would actually increase the risk of frost and freezes since the dew point of the hot air from the pool would be increased to a point that when it met the colder air, would release its moisture and thus setup a frosting on all the plants near the pool. Does your climate act like ours in Florida where you have a couple of really cold days and then back up into the 70s? Also have you checked to see what your ground temp is. Even through all the cold days, my ground temp never got below 60deg. I am on a lake and I would say it probably gave me a good 1-2deg rise from the higher water temp. It sounds interesting what you are proposing but I would definitely do some small prototype experiments to see if it really works they way you think it will. Good luck and keep us updated.

I have the ability to go both ways on the moisture situation. I have a retractable cover if frost is a concern. That said, after you get a few degrees below zero, frost isn't the problem. It's the physical air that destroys everything. I'm fine with a plant covered in thick frost at 29F versus a frost free plant at 19F.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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What about running tubing in the soil around the plants and run hot water through it, like the heated floors in houses. If you heat the pool maybe use the water from the pool for this.

Ive thought about doing this for zone 10 cycads in my zone 9. They are much lower to the ground than palms and should work

Edited by turfpro01
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You might want to consider soil heating cables. You could use a combination of the pool, cables and removable shelter to be able to respond to most any change in your area.

Let us know what you decide. Good luck!

David

Hollywood Hills West, Los Angeles, CA USA

Southwest facing canyon | Altitude 600 - 775 feet | Decomposing granite
USDA Zone 10b | AHS 6 | Sunset Zone 23 | Köppen Csb | No frost or freezes
Average Low 49 F°/9.4 C° | Average High 79 F°/28.8 C° | Average Rainfall 20"/50.8 cm

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You might want to consider soil heating cables. You could use a combination of the pool, cables and removable shelter to be able to respond to most any change in your area. Let us know what you decide. Good luck! David

The soil heating cables sound like a winner. The area will have some roof overhang anyway. Adding a blanket will make this pretty much bulletproof.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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Buffy,

Do you have any elevation changes that would affect heat flows up or down? If so, will you have any canopy effect using any of your plantings. You made a good point on planting things downwind of heat sources, but a windbreak, such as a bamboo hedge might reduce the wind effect as well, if that is your desire.

Good luck!

John Case

Brentwood CA

Owner and curator of Hana Keu Garden

USDA Zone 9b more or less, Sunset Zone 14 in winter 9 in summer

"Its always exciting the first time you save the world. Its a real thrill!"

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Buffy, Do you have any elevation changes that would affect heat flows up or down? If so, will you have any canopy effect using any of your plantings. You made a good point on planting things downwind of heat sources, but a windbreak, such as a bamboo hedge might reduce the wind effect as well, if that is your desire. Good luck!

The green band on the South side of the property is a bamboo windbreak. So, yes, a bamboo hedge is in place. The microclimate is 20' above the lowest point on the property. I'm trying to use every trick out there. The only thing missing is a domed roof.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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Buffy,

It looks like you have very well thought out plans, and you have spaced the palms nicely. This is where most people make mistakes as they don't have any plans and they just stick palms here and there without thinking how big they might get and how they might crowd each other. Most cold hardy palms grow to a good size, and have good sized trunks.

I notice you don't have any Butias listed. If you could find a nice silver/blue Butia of any kind, it might make a nice addition. Also I'm very partial to Chamaerops Var Cerifera. They make a nice show, either as an individual, or with a green background. I planted 2 about 3 years ago, and I"m surprisd how fast they have grown, but Chamaerops do very well in Calif. Also, if you have a wind protected spot with some midday shade, Rhapidophyllum makes a nice low growing show, and they are extreamly cold hardy. I see you have several cocoid hybrids. It will be interesting to see how they do in your climate.

Dick

Richard Douglas

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Buffy,

It looks like you have very well thought out plans, and you have spaced the palms nicely. This is where most people make mistakes as they don't have any plans and they just stick palms here and there without thinking how big they might get and how they might crowd each other. Most cold hardy palms grow to a good size, and have good sized trunks.

I notice you don't have any Butias listed. If you could find a nice silver/blue Butia of any kind, it might make a nice addition. Also I'm very partial to Chamaerops Var Cerifera. They make a nice show, either as an individual, or with a green background. I planted 2 about 3 years ago, and I"m surprisd how fast they have grown, but Chamaerops do very well in Calif. Also, if you have a wind protected spot with some midday shade, Rhapidophyllum makes a nice low growing show, and they are extreamly cold hardy. I see you have several cocoid hybrids. It will be interesting to see how they do in your climate.

Dick

It's funny you mentioned the Pindo, Blue Med. Fan and Needle palms. Examples of each can be found on the western part of the property surrounding the existing house. I'll also try a Paurotis palm against the south facing brick wall of house. I have a fabulous potted Silver Saw Palmetto. When this is all done, and I have a few years of growth, I'll share some photos. I also have a Tamaulipas Sabal under a live oak that's still a strap leaf. This is just one area of the project. And this is just one plant love. The bananas, hibiscus and gingers will also be pretty nutts in this yard. I'm crazy, you see. If it's weird. I want to grow it. My poor landscape architect suffers.

Thank you for looking over my plans Dick. You have exactly the kind of experience I respect with these matters.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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  • 6 months later...

Well. I'm finally far enough along in the project to start posting some pics of real things. The first photo is a picture from the upstairs balcony looking down at the new pool and poolhouse. To the right (south), you see the terraced beds. The top terrance contains bamboo planted in the spring. The terrace is completely contained, so in 5 year or so, that will be an impenetrable wall of Grey Henon Bamboo.

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The second picture shows a closer look at the front of the poolhouse. They're building the forms for the concrete. You'll notice a little sliver of bed along the brick columns. That's where my super microclimate goes. It will be french drained. Cool huh. :)

post-60-1249506784_thumb.jpg

In the third picture, I'm showing you the terrace just to the south of the poolhouse. I'm planting Sabal minor densely along the portion adjacent to the pool house. Fun fact. The Sabal minor are locally acquired from a little botanizing trip a few years back. Got to love my magic spade.

post-60-1249506857_thumb.jpg

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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Here are some views of behind the pool house. This is where my cold hardy "palminess" will get out of control. I mean, really, what would you do with 2 acres? Not plant palms?

post-60-1249508149_thumb.jpg

post-60-1249508224_thumb.jpg

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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Cool update! Keep us posted!

Matt Bradford

"Manambe Lavaka"

Spring Valley, CA (8.5 miles inland from San Diego Bay)

10B on the hill (635 ft. elevation)

9B in the canyon (520 ft. elevation)

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Very nice! I can't wait to see it once all the palms are planted.

Formerly Jeff in Costa Rica
 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Buffy,

That is a great project and I am sure it will look great when all put together.

dk

Don Kittelson

 

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Where the world´s largest Tropical Rainforest embraces the Greatest Rivers in the World. .

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  • 3 weeks later...
Nice spread.

Any progress?

Nothing of note. My big planting will be around April 15th. No need to plant palms that are running out of warm weather. I figured the big Jub could take care of itself. Most of the other stuff is just going pinnate.

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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  • 1 month later...

I've updated my plan a bit. I'm really trying to separate like things to give the layout some diversity. What I have displayed are mainly the large palms I have planned. Most of the small stuff will be filled in.

palmplan.jpg

Longview, Texas :: Record Low: -5F, Feb. 16, 2021 :: Borderline 8A/8B :: '06-'07: 18F / '07-'08: 21F / '08-'09: 21F / '09-'10: 14F / '10-'11: 15F / '11-'12: 24F / '12-'13: 23F / '13-'14: 15F / '14-'15: 20F / '15-'16: 27F / '16-'17: 15F / '17-'18: 8F / '18-'19: 23F / '19-'20: 19F / '20-'21: -5F / '21-'22: 20F

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