New England typically includes the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Weather varies dramatically from state to state and season to season. However, generally speaking, this region enjoys 4 distinct seasons characterized by short springs, hot and humid summers, along the coasts but cool in the mountains, cool falls, and long and harsh winters with heavy snow and sometimes ice storms.

The frost free growing season ranges from 120 to 180 days with the last frost dates ranging from April end (along the coast) to early June (in the mountains) and the first frost dates starting as early as September until the end of October.

How to extend the growing season and life of your plants in New England

You may want to slightly modify the growing conditions in your garden to help your plants thrive year after year and enjoy them longer. Here are a few basic gardening tips:

Block damaging winter winds with fences, burlap or windbreaks.

Plant your heat-loving perennials and shrubs near hard structures of stone or concrete (such as buildings) as they emit heat and raise the air temperature

Apply mulch around the plant roots (woodchips, evergreen needles or any other organic mulch) to keep them cooler and moist in summer and warmer in winter

Apply winter mulch to keep your soil temperature stable throughout the winter and protect your plants (straw, evergreen boughs, marsh hay). This will help reduce variations in soil temperatures that could stress your plants, prevent early sprouting after a temporary rise in temperatures, reduce moisture loss from winter wind or sun. Did you know that snow is a reliable winter mulch which protects your plants?

Provide frost protection to enjoy your plants longer. Use cold frames to get a jump on the growing season and to extend it by several weeks. Alternatively, you may want to start your seeds indoors, several weeks before they can be planted in the ground. Another option would be to use season-extending fabrics. Simply plant your frost-sensitive plants outside a few weeks before your last spring frost date and cover them with this season-extending fabric. They will be protected from spring frost and kept warm. Remove the season-extending fabric once the danger of frost has passed. Similarly, you may want to use these covers in the fall to protect your plants from the first fall frost and enjoy them longer.

If your growing season is short, select early blooming plants. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a long growing season, pick early, midseason and late flowering plants to enjoy their colorful blooms longer.

Underplant your trees and shrubs with a ground cover