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Ground vs. Air Temperature

Ground vs. Air Temperature

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I am a professed \"brown thumb\" attempting to make another go at gardening this year. Could you please tell me exactly what is \"ground temperature\"? I assume it isn\'t the same as air temperature, and every packet of seeds, garden bulb instructions, and gardening book state that I need to plant when the \"ground temperature\" is above a certain measure. Without buying a ground thermometer, is there a way to know how warm the ground is? I think this has been my downfall in the past. Thanks, Janet


The two temperatures are different you are correct. Air temperatures are measured at about 4.5 feet and ground temperatures are taken at the ground. Typically when you plant the ground needs to be thawed out and you need to take the temperature either at the soil or slightly into it.

The soil temperature at your house is going to be different than at another house say across town or even downtown. Depending on if your garden is in the shade or the sun, the readings can be quite different.

Although you don't want to buy a soil thermometer the good news is they are less than 10 dollars and will be good for many years. Perhaps you can call a friend with one and share? Also of note, the average last day of of freezing temperatures is April 30th.

The ground temperatures we take in weather aren't the same as soil temperatures. The AT ground temperatures reflect readings in the full sunshine. For example, some of the readings on the roads today from UDOT are in the 80's and 90's!!! (It's around 70 degrees outside KSL right now). Getting your hands on a soil thermometer is your best bet. Good luck with the gardening and hopefully this year you will have better results.

Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.

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