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7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Plant A Garden

By June 20, 2023March 26th, 2024Landscape Design
front landscape flowerbed with stone enclosure

So you’re ready to improve your landscape! And you’re excited about adding new gardens that will bloom and grow and make your home worthy of a magazine cover. You’ve probably been tempted by the myriad colors on display at your local nursery or big box store. You may even be itching to pick up a shovel and go.

We’ve got one word for you: stop!

If you really want a fantastic garden, these are some important questions you should answer first – questions that should lead to thinking, and thinking that should lead to planning!

zen gardenWhat kind of garden do you want?

Hang on, didn’t you just say you wanted a garden? Isn’t that all about the flowers and greenery?

Well… it can be. But it can be more, too!

In addition to flower gardens, you may opt for an edible garden, whether herbs, vegetables, or fruit trees.

Perhaps you would enjoy the peaceful effect of a natural stone garden, or the serenity of a Zen garden.

Broaden your definition of a garden to include other features, too, like water bubblers and columns, artwork and décor, lighting and even audio. Once you’ve got your imagination working, you can begin to plan the garden that suits you best.

And don’t limit yourself to one! You can have a vegetable garden and a flower garden and a water garden, too, it’s just a matter of laying it out and understanding how they’ll all work together to bring joy and harmony to your space.

Shade Gardening: How To Create Beautiful Landscapes In Low LightWhat’s the 411 on sun and shade?

Whether you’ve got a big open expanse of space, a wooded area, or something in between, it’s important to know what you’re working with. Plenty of plants and flowers do spectacularly in bright sun, but would wilt in heavy shade. And other plants that would otherwise crisp up in the sun are perfectly suited to shade gardens.

Don’t fight it – work with it!

With so many options to choose from when it comes to blooms or other elements like natural stone and water features, you can take advantage of just about any space. Not only should you know how much shade and sun your yard gets, but what time of the day it gets it, and for how long.

A good master plan will help you figure out the particulars so you can choose plants and other options to make the most of your space.

Spill Bowl Container GardensWhat topographical challenges do you have?

There isn’t a whole lot of “perfect” when it comes to yards. Some are flat as pancakes while others slope wildly. Soil can be rocky, sandy, or clay-like. You might live in a dry area or get so much water you could swim in your front yard on a rainy day. You may be plagued with a lot of stone under the soil, or hardly any soil at all!

None of these things should make you worry!

There is a way to manage all of that, however challenging. Wet or dry, great soil or grit, you’re bound to find a plant that will do well under those conditions.

Erosion on sloping ground can be managed with tiers, retaining walls, and smart planting. Dry spaces can be irrigated with natural options like rainwater harvesting, which can not only add a beautiful element to your space, but will also conserve resources. A wet area may be the perfect spot for a water garden, with flowers and other plants in drier surroundings.

If not? You can always plant outside the ground.

Container gardens are a great option when you’ve got a wholly uncooperative space. Everything from flowers and trees to edible plants can thrive in containers. Choose planters, urns, and pots of different sizes and shapes, in complementary colors, and they can be just as much a part of the garden aesthetic as the plants themselves.

butterfly coneflowerWho’s coming for dinner?

No, we’re not talking about the in-laws. We’re talking about those adorable but usually unwelcome dinner guests like deer, rabbits and other hungry critters.

Your pansies and daylilies are going to suffer if you frequently host deer, so consider other, less appetizing options. You won’t have to compromise on beauty – plenty of plants don’t scream “buffet!” like dahlias and tulips do.

Hydrangea, lavender, and red twig dogwood, to name a mere few, will add color, texture and even four seasons of interest to your garden without becoming appetizers.

Knowing the wildlife you have to contend with will help you choose plants, shrubs and trees that will last. As an added bonus, you can plan to attract other beneficial wildlife, like birds, bees and butterflies.

How To Attract (The Right) Bugs To Your Garden

What will your garden look like in a year… or five or twenty?

Whether you live in a generational home that will eventually be passed down to your children and theirs, or you simply plan to enjoy your home for as long as possible, it’s a smart idea to plan ahead.

New gardens aren’t going to look as lush as one that has been established, and that’s a good thing!

If you plant too much, too closely together, your garden may look great in its first year, but it’s going to turn into a mess a lot more quickly than you think. It’s tempting to want to see a gorgeous space filled with color and greenery, but exhibiting a bit of patience will pay off.

Leave enough space that when your plants fill in, they won’t overtake and strangle each other, competing for water and soil.

If you’re planting something with an extensive root system, don’t plant it too closely to a walkway or patio. Similarly, if you’re planting a new tree, consider how it might block a window or view a few yeas down the line.

A master plan will help you account for short and long term possibilities, and create a garden that grows and evolves beautifully over time.

Spotlight On: Fothergilla, From Flirty Flowers To Fall FabulousnessWhat will happen next season?

If you plant things to look great in spring, what happens when summer rolls in? How about fall? And will your garden hold up through the coldest winter months or will it look bare and dismal?

No garden will look the same from season to season, and we certainly wouldn’t expect a full complement of blooms in the middle of January, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy color, texture, sound, motion, and yes, even some blooms.

The key to a successful – and gorgeous – garden is twofold.

First, stagger plantings so that when one growing season is over, another begins. You may love tulips but they won’t last long, so consider what will happen when they lose their petals. Don’ be afraid to swap out plantings, or to plant complementary flowers so the greenery of blooms past will accentuate emerging ones.

Second, find plantings that work from season to season. There are myriad options for plants, trees and shrubs that offer something uniquely beautiful at different times of the year.

A paperbark maple, for example, will bring lush greens in spring, fiery foliage in fall, and really show off during winter with its cinnamon colored whorls of gently curling bark.

Remember, not all gardens have to grow! Adding a water feature, natural stone, artwork, reclaimed wood, or other elements can offer a beautiful vista no matter the time of year.

spill bowls

What’s the least amount of work you can do to keep it looking great?

That’s right, we don’t want you to work too hard! And why should you, when there are so many options for low-maintenance gardens that allow you to simply sit back and enjoy?

Choose native plants and they’ll be much more likely to thrive even under less than ideal conditions. Eliminate some lawn and replace it with beautiful wildflower gardens or soothing water gardens, and it will require a lot less upkeep.

Be sure that you’re including hardscape elements, like natural stone patios or walkways, rock gardens, or other “non growing” elements that won’t need watering, weeding, or mulching, but will still look great all year.

Plan smart, and you can build low maintenance right into your garden from the ground up.

Is your mind filling with visions of your next garden space yet? If you’d like to add gardens to your outdoor space, let’s talk. Book a consultation and we’ll plan with you so that you can enjoy color and texture, sound and motion, taste and scent all year long!