People plan ahead to ensure that everything is well thought out and there are fewer or no last minute decisions to be made. This is true for work, home or the garden.
To start planning this year’s garden think back to other years and make a list of what worked and what didn’t. Include annuals, baskets, trees, lawns, shrubs, perennials, vegetables and all hard landscaping.
Parts of the garden that worked before can be duplicated or left intact. Areas of the garden that did not work well should be placed on a to do list. If the list is long, prioritize it. If the list is too long push some items over to next season or hire someone to help. Gardening should be an enjoyable past time not a hated chore.
Be realistic about how much time is to be spent in the garden. If there is little time for the garden, keep it simple. It is better to do a little well as opposed to doing a lot poorly.
Planting different annuals in the ground or in containers can give the yard a new feeling. To achieve the best results, plan what variety to plant. Pay close attention to colour, size amount and cultural requirements. To keep annuals looking good they must be watered and fertilized on a regular basis.
Containers allow the garden to expand to areas where they would otherwise not grow. The larger the container the easier they are to arrange and keep watered. Still, they often need to be watered daily.
A shabby lawn takes away from the rest of the yard. Common problems are compacted soil, to much thatch or poor soil. Stick a spike or screwdriver into the soil. If it is hard to push in, the soil is compacted and would benefit from being aerated. Once plugs are removed from the soil the soil will loosen and the plant roots will spread out gathering more nutrients.
If there is over one-half inch (one cm) of dead grass on the top of the soil, rake or brush the lawn to remove excess material.
Most lawns are planted in very little topsoil which limits root grown downwards. Topdressing or adding a thin layer of soil will feed the lawn and add a bit to the soil base.
Look at the shrubs and trees in the yard. Do they have a purpose? Are they the right size and shape? Do they provide privacy or protection from the wind? Do they attract birds and butterflies? Are they in the correct spot? There should be a reason for everything in a landscape design. If there isn’t a reason then it should be removed.
Shrubs that have become too large can be pruned back, within reason. Likewise, unsightly shrubs can be reshaped and revitalized. Smaller varieties of trees will look good in a yard forever but larger ones should be removed when they start to overwhelm the house and yard.
In the spring perennials begin emerging from the soil. Ones that were too large last season can be divided, replanted with excess parts given away. Perennials that have had not grown well should be moved to a different location.
Make a list of plants that need to be moved and where they will be planted.
Include a list of vegetables that are going to be planted. Make sure that the seeds are on hand or purchase more.
The amount planted depends on how many people are eating from the garden.
Also look at the size and shape of all beds. Are they a too large or too small? Does the shape match the rest of the yard?
Hard landscaping includes sidewalks, fences, driveways and decks. These are expensive items that are not easy to move once they have been installed. Consider all possibilities before adding them to the yard.
Take time to walk around the yard or look out the window planning for the warm summer. Time spent in planning will be appreciated in the rush and bustle of spring.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at www.igardencanada.com or firstname.lastname@example.org