Getting Started

Creating a garden can be very rewarding.  It’s a great stress reliever, pretty good exercise and allows you to experience the outdoors.  First, think about what type of garden you’d like.  Take in to consideration the sun and shade conditions.  If you’re planning on planting vegetables seek out the sunniest spot on your property.  A perennial bed, however, can thrive in sun or sun, it all depends on plant selection.

Observe and analyze the existing conditions of  your site thoroughly.  Observe the sun and shade conditions and test your soil for Ph level and composition and this will greatly help in the selection of plants which are appropriate for your garden.  Gardens planned with forethought will experience fewer problems as your plants will experience less stress.

Find out whether your soil is sandy, rocky or has high amounts of clay.  Though you can work with these natural conditions and create a beautiful garden by utilizing indigenous species of plant, more often than not your soil will need to be amended before you plant your garden.  Sandy soils can dry out very quickly as it drains well and will need water retaining additives like peat moss and compost.  Clay on the other hand holds too much moisture for many plants and requires the addition of coarse textured organic matter to to help improve drainage.

Checking out the Sun and Shade

Garden ConditionsMap out the sun and shade conditions of your property.  Plants which require full sun need at least 6 hours of sun each day.  Part shade plants need 3 hours.  There are many plants which can thrive full shade but remember there’s a big difference between those plants which tolerate shade and those which love it.

Other considerations include existing views and potential views.  Evergreen hedges can create screens, blocking out unwanted views or creating privacy and outdoor rooms.  Selective pruning can create new views.

Evaluate your needs before you begin planting.  Will you entertain in your garden?  Do you need a place for children to play?  How much time are you willing to devote to maintenance?  Plan for the future as well.  A common mistake when designing new gardens is improper plant selection and placement.  Know a plant’s mature size to be sure it won’t outgrow its allotted spot in the garden.  Often when this happens pruning can create awkwardly shaped shrubs or transplanting may be needed.  Become familiar with your plant’s other qualities as well, such as fall color and times of bloom.  Be sure that the plants complement one another as well as the surrounding garden structures and architecture.