Planning Your Garden
The majority of us spend time planning. Whether it is mapping out your week’s schedule, listing what you need to purchase at the grocery store, or deciding budget needs for your summer vacation – we regularly plan ahead. Planning saves money, saves time, and prepares us for what is to come, so why not apply these same principles to gardening? Planning your garden is a relatively easy task and will spare you some big headaches when it’s time to put your summer garden in motion!
Benefits of planning:
Planning your garden will allow you to better spend both your money and time. Everyone appreciates saving money, and your garden can grow just as heartily on less money if you plan it properly. By planning, you’ll also keep from purchasing unnecessary plants, seeds and tools.
Saving time is almost as important as saving money. Planning helps you identify when seeds should be started, plants should be transplanted, and fertilizing or staking should take place so that a harvest is bountiful. Additionally, if not properly identified and planned, you could miss a crucial planting period that could result in a missed harvest.
So, maybe you’re interested in saving money or saving time, or both, but either way now is the time to get started.
Humans are visual creatures. Mapping out your next garden is the perfect place to begin your planting plans. Using grid paper is beneficial, but you’re not limited to it. Start by drawing your property. Be sure to include any permanent fixtures such as your home, a pool or pond, trees, swing sets, fences, and any other structures you will be working around. You should also draw in any walkways or driveways where planting won’t take place.
Once you have your property sketched out, you’ll know which areas are open to being planted and transformed. You may have gathered inspiration for your garden through magazines, blogs, photos of places you’ve traveled or from your neighbor’s yards and gardens. This is the time to pull out all the images and start considering where you can implement them.
Maybe you need help coming up with some ideas? The following are awesome blogs and websites which offer countless thought starters:
Remember that the inspiration pieces you find are just that – inspiration! They can be modified to better fit your space and garden’s needs. You also may want to scale them back to better fit your budget or time commitment, too, and that’s just fine. Use these pieces to get your mind thinking about what is possible for your garden.
Don't forget to map it out before you dig in.
Go here for more Garden Planning Tips and feel free to use our downloadable Garden Planner to get you started.
Types of gardens:
There are a variety of garden types that you can employ on your property. The most popular garden styles include vegetable gardens, fruit gardens, flower gardens, herb gardens, and wildlife themed gardens. Some gardeners like to plant English style gardens, lasagna gardens, or no-weed gardens. Determining which type of gardening you’d like to do is important so that you can identify light and water requirements, as well as how much space you may need.
With current economic constraints, it is no surprise that growing your own fruits and vegetables has grown in popularity. The cost of produce is constantly increasing and the general public is taking the matter into their hands – or gardens. Plus, the growing dilemma of genetically modified products is incentivizing the public to take back control. Tons of people have decided to “grow their own!”
Vegetable gardening has many benefits. Fresh produce in your backyard is second to none, and the amount of money you can save by growing commonly used veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn is amazing. When planning a vegetable garden you should first decide which vegetables you’d like to grow, as this will play a huge factor in the space you need. Keep in mind that some vegetables can fare well in containers if ground space is limited. Research on the vegetables you want to grow is also beneficial. Be sure to collect the following information:
- Planting and harvesting time frames
- Should this vegetable be planted in a row format or does a single plant create a bounty of harvest?
- How much sunlight is needed? What water requirements does it need to thrive?
- Is this vegetable plant a climbing plant? Do I need to plan for plant stakes and supports?
- Can I plant something in this space after this plant’s harvest is complete?
- Which insects or plant diseases are common to this vegetable plant?
Growing your own fruit is similar to growing your own vegetables, although there are fruit varieties that fare better in some climates over others – such as citrus. After determining which fruit you’d like to grow, and if your climate supports its growth, you’ll want to identify how these fruits grow – are they trees, bushes, vines? A plant like the strawberry plant is extremely invasive and can take over your garden. Identifying if your fruit plants have these qualities is important.
Flower gardening is a favored gardening type among many gardeners. There are a few types of flowering gardens that you should be familiar with:
Perennial garden – These flowers will survive for more than a year and are able to survive cold winters. In most cases these plants take about two years to bloom.
Biennial garden – A two-year life serves these plants and they generally only flower their second year of life.
Annual garden – Annuals only live for a year or less. They offer variety for gardeners who like to change their gardens year after year.
When growing your flower garden you can start from seeds, bulbs, or by transplanting growing plants. Bulbous plants have roots that grow from the bottom while stems and leaves grow up from the top. Seeds are generally inexpensive and may need to be started indoors before being moved to the outside elements. Your local garden center is a great resource for plant specific growing tips. They are equipped with the knowledge to help you grow the flowers you want in your particular climate and planting zone.
Herb gardening is another possible “grow your own” choice among foodies. Herbs are easily grown in most plant containers and can be grown in the ground, too. For those who are limited on space it is very common to use containers for herbs, as they can be moved indoors during the cooler months, too. Herbs can be used fresh or dried to use at another time. Some home chefs like to puree their herbs and mix them with a small amount of water. If you pour the mixture into an ice cube tray you are able to freeze the herbs and use the flavor at a later time for cooking.
Gardening for wildlife is a theme that is popular among nature lovers. Two very common types are hummingbird gardens and butterfly gardens. The theory behind these gardens is to plant flowers and bushes that attract butterflies or hummingbirds and help add quality to their lives. Often these tiny creatures rely on natural plants or feeders to help supply them energy, and we can help by keeping them in mind when planning our gardens.
Planting and harvesting time frames
We mention planting and harvesting schedules on various occasions and you may wonder why that is so important. There are two main reasons:
- You could miss your plant date if you don’t plan properly which could result in a loss of or no harvest.
- Some plants may harvest early with enough time to then use that space for another vegetable or fruit later in the season.
To get the most out of your garden space you’ll want to pay close attention to these dates and what is suggested for particular plants in your specific planting zone. There are a few variables, which will affect your planting and harvesting dates, such as first and last frosts, practicality, and the length of your growing season. Use these resources to determine when to plant your vegetables and fruits and when to expect a harvest:
- Iowa State University and Outreach – http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/pm534.pdf
- Weekend Gardener - Vegetable and Fruit Harvest Guide
- Cornell Cooperative Extension - http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/vegetables/harvestguide.pdf
Hardscaping and fencing:
Along with plants and wildlife in your garden, you may desire ponds, stone structures, or fencing. Because these elements are of a more permanent nature than plants, you should factor them into your early season gardening and constructing. Hardscaping benefits your property by adding value to the land, creating focal points, and encouraging a flow of movement.
Many property concerns can be remedied using hardscaping, too! Issues such as land drainage can find a solution in employing creek beds or small artificial streams. Whether you install hardscape features yourself or by using a contractor, you are going to create a new look and feel to your yard and gardens.
Fencing has the ability to keep animals and people contained or excluded. You may want to consider what your fencing need is before deciding which type of fence you want to install. Permanent fence materials are durable, but more expensive, while temporary fence systems allow you to have more flexibility with how long you want to use them and how much you want to spend.
For gardening purposes, fences are highly useful in keeping animals from wreaking havoc on your harvest. For instance, deer can take down an entire tomato crop if given the option, so using a fence structure keeps deer from becoming a nuisance. Netting is an option, too, for keeping small nuisance critters out of your gardens. Monitoring your plants and looking for signs of damage will help you determine if you need an exclusion option.
Don’t forget your yard!
Your garden will definitely get a lot of attention this year, but so will your yard! Don’t forget to consider how you want to care for your yard and whether you’ll need to up the ante there, too. Consider filling in any patchy areas of your yard with grass seed, or seed starter, or making sure pet-friendly areas are filled in due to the previous year’s damage.
Both your garden and yard deserve to be gorgeous. Planning ahead and caring for them will increase your property’s value and your home’s curb appeal. The experts at Avant Garden Décor are ready to help you get the best garden and yard this year. Join us on Facebook to discuss how to create a beautiful outdoor space that you and your family will enjoy for months to come!
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