Saturday, February 18, 2006

Designing the Garden

This article was featured in the May 2002 Issue of A Virtuous Woman Newsletter.
By Melissa Ringstaff, Director

Perhaps you are new to gardening or just want a fresh look for your garden. Either way, having a plan before you start digging is a good idea. Creating a design for your garden is not hard and can be a lot of fun!

Begin by walking around your yard and taking notes on shady areas, bare spots, slopes, etc. Then, using a sheet of graph paper, sketch your yard as it is now. Try to make the house, fences, sidewalks, trees as close to scale as possible. Make a list of plants you think you would like to plant. Order free seed catalogs. Do some research on plants you unfamiliar with to be sure they will grow well in your zone. Keep in mind the how large the plant grow and plant accordingly. Don't plant trees to close to power lines or years from now the tree will lose a few limbs. Draw your favorite plants into your design. Now you have a master plan. This is where the fun begins!

You may wish to add a pretty stone path or stepping stones your kids made. A small pond or fountain can have a relaxing effect on all who enter the garden. Be sure to plan for elements such as a swing set, play house, or dining area that you may want to incorporate into the garden. Only take on one project at a time! Be sure that you will have enough time to maintain any new item you add. If you plan to spend three hours a week working in the yard and it takes you two hours to mow the lawn... that leaves you roughly one hour to weed, plant, maintain, and mulch.

Ideas to make your work easier:
1. Use the right tools for the job.
2. Plant perennials and bulbs. They come back each year!
3. Mulch heavily to help prevent weeds.
4. Plant annuals that do not need to have the flowers removed to continue blooming.
5. Group plants that require more water together.
6. Create your own potting center out of an old table or dresser. Keep supplies handy so you don't waste time searching for a needed tool.
7. Curve your flower beds to ease mowing.
8. Put the kids to work! Most children love to dig in the dirt.