Gardening. You’d think it’s simply just picking flowers out, sticking them randomly around the flowerbed, and throwing down plenty of mulch. The art of making a beautiful garden takes a lot of planning.
Before running off to your local nursery and buying every flower that catches your eye, make a budget. Plan out exactly how much you’re willing to spend on your garden. It’s also a good idea to have 15-20 percent set aside for unexpected expenditures, setbacks, and be less likely of going over budget. Even if you don’t touch the 15-20 percent, then you’ll have extra money to get something special for your garden.
Make sure you have all the tools necessary, but don’t just buy the cheapest tools you find. Buying more expensive, higher quality tools pays for itself since you won’t have to run back as often to replace a broken tool. Some of the expenditures of the higher quality tools can be offset by buying discount/sale equipment, cheaper flowers, or off-brand materials such as fertilizers. Lastly, don’t forget to comparison shop between local nurseries. Money can be easily saved by making sure you’re buying everything at the lowest prices available.
Making sure your garden is ready
When looking at your flowerbeds, ask yourself, are they ready to be planted? There are a few steps you’ll want to take to make sure your future garden can support plant life. Test the soil’s pH levels so you know if you need to fertilize or buy certain plants. Take time to figure out the sun exposure throughout the day. Taking steps such as testing the pH levels in the soil and checking the sun exposure throughout the day can help you confidently choose plants that will thrive. From this point, go ahead and start planning everything out.
Planning your garden
As you plan everything out, think about what you want and need from your garden. Do you need space for your kids or pets to run around, want to host parties, or have someplace to escape and relax? Are you going to grow your own vegetables? Questions such as these can help you realize how you want to landscape your garden. Researching garden and landscaping trends can also help you find what you like and dislike.
Do research on the various flowers you might want to put into the garden. Do they aggravate allergies? When do they bloom? Do you want perennials or annuals? Do this research beforehand as well as ask for information from your local nursery to help make the right decisions. Lancaster County, PA has some great nurseries that provide many options such as, Frey’s Greenhouse, Ken’s Gardens, Stauffers of Kissel Hill, as well as the various flower stands you can find around the county.
At this point you should also start keeping records of your plants. This will help you know how many seedlings you have, if you are planting any. The best part about keeping records is that if one of your plants die, you’ll know if the nursery it came from will replace it since most reputable nurseries have around a one year guarantee on their plants.
With your brain now swimming with ideas of what you might want, sketch it all out. Start by making a scale drawing of your garden space and start sketching possibilities for garden layouts. Obviously your sketch doesn’t have to be as extensive and professional as our example here, a simple sketch will suffice, and I don’t know about you, but I definitely can’t draw that good. Remember to take into account the dimensions (height, width) of the plants you want to put in. If you have explored the websites of some of the local Lancaster, PA nurseries, you might have noticed that some provide a service to help make a design for your garden. So if you feel you can’t/don’t want to draw out a plan, think about taking advantage of these types of services.
Before going and planting all the flowers, shrubs, and trees you want, sleep on it. Give your ideas plenty of time to soak in. Maybe you’ll come up with a great idea soon after finishing up your sketches. You can easily adjust a sketch, but it’s more difficult to adjust a whole garden after everything is already done. When going through all of your ideas, just remember to start small and give all the plants plenty of room to breath. By doing this you won’t overwhelm yourself, you’ll have plenty of room to develop your garden further, and most importantly as time goes on, plants will continue to grow and fill in the extra spaces.
Make a schedule
Make a schedule of when you want to buy supplies and flowers, fertilize, edge, plant, mulch, etc. Set away a day or so for weeding, fertilizing, and edging. Another day can be for planting, and the next for mulching. By splitting up all the garden work over a couple of days, you will find the process to be less tiring and more enjoyable than doing it all at once.
Now that you’ve planned where and what you’re going to plant, the flowerbeds are ready to be planted, and everything has been bought, there are still some more guidelines you might want to follow. When placing flowers, place the tallest in the back of the flowerbed while keeping smaller flowers towards the front. In order to have a sense of cohesion throughout your garden, repeat elements such as colors, shapes, or specific plants. Also, plant in odd multiples and remember to add interesting elements so your garden doesn’t look monotonous.
After all your flowers and plants are in, it’s time for mulch, but why do you need mulch? Mulch effectively keeps weeds down and helps retain moisture so you don’t have to spend as much time watering and weeding. There are many options to choose from for mulch. Mulch options include wood chip mulch, hay, or even stone— which is a much lower maintenance option as it lasts much longer than other types of mulch— so make sure your decision is based on what you want and the maintenance you’re willing/can put into your garden.
Try some local mulch companies to find the best mulch for your garden. In Lancaster, PA try going to places such as Landyshade Mulch Products, Good’s Mulch, and others found around the area. They have plenty of options for you choose from and usually have delivery available depending on how far away you are from them.
Think about creating a focal point(s), this can include trees, shrubs, sculptures, ponds, etc. Focal points help add other elements of interest in your garden, as well as keeps the eye moving, making people notice all the details you put in. Create a pathway as well to encourage yourself and others to walk around and explore.
Living with your garden
At the end of the day, if you plan everything out you should be able to have the garden of your dreams. Hopefully, you will want to show off to everyone or have it be your escape from the outside world. Either way, it’s important to keep in mind to make decisions that fit not only your wants and needs, but that also reflect your personal style. This way, you can love your garden for years to come, but also realize that what you like this year, you may not next year or in a couple of years, so be open to change. It’s okay to relocate and remove flowers and plants that you aren’t satisfied with anymore. Don’t be afraid to let your garden express who you are!