Nothing says spring like plans for a home garden. Whether you decide to plant parsnips or tulips, getting your green thumb on is a great activity for the whole family. But breaking ground before you have a solid plan can be a recipe for backyard disaster. Make sure you know the answers to these important questions before you begin to dig or to speed things along you can contact your local professional landscaper.
What is your hardiness zone?
Knowing your hardiness zone will determine what plants will thrive in your garden. Thankfully the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website provides a map that outlines the different zones (there are nine). Only choose plants that are recommended for your zone.
What do you want to grow?
Are you looking to start a vegetable garden? Or are you interested in mixing in a few flowers and herbs as well? Figure out what you’re interested in planting and determine how many of each plant you’ll need. Know that vegetables like tomatoes and squash yield multiple crops throughout the season (which means you won’t need as many plants), while carrots and corn only yield one.
Which plants need sun and which plants need shade?
While most plants and vegetables relish direct sunlight, some (including flowering plants like monkshood, lilyturf, veggies like mustard greens, arugula and spinach, and herbs like garlic, mint and parsely) perform well or even prefer the shade.
Where do you want your garden located?
Most homeowners choose the backyard, but that doesn’t mean you should totally discount the side of the house or even the front yard (as long as it’s legal). Choose an area that has enough space to fit all of your plants and veggies and provides the right amount of sun and shade.
First-timers should start small. While you may have daydreams of planting an epic garden, something smaller (like a 10 by 10 plot) is going to be much easier to maintain. You may also consider contacting a professional, like Ashlar Landscapes, to help you plan the location of your garden.
How well does your soil drain?
According to Martha Stewart, if you’re planning on growing vegetables, you want soil that drains at about an inch of water per hour. How do you know if your soil passes the test? Martha Stewart suggests digging a 1 foot by 1 foot hole, fill it with water and then time how long it takes the water to drain away. Repeat the process and then divide the depth of the water by the number of hours it took to drain twice.
Slow draining soil? You may want to consider calling in a professional to install an irrigation system.
Do you want to plant in the ground or use containers?
If your soil isn’t up to snuff, you may want to consider garden containers. You can build your own or purchase them at your local gardening store.
Do you have neighborhood critters?
Bunny trouble? Install a fence, or a motion-activated water-spray sensor.
Do you have a clear picture of what you want the garden to look like?
By Megan Mostyn-Brown
How does your garden grow? Let us know in the space below.