When you start off, all you have in a barren yard which you want to convert into a garden.
The task is not as complex or arduous as it seems at first. Some simple planning and reality checks can help you decide the course of action. Once you have the suitable conditions in place you can start planting.
Here is how can go about the task of planning your garden.
1. Designing your garden on the paper
You would need a graph paper, pencil and ruler.
Draw the an initial draft setting up the layout of your garden. Use the scale of inches for each foot.
Indicate the areas of sun and shade in your garden. This would come in handy while planning the types of plants you want to grow.
Use a measuring tape to get an idea of the length and width of your garden and various structures like walkways, pathways and patio. Include all these in your graph paper.
Once you have the layout drawn on the graph paper, you can add the elements of your garden to it.
Decide upon the flowers, fruits and vegetable that you would like to grow on your garden.
Take a lot at various gardening books, score through various gardens in your neighborhood, take a look at the various plants available at the nearby nursery.
Use the internet, it’s a great source of pictures. You might a lot of interesting ideas while perusing the various garden designs, flower plants, fruit trees and lawn pictures available on the internet.
Now draw out the areas where you want to place these plants. You can have areas for perennials, annuals, vines, fruit trees, shrubs and hedges.
Redraw from the draft until you are satisfied with the final result. The way you want your garden to look externally should be sketched on your graph paper.
This step is very crucial. Suppress the temptation to go out and start planting without planning. It is far easier to erase a garden on a graph paper than in real life. Your garden is a investment in time and effort, the initial preparation makes all the difference.
2. Break down your garden plans into mini projects
Growing a garden is a big project which needs to be broken down into mini projects. Start concentrating on areas you would like to start working on immediately.
A garden has four major elements which you would need to start building upon. They are
The garden floor
Most your garden would be covered by lawn grass, a part of it would be for pathways and then there will be soil. Plan on areas carefully.
The garden ceiling
You can well be satisfied with the blue skies, but if you want to be adventurous you can go for hanging plants, vines growing on umbrellas and archways.
The garden walls
The fencing and the wall boundaries. You need to decide whether to grow vines, shrubs or just potted plants along the boundaries.
The garden furniture
This would literally means pieces of furniture such as artificial fish ponds, fountains, tables and artifacts. A piece of advice would be concentrate on living aspects of the garden rather than the non-living artificial. Fit it in where necessary but don’t overdo it.
3. Plan according to your garden conditions
Your yard is small
If you are stuck with a small yard there is no need to despair. You can try the below tips to enhance the space of your garden.
Work with the fencing, paint it with a light color. Grow vines of different varieties, mostly the lush green ones along the fence. Consider placing several potted plants along the fence.
Drape your boundaries with shrubs and bushes. This gives a plush look to any ordinary garden.
Place a statue, small fountain or fish pot in the center of your garden. Surround it with flowering plants of different colors. This will act as the center piece of attract and serve to take the attention away from the closeness of your yard.
Plant flowers in layers. The layering effect is known to generate an illusion of space. You can place a wide step ladder to enhance the layering effect, flowering plants can be placed on each step of the ladder.
Your yard is real big
This is not always a good thing. A big yard requires more care, more water and more plants else it looks awkward. You can try the below tricks to make your yard look plush.
- Consider building a patio or a pool in the center of your yard
- Pathways can be employed to run through center of your yard creating a crossroad scenario.
- Make a potting section in the center of your yard which consists of potted flowers of different varieties.
- Work with garden beds separated by gravel pathways as boundary.
- Place a small fence along certain garden beds giving them an enclosed look.
Your soil is bad
Not much you can do about the soil type, but you can do several things to enhance its vegetative capacity.
Digging in compost into your soil make it rich immediately. A compost rich soil is porous, drains water away quickly, is rich in minerals and has natural fertilizing agents. It’s the best you can give your plants.
You can of course take a rein check on the type of plants which are growing well for your neighbors and decide to plant them to be on the safer side. If you are not handy with compost of mixing your soil, consider hiring a qualified help.
You can read the article preparing garden soil, for more info.
Your yard is full of weeds
Its time to get destructive. The best way to thwart the growth of weeds to pluck them off at the root level. Use a hoe to accomplish this.
The best times to remove weeds would be before they take seed, the end of fall or start of spring is ideal.
There are several herbicides available which work well on weeds, but use them carefully.
Mulching your garden is a great option. Mulching keeps the weeds at bay and retains water in soil which helps the plants.
Never make a compost out of dead weeds. They take root immediately and can wreck havoc in your garden. Always discard your weeds outside.
You can read this article identify the common lawn weeds, for information on weeds.
4. Finding plants which suit your conditions
Whatever be the condition of your soil or climate, you can find plants to suit your garden.
If there is a lot of sun, it’s a good thing. You can go in for a lot of flowering plants, fruits and vegetable plants as well as trees and herbs. Check out this article sun loving annual flowers, for ideas. Most plants require plentiful sun especially vegetables. You can try several color combinations among the flowering plants.
Dry climatic conditions:
If you don’t get spells of rain frequently and your climate is mostly dry and devoid of humidity, you are better off buying plants which are adapted to dryer conditions. You don’t want to spend the majority of your time watering your plants.
There are several varieties of cacti available, they are highly decorative and many are colorful. You should give it a try. There are several drought tolerant plants available to gardeners these days, you can even get a set of native plants from your nursery.
If your climatic conditions are damp and you are subjected to frequent rains, you would need to build better drainage facilities for your plants to grow well.
There are several plants which grow well in damp conditions like Japanese primroses and red maples, along with a huge list of foliage and flowering plants. Check out this article for more info – building a raised bed vegetable garden
There are plants which grow well in shade. If you have a tall fencing or trees around in your yard, consider planting flowering shrubs which are resistant to shade. Check out this article flowering vines that grow in shade for ideas. There is a huge list of plants which grow well in shade, most of the flowering plants have an advantage of giving flowers which last long and have bright colors.
How you plan your garden initially would help you reduce a lot of after work once the garden has been planted. Take your time and seek some expert opinion on any areas of doubt. The cooperative extension society, in your area, would be able to help you will any doubts regarding the plant varieties you might want to grow.
The type of soil in your yard:
There are basically three types of soil
The soil can also categorized on the basis of the pH level as
Clay soil tends to be the worst you can work with. It does not allow for water drainage, it gets all soaky and wet. Puddles are never good for your plants since they deprieve them of oxygen.
Loam soil is among best you can get. They are crumbly and dark. This type of soil would allow for water seepage and is porous.
Sandy soil comes somewhere in between. A good mix of sandy and loam soil would be perfect.
Your local climate:
The climate in your area would affect your decision on which type of plants to grow. Certain vegetables grow only under certain climatic conditions as do flowers and fruits.
Is your climate damp or dry most of the time around the year?
Do you get a lot of sun or is it mostly cloudy?
How long does the frost last and how hot is it during summer?
These are some important questions you would need to answer to determine the type of plants that would be well suited for your garden. Unless you live in a desert chance are that you can grow plenty of plants, because more of them are quite hardy.
The plants which grow locally:
You will find certain types of bushes, shrubs, flowers and fruit plants growing in your area or in your neighbor’s lawn.
These plant which grow without extended care in your surroundings would provide a hint to the type of conditions that you are dealt with. They give an idea about the climatic conditions and the type of soil.
You don’t need to grow these native plants in your garden though, the idea of course is to have a garden which look different from the surrounding.
How Much Shade Does Your Garden Receive?
Whenever you start a garden from the scratch you are bound to run into the startup problems. The most common among them are
There is too much shade:
The reason could be the presence of large trees or artificial structure like your fencing and the house itself. Few steps you can take to improve the conditions are as below
- You cannot help the artificial structure but with respect trees, you can prune them off.
- Cut off any dead braches or the ones which are extending far.
- You can do it yourself it the tree is small using a pruning saw. If it’s a large tree you are better off calling in a qualified arborist company.
- You might even need to cut off trees in case they are intrusive and large, may sure you get the required permissions before attempting it. There are several regions which require authorized permission before cutting off a tree.
There is too little shade:
If your yard is too sunny and get a lot of heat which is baking the soil dry and making your yard a water hogging monster, its time to add a few shady elements. You can consider doing the following
- Try an artificial tent or trampoline, the placement of the tent would dictate how much area can be shaded
- Place colorful long umbrellas to shade your new plants
- In the long term consider growing shady trees and vines along large trellis to provide you with natural shade.
You could of course let caution fly to the wind and start planting without planning. If you are feeling lucky and if you have a casual garden in mind, you could just do that.
5. The Given Conditions of Your Landscape
A few considerations which might creep in depending on the your present yard and landscape structure would be
The presence of trees
If your yard is already blessed with trees then you might need to consider pruning them or may be even cutting them off if are intrusive. If you can live with the tree it would be for the best. Pruning trees is a better option, most plants don’t grow well in shade.
You might look at building a living fence made out of bushes and shrubs or you may want to add it to your artificial fence. Whatever be the case, make sure you consult with
your neighbor on your ideas, it should not be against their wishes. After all good fencing makes for good neighbors.
If you pathway or walkway would be intruding as far as your gardening plans are concerned, then you would need to have them removed. A pathway which runs along the center of a lawn would look awkward.
You can have the present pathway remove and replace it with a gravel or flagstone pathway with can be built in a wandering fashion.