Wantto start a garden? Find plants to suit your lifestyle

Published on Thu, May 10, 2007 by George Kaas

Read More News

Want to start a garden? Find plants to suit your lifestyle

By George Kaas

There is so much happening in the garden that it is difficult to pick a starting point. I have received many questions and inquiries recently from folks wanting to make some changes to their garden and wondering how or where to begin.

Landscapes are built similar to houses in that there are specific use areas or outdoor rooms that need to be identified and then constructed.
First consider how you use the garden and then how much time you plan on maintaining everything.

For example, I just spoke with a person who has a big backyard where the family and most of his time is spent. The front yard is neglected and he wants to remodel it so that it looks good and needs little in the way of regular maintenance. He has already completed the first task by determining why he wants to change the garden.

The next task is to start writing down plants and features that he likes as well as those not wanted. A landscape designer or creative nursery person is a great resource at this point to suggest options for reducing the amount of lawn, opening up the planting areas and materials to creatively tie it all together.

The last two years have really emphasized the importance of choosing plants and designs that are more drought tolerant. Lawns may tie the different rooms of a garden together, but maybe we do not need so much

Once there is a plan, the fun really begins as you start actually creating the design. Take it in steps and begin with a solid foundation.

In gardening, that means starting with the soil. Whether you are creating a new area of the garden or just taking care of spring business it is a good idea now to be amending the soil now that things are drying out and warming up.

All that finished compost in the bins is just the right choice for boosting the nutrient availability to newly planted areas. A commercial nitrogen fertilizer application does wonders to stimulate decomposition of a pile that has stopped working.

Evergreen trees are just beginning their growth cycle and need regular water to maintain the rate. Pines that dropped large numbers of needles due to dry conditions are recovering nicely, but consider deep watering as the season progresses.

A nitrogen fertilizer or generous amounts of mulch is also a good idea now. Time is running out to plant bare-root stock. Do not waste any more time and plant as soon as you buy that new fruiting addition.

Dogwoods are the star tree to have and plant now. Kousa is the most disease resistant, but varieties of Cornus florida like ‘Cherokee Chief’ have the best flowers.

We enjoy a wonderfully long growing season here and planting or transplanting is very successful for the next couple of months. Wait until rhododendrons have finished blooming before transplanting established shrubs.

Water everything you plant well and they will establish before summer. Daylillies are one of the best perennial choices for any garden. Planted from containers now expect blooms yet this summer.

The plants are tough and easy to be fearless about where you try them. They are especially dramatic mixed in mass plantings with ornamental grasses.