About the SFMGA

Monday, June 18, 2007

Begin with a Good Design

16 Steps to Garden Planning
  1. Relax. Live with your garden area for awhile without putting a shovel into the ground. Take this time to observe and plan. Collect all the pictures you can find of what your dream garden looks like. Start making your garden wish list.
  2. Plant a Pot: Go ahead and give in to that irresistible urge to plant with a container or two. If it's still winter, paint some branches a bright color and mix them with pinecones and pineboughs. Summer is easy.
  3. Dream and Imagine: Add to your list all the activities you want to do in your garden...what you want it to be. Formal? Playtime? Veggies for the family? Cool and zenlike? English cottage style?
  4. Look Around: What do you see you don't like and wish to hide? What's a pretty feature you want to highlight? View your garden from every window and decide what you'd like to see.
  5. Read and Research: Take the pictures you've collected and paste them into a notebook. Research what you like with books, TV shows, DVDs, workshops. Take pictures of your garden as it is now and add to your book.
  6. Dig Down: Know your soil. Send a sample in for a soil test. Call the MG office at 471.6251 to get the name of a lab.
  7. Tree Check: If you have a lot of trees, ask an arborist to evaluate them. They'll be the backbone of your garden.
  8. Watch the Sun: You'll want to know what areas of the garden get sun, which don't and how much. You'll match this with the sun needs of your plants. You'll need to account for future growth when your young trees grow up and cast shade.
  9. Make a Plan: Use a large sheet of paper and locate everything on it that exists on your property...house, walkways, trees. Make notes on the plan where your sunny areas are.
  10. Shrink the Lawn: Unless you really like turf care, don't plan a huge lawn. There are lots of turf alternatives.
  11. Priorities: arrange your wish list by importance and your ability to carry out your plans, financially and physically.
  12. Get Help: Many landscape designers and nurseries will take on small jobs or, of course, work with you on a grand plan. It's worth the cost to have a pro evaluate your ideas.
  13. Trees go First: Planting annuals for quick color is easy and fun but plant the 'bones' of your garden first...trees and shrubs. Plan for them to grow and site them accordingly away from the house or other areas they might overwhelm in 10 years.
  14. Amend your Soil: In your oasis zone, near the house, start with good soil. Ask your local nursery for recommendations on amendments.
  15. Take your Time: Gardens take time and mistakes. Be ready to have both happen.
  16. Relax: again and above all else, have fun.