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How to Re-design your Garden

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They say gardening is the ultimate form of hope. You plant tiny seeds in the absolute faith that something grand will grow. No garden design is ever finished. Plants fail, tastes change & weather is unpredictable. Your garden may not have followed all the gardening basics or be designed on paper, but the more thought you put into what you want and what you like or dislike about your garden, the better your garden will be next year.

Instead of resolving to eat healthier & exercise more, make some resolutions for your garden:

 

1. Learn from Last Year’s Mistakes

At the end of every gardening season I look over my list of disappointments and make notes of what not to plant next year or what to watch out for earlier in the season. Then I open up my seed catalogs and order things that I know very well will struggle for survival in my area. Just this once, I think I’ll show myself some respect and actually listen to the cautions I took such pains to jot down.

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Photo: © Marie Iannotti

2. Start off on the right foot

Now that I’ve reviewed what worked and what didn’t, I’ll take a moment to consider what plants will be happy in my sunny, sandy, humid garden. They say a healthy plant is better able to withstand diseases and pests, so my next resolution will be to keep my plants healthy and happy.

Photo: © Marie Iannotti

3. Mulch Early

Every spring I wait to see what plants have self-seeded and which tender perennials made it through the winter and will be putting in an encore appearance. I’m always delightfully surprised, but I am also way behind in mulching my garden. Waiting for flower seedlings to emerge means I’m also giving weed seedlings time to pop up – everywhere. This year I’m going to mulch early. If I lose a few self-seeders, I’ll make up for it with more time to plant because I’ll be doing less weeding.

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Photo: Peggy Greb. Bugwood.org

4. Become Pro-actively Organic

I’ve been gardening organically for several years now, but there are times when I’ve just thrown in the towel, because I didn’t have an organic cure for black spot or wilt or Japanese beetles or whatever. Now that most of my garden is running pretty smoothly on the rich organic soil I’ve built up over the years, I’m going to start to focus more attention on the balance of integrated pest management (IPM), throughout my yard.

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

5. Plant More Shrubs

There was awhile there where new perennials were the holy grail of the gardening world. We went crazy every time a Hosta showed a new stripe. Trees and shrubs were for common landscapers, not cultivated gardeners. Well, have you seen the shrubs out there on the market recently? They’re textured. They’re colorful, They have flowers and berries. They don’t require months of endless pinching and primping. I’m resolving to add more shrubs to my borders and to simply learning more about the shrubs that are available.

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

6. Use More Foliage with Color and Texture

Along the same line as planting more shrubs, I resolve to make better use of plants with interesting forms and texture and perennials with colorful foliage. No plant blooms incessantly all season, but there’s no stopping great foliage.

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

7. Fragrant Flowers and Plants

There’s not been much point in stopping to smell the roses lately. Most of them have no scent at all. Like a flavorless tomato that was bred to ship without bruising, flower breeders fed out need for longer bloom periods and larger flowers, at the expense of fragrance. I want the same thrill I get when the lilac buds start to open, every time I walk into my garden. I’m going to be looking for seeds of old-fashioned flowers that perfume air.

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

8. Be More Daring with Containers

Too often my containers are used to house plants that I couldn’t find a spot for in the border. There’s not much planning or thought behind my combinations when that happens. Even when I plan, I tend to hedge my bets with plants I know will perform long and well in a pot. This year I want to use a little abandon with my containers. I think I’ll allow impulse to point me toward brazen and potentially ridiculous plants, just to see how they work out.

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

9. Push my Vegetable Garden to the Limit

Last year I finally convinced myself that 6 tomato plants were plenty for someone like me, who doesn’t particularly like fresh tomatoes. Well 2 of my plants succumbed to a blight early in the season and my Brandywine was mislabeled and turned out to be a cherry tomato. This year I’m going for bounty. Let’s face it, half the fun of vegetable gardening is harvesting baskets of produce. There are plenty of places to donate what I can’t use, so why am I holding back?

Evergreens can be used to create garden structure, or bones. They don’t even have to be green!.  Photo: © Marie Iannotti

10. Plan for Fall in the Spring

Fall bloomers are a hard sell in the spring. We want instant gratification after a long, dull winter and a bunch of plants that languish for 3 months of the growing season just don’t have that great an appeal. But fall is such a beautiful season and the garden can really come back to life as the cooler weather sets in. This year I’m going to hunt out plants that bloom, fruit and flare into color in the fall. And to complement that I’m going to plant pumpkins, winter squash, gourds and corn – just for the stalks. They’ll be no need for inflatable Halloween decorations in my yard!