A good garden, like any long-term project, begins with proper planning. Consider what you want, why you want it, and how each plant will fare in its location. Spend time looking at your garden site, during its thriving months when you can easily spot what is working well and what is not, but also during the off-season. Choose what types of garden best suits your needs for each area of your cultivating spaces. Color, fragrance, style, and bed size are typical common factors. Be sure to include other criteria when forming your garden plans: ease or difficulty, special or tricky spots, seasons, amount of sun and shade, and so on.
While dramatic gardens do not have to be the most difficult, certain areas require a bit more strategizing, such as areas located near porches, patios, and decks or under trees. Will your garden beds have borders or be free-standing? Do they need to complement your home – be it mansion, cottage, or suburban dwelling? Should they blend well with the outlying landscape? Do you want your gardening spaces to appear more formal or natural and wild? Use an online planner or some graph paper with grids and a pencil (with an eraser, of course), to try out various ideas.
Have a diverse topography? Not a problem: consider a water garden or a rock garden or even some decorative grasses and shrubs. For vegetables gardens, remember considerations such as aeration and amendment of soil, rotating crops, adequate watering, and your local growing season. Certain herbs and flowering plants work well in a vegetable garden to prevent unwanted pests and disease.
When thinking about next year’s garden design, consider all relevant factors: selecting spots, planning locations of beds, adding or improving structures and paths, storage, weeding/watering and blooming/harvesting schedules, ongoing maintenance, etc. Remember to factor in budget considerations: plan for the costs of seeds, plants, improvements, bed materials, soil amendments, tools, and irrigation if needed. Also, plan to celebrate your gardening successes, whether via parties in your special areas or by harvesting, eating, canning, and preserving natural goodies and gifts from your garden.
– Begin with Your End Goals In Mind
Your first design consideration should be “What are your goals and desires for your garden spaces?” Entertainment, curb appeal, privacy, harvest, safety, wildlife – there are so many garden functions. Do you want more privacy from a busy street or neighbors? Need a sound buffer from traffic or pedestrians? How much height and density do you desire from your gardening spots? Do you want to attract butterflies? Birds? During which parts of the day and evening will you be enjoying your garden? Do you have small children or pets? If so, consider the safety of the grounds, including surface materials, even plants and preventive measure choices. Also, consider items and areas that will be open and entertaining for children and pets as well as how to cordon off those which need to remain secure.
If one of your goals involves outdoor entertaining, factor in garden seating areas and/or patio spaces and paths or walkways. If you plan to use your garden areas for harvesting vegetables or cutting flowers, plan for walkways, too. Will you garden be visible from the street or a public area or is it more for your own enjoyment? If the latter, do you want to design for a lovely view from inside your home as well as outside?