Before even breaking soil, a good gardener digs up a plan to map out the location of selected beautiful blooms. A few local nurseries offer some tips on what you need to consider before planting that first seed.

Gardener Gear

“All gardeners need to arm themselves with the right tools that work for them,” said Franklin Susen, Tree & Shrub Manager at Green View Garden Center in Dunlap. “There are hundreds of different garden tools one can buy, but most people just need the basics,” Susen said. “One thing to look for in all of your tools is comfort. Everyone is different, but your tools need to work for you.”

A basic set of long-handled tools should include:

  • A sturdy garden spade
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Leaf rake
  • Bow rake

Other garden tools you’ll find handy:

  • A good pair of gardening gloves
  • A hand trowel
  • Bypass hand pruners

Location, Location, Location

“When finding a location for a garden in your yard, the first and most important component our horticulturists all agreed on was the amount and quality of light,” said Jane Mason of Hoerr Nursery. Determine if the area you’ve chosen is situated in the sun or the shade.

“Deep, deep shade is challenging and your plant options are limited,” said Mason. “And contrary to what many homeowners would like to believe—grass will not grow in deep, deep shade. For a sun garden, ideally, you would have sun about six to eight hours of the day, and an area with good soil and good drainage. You may want it to be something that you can see from the house, so you can appreciate it. If you are growing herbs or vegetables, you may want it immediately outside your kitchen door.”

Generally when selecting a location, the horticulturists at Hoerr Nursery said to think in moderation. “Not blasting sun, not on too steep a slope, not in an area that typically puddles, not too clay, not too sandy,” said Mason. “But, even with these locations, whatever your location is, there will be ways to create some sort of garden, even if just a rock garden!”

Pick Your Flowers

Hoerr Nursery offers some considerations to keep in mind when selecting your flowers:

  • Color of your house. You can pick colors that are the same as your house, or colors that will pop out against your house.
  • Your wardrobe. Look in your closet and see what colors dominate and what colors make you feel happy. Select your flowers with that in mind.
  • Time. How much time will you want to spend in your garden? Depending on your time and level of expertise, you may want to choose low-maintenance flowers. In the rose family, the horticulturists recommended shrub roses such as Knock-Out®, Carefree® or Easy Elegance®.
  • Watering. Consider the moisture in your soil and how often you are available to water, or consider installing an irrigation system. Flowers such as Astilbe need constant moisture and are difficult to grow in this area—it gets too hot and dry here. On the other hand, for most people, daisies and day lilies, for example, tend to be fairly adaptable to soil and can tolerate drier conditions.
  • Looming Blooming. If you want continuous flowers, search out plants that offer a color show through late summer.
  • Area Size. Keep height and density in mind. If you’re successful, your plants will grow and could more than fill up their newly-acquired space.
  • Frequency. Consider whether you want annuals or perennials. Annuals are planted each year and perennials come up over a period of years.

Fun Additions to Your Garden

Hoerr Nursery suggests some decorative items to liven up any garden:
 

  • Gazing balls
  • Fountains
  • Herbs
  • Water gardening dishes
  • Gargoyles
  • Wind chimes
  • Whirligigs, spinners
  • Hanging geometrics
  • Pergolas or archways
  • Window boxes
  • Bird houses, bird feeders
  • Pondless waterfall

Keeping Your Garden Growing

“Plants, in general, need an inch of water a week,” Susen said. “A thorough soaking about two to three times a week (with no rain) is better than a little water everyday. This helps to develop deep rooting, which, in turn, means healthy, more vigorous plants.”

Dead or damaged limbs and leaves need to be removed to prevent diseases. If insects, bugs or disease become a problem, there are many products available to control or get rid of them. Many newer varieties of plants are resistant to diseases. “There are also plants that can be planted to repel insects and bugs. Marigolds are a prime example of this,” Susen said. “Critter problems, such as squirrels, rabbits and deer can be controlled by commercial repellants.”

The tree and shrub expert also said that compost should be added to a garden on a yearly basis. Plants deplete nutrients in the soil and compost helps to replenish those dirt “vitamins.” Adding a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote on a yearly basis also helps to improve soil fertility.

“Lastly, a 1.5-inch layer of mulch should be added to your garden area. Mulches help retain moisture and reduce weeds,” Susen said. “They also keep the roots of plants cool in the summer and insulated in the winter.”

For more information, contact Green View Garden Center at 246-8079 or Hoerr Nursery at 691-4561. a&s