Planning a garden can be a daunting task. How do I know if a plant will grow here? What does 'part sun' really mean? How much time will plants require? We get it, it's a lot to think about. But, when you are armed with some basic knowledge it makes starting a lot easier. Without further ado, here is a list of 3 things to consider when planning a garden:
The first thing to consider when planning a garden is thinking through how much time and commitment you can and want to give to it. If you work a lot or travel regularly, a huge garden might not be best for you. If you like the idea of looking at pretty plants but aren't interested in caring for them, then low maintenance plants would be a good option.
Plants require time and care, even low maintenance ones. Think about your schedule and what your free time generally looks like May through September to help set realistic expectations. And, remember that watering and pruning plants can be a very meditative and relaxing time. You might realize you enjoy it and happily add more plants to care for.
Sunlight is one of the most important requirements when choosing what to plant. If shade-loving plants receive too much light they will likely dry up and die. If sun-loving plants receive too little light they may not grow well or bloom and may eventually die. So, how do you know how much sun plants need? Check their plant tag to find out if they need full sun, part sun, or shade.
- Full sun = 6+ hours of sun daily
- Part sun = 4-6 hours of sun daily
- Full shade = Less than 4 hours
Be sure to also pay attention to which direction the area faces.
- North gets the least amount of sun (part shade/shade)
- South gets the most amount of sun (full sun)
- East receives a half day of sun (part sun/full sun, cool morning sun)
- West receives a half day of sun (part sun/full sun, hot afternoon sun)
Also, make note if there are any buildings or large trees that will shade the area.
Consider where your water access is in relation to where you would like to plant. The closer it is, the easier it will be to water, especially if you plan on doing any hand watering. Setting up irrigation is often worth the effort, especially if you plan on planting a lot or are frequently out of town. There are several different kinds of irrigation to choose from.
- Drip hoses that slowly leak water.
- WaterWise® Drip Irrigation System concentrates water directly to the root of the plant and set up is very simple.
- Sprinklers above ground are widely available, affordable, and can easily be moved around to meet your needs. Underground sprinklers pop up when desired but may require professional installation.
If you set up any irrigation we recommend using a faucet timer to make it completely hands off. You can set how often, how long, and what time the water will turn on (early morning is best). These may need to be adjusted throughout the season depending on how much rainfall you receive and how hot and dry it is. This will save you so much time and keep your plants very happy.
Also, try to remember that this is a learning process. If you lose a few plants along the way it's okay. It does NOT make you a bad gardener. It is part of gardening and a part of learning because green thumbs are learned, not given. Have fun and keep trying!
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