Wow, it’s June already! The Zocalo crew is crunching together their expertise to put together a special “How-to” month of blog posts for the month of June. You’ll find posts on gardening, flowers, and ideas about how to make your home unique. If you have any other ideas, drop us a line. We’d love to hear about your gardening and flower queries.
Count them on One Hand: Five Steps to Building a Great Garden (for every new Green Thumb)
1. Prep and Plan
So, you’re gonna dig in and build a garden? Where and with what? Plan before you dig! You don’t necessarily need a landscape designer and CAD drawings, but you should have a rough idea of where you’re heading. Take comfort, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Recognize that your garden is a process not a product. A few notes about different kinds of gardens:
-Vegetable gardens needs lots of sunshine, so find a nice sunny spot. Raised beds are great for veggies as they’re easier to keep animals out, easier to maintain and can add great structure to a yard. The regular garden bed is fine too, and can look amazing.
-Flower gardens can happen at the edge of curbs, in front or behind houses, by the shed…you name it. Consider its shape, straight lines aren’t always better. Think flow. Then think about height. If you can, add some taller ornamental trees or shrubs to add depth, privacy and interest. When choosing plants, figure out how much sunshine they are getting each day. Choose plants for sun or shade.
-Perennial gardens (the ones that come up each year) can be great surprises throughout the summer as they all bloom at different times, and are many different heights. Think about staggering your gardens to have something blooming at each part of the summer (i.e. Peonies are early bloomers, Lilies are mid-summer bloomers and Rudbeckia will bloom later).
-Annuals provide excellent splashes of colour and keep blooming all summer. They are super-pleasing and can brighten up any yard in a garden or a collection of pots (be sure the planters are large enough or they will dry out too quickly).
Regardless of what you’re planting, you’ll need good dirt. Er, soil technically. If you can, get your soil tested. If not, be sure to mix in quality garden mix, finished compost and give it all a good till. Now your garden-canvas is ready.
This is the fun part. Try to plant on a day that’s not too wet, but not too hot either. This will reduce transplant shock for your plants. Be sure to water everything very well when you’re done. Try planting your annuals and perennials in groups instead of rows. You’ll find you’ll get more effect and a stronger cohesive garden. More on planting later…
Your annuals, especially those in planters, will need water every day. You need to keep an eye on your vegetable and perennials beds too. In the spring, they may not need water every day, but in the heat of the summer, they likely will. Best to water early in the morning or late at night for best water conservation and for less stress on those plants.
Your garden needs food, just like you. Your hungry annuals need even more than most. See our guides regarding amendments and fertilizers, but you can’t hurt annuals by feeding them at least once a week (we feed almost every watering at a reduced concentration). Your plants will look awesome if you feed and water them consistently through the summer!
Tending your garden is the care and attention each garden needs. “Tending” does sound like a grandma word, and maybe it is, but it’s really about starting rituals of care for your outdoor space. These allow you to see points of stress in a garden, pull a few weeds, catch the new blooms, spot early signs of pests, and all the other wild and crazy things that happen in a garden each day. Try developing a new tending ritual:
-After-dinner walks around the garden.
-Early morning tours with that first cup of coffee.
-Afternoon “sits” in the middle of the garden in the bustle of a busy day.
-A nice cold bevy and tour after getting home.
This is tending. It would be a loss if your garden didn’t enjoy some one-on-one with you regularly. This is what green thumbs learn (on the other hand)!