Simple Habits That Would Make Gardening Easier
Here are my suggestions toward more rewarding landscaping in the New Year. I hope you find them useful.
• Garden from a landscape plan. It doesn’t have to be formally drawn by a professional (although that’s always best), but that plan will be the roadmap for your journey. Without it, you’re almost sure to go off course somewhere along the way.
• Find out all that you can about each plant before you buy. Impulse buying can lead to disasters. How tall and wide will it grow? What kind of exposure does it like best (sun or shade)? How well will it survive our soils, our heat and our cold? Know before you grow.
• Good soil preparation is a key to success. Organic matter improves any type of soil – sand or clay. Smaller plants such as flowers, vegetables, groundcovers and low-growing shrubs deserve the best possible bed preparation with several inches of organic matter (peat, compost, rotted manure, pine bark mulch) rototilled into the top foot of soil. If you’re amending a clay soil, also include 1 inch of expanded shale with the organic matter. Because their roots spread far and wide, larger shrubs and trees need to be adapted to the native soils in your area. Don’t worry about amending their planting soils.
• Water new plantings by hand. Don’t count on sprinkler irrigation alone to keep them alive for the first couple of years. Their roots will be, for the most part, in the original soil balls, and that soil mix was prepared to be very lightweight and porous for ease of handling and to minimize freight costs. Use a water wand and water bubbler to soak them by hand every two or three days during the growing season.