Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Planning A Flower Garden

Well, it’s almost Spring and time to get started on planning your garden.

So, first things first. Where are you going to plant your garden? What kind of soil is there? How much sunlight does it get? How much space is there? Are you trying to attract birds or butterflies? Do you want a rock garden, container garden, raised bed garden, or just a regular in the ground garden? Do you want a long season of multiple blooms or a quick season? You need to be thinking about these things while getting the soil ready for planting.

Soil almost always needs some help! I took the easy route for my vegetable garden last year and built raised beds and filled them with a combination of top soil, compost, and potting soil. Raised bed gardens are nice because you don’t have to squat to weed or annoy a bad back by stooping over for hours weeding and planting. Plus, it kept my dogs out of the garden area. I am going to make a raised bed out of rock this year for the butterfly garden I plan to make.

If you want to get rid of sod and are not able to (or don’t want to) do a lot of digging, spread newspapers over the area, 5 or 6 sheets deep, and then put about 3" of compost on it. You can use a combination of top soil and potting soil also. In about 4 months, the newspapers and compost will have decomposed and the area is ready for the next steps to making a beautiful garden. NOTE: If the area is covered with vines or creeping weeds, you’ll most likely have to dig those out before using the newspaper method of getting rid of sod.

You will want your soil to be loose so the roots of your plants will grow better and stronger. If you’re not composting, you’ll be digging to turn that soil and break it up to give your plants the best chance of surviving. You’ll likely have to add some organic matter to your soil to keep it from compacting.

If you really want to analyze your soil, you can pick up a soil kit at most hardware stores and run your own tests to see what is needed to make it healthy. Most County Extension offices will also run a test for you, but you’ll wait for 2 weeks or more for the results.

Watch the area that you intend to build your garden in. See how much sun it actually gets and how the rains affect it. You don’t want your plants scorching in the sun and you don’t want them getting washed out by a heavy rain.

Next: choosing plants and structuring your flower bed plans

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