I am not a “Master Gardener.” Everything that I have learned has been by hands-on experience through working in my garden over the years. You do not have to know anything about gardening to get started. Just start with a plan and go from there. The possibilities are endless.

Planning for your garden is an important step to creating a garden that is suitable to you, with little maintenance. It’s best to plan for each season, so that you can establish a year-round garden. Knowing what you want is important before you begin preparing a bed. Decide what plants, trees or shrubs will go where and why. Ask yourself these questions: What type of garden would I like to have? How much maintenance will it take? How large does the plant, tree or shrub get? Do I want to attract birds and wildlife? Do I want an edible garden?

1.  Research plants. Do not be impulsive; carefully select plants based on the climate in your area, type of soil, growth, growing location, space and care needed. Choosing plants that are native to your area and that multiply on their own will require less care and is more economical. Most plants come with a little insert that have some of this information; however, the best thing you can do is research the plants on the internet, in magazines, books or ask reliable sources for advice regarding the habits and needs of plants specific to your region. Create a garden journal of plants and information pertinent to each to help with maintaining them.

2.  Prepare beds. Prepare bed areas, after you have selected plants that you would like to grow. Healthy soil directly affects gardening success. Use of a tiller is the easiest way to cultivate new bed areas. Encouraging activity of micro biotic agents will improve your soil. You can do this by composting and adding organic materials. Organic potting mix contains live macrobiotic agents that contribute to healthy soil and originate from natural materials.

3. Buy the plants. Purchase plants as early as they become available because they are the healthiest at that point. Most nurseries receive fresh plants in the spring and throughout the summer, and then phase out in fall and winter. Buying prior year’s plants could be problematic because they receive less care in the off season at the nursery.

4.  Add the plants. At this point you have researched your plants and know where you want to plant them and how to maintain them. Make sure you allow enough space between planting for the plant to reach its mature size. The best order to follow when planting is:
a.   Trees
b.   Shrubs
c.   Perennials
d.   Biennials
d.  Annuals

Keep a sketch of what you’ve planted in your garden and the location. This will help you to avoid digging up plants that have gone dormant in the winter but will return in the spring.

5. Give the garden character. Add items such as overflowing planters filled with color, arbors, seating areas, water features and bird feeders.

For examples of garden plans, click on the link below.