It’s that time of year! Everyone is anxious to be outside getting their gardens and outdoor spaces ready for the growing season. While it’s still too early to plant your tomatoes and petunias, there are plenty of things that you can do to get a jump on sprucing up your yard. And remember – the Casey’s crew is always here to help every step of the way!
Garden and Landscape Planning
It’s always fun to look out into your yard and imagine what you would like it to look like. But before you go out and buy plants it’s always better to have a plan. Think about areas of your yard that you would like to improve. Do you have a bare spot that could use some color? Want to start a garden? Maybe you’ve got a bed established and just want to figure out what to do with it. The first step is to get a general idea of what can be planted in which areas.
Take a little time to measure out the spaces you would like to plant. Usually it’s helpful to sketch out the area with graph paper using the grid to map out the space proportionally. It doesn’t need to be perfect; this just helps you to figure out what can fit in the space.
Once you know how much space you have, it’s a good idea to figure out the growing conditions. Take note of how much sun the area gets – keep an eye on the spot at different times throughout the day. Knowing how many hours of sun the plot gets and at what time of the day is crucial. Morning sun and afternoon sun are very different. Other factors to consider are soil conditions and access to water. If you need to amend your soil, now is a great time to do that. Work in some compost or fresh top soil to get things loosened up. It’s not a bad idea to put a layer of mulch over the top to keep weeds under control too. Consider how much access the plot has to water. Does your hose easily reach it or is the space in a far corner where you won’t be able to water it easily? Maybe the area occasionally floods and needs to have rainwater redirected to avoid it. Thinking about water conditions will help you choose what sort of plants will be best.
Once you have a solid idea of what you’re working with, you can start to think about plants. Make a list of flowers, shrubs and vegetables you know you’d love to have. Look them up to see what they need to thrive and place them in your sketch accordingly. To fill in difficult areas like that spot that’s sunny and hard to water, consider drought tolerant plants. Or if there’s a bare spot that doesn’t get much sun, consider shade tolerant plants. If you’re stumped, we would love to help you figure out a plant that will work best for you!
To plan entire beds, it’s a good tip to begin with larger elements and work down to small items. Start with larger shrubs and plants that take up the most space and fill in with smaller things.
If there’s anything you would like to grow from seed, make a quick seed starting schedule. Make a list of seeds to try and determine if they will be sown directly into the ground or started indoors. The back of the seed packet will tell you everything you should know – especially when to sow. Our last frost date in Central Illinois is usually between April 14th and 21st. Planning around the last frost will give you a good idea of when to sow or begin hardening off seedlings started indoors.
In the meantime you can always get outside and weed. Clear out any undesirable plants and debris and cut back dead matter from dormant perennials and shrubs. If you have any questions about spring pruning, give us a call or stop by the store. If you’re going to compost plant debris and leaves, be sure to exclude weeds and any diseased plant material to prevent spreading later. Refresh your soil and cover with a layer of mulch and you’ll be ready to plant in no time!