7 options for labelling your garden

June 23, 2015

Don't count on your memory to recall variety or even species names. Here are a number of fun and easy options for plant labels and markers.

7 options for labelling your garden

Get to know your plants

From seedlings to long-lived shrubs and trees, labels help you get to know your plants better. The more plants you grow, the easier it is to get confused. Labels can make it easier to  keep track of what's planted where.

1. Thin, white plastic labels

Thin, white plastic labels are inexpensive and good for marking seedlings and giveaway plants, but when you use them in a garden with many small plants, it can end up looking like a "mouse graveyard."

  • Still, this basic type of stick-in-the-soil label is handy and versatile.
  • You can write on them with a pencil (easier to erase; good for seedlings) or with an indelible pen (easier to see).

2. Metal labels

Metal labels are a more attractive and permanent option for labelling shrubs and trees.

  • Writing on the labels in pencil embosses them.
  • They are attached with wire loops, which can be loosely tied to branches.

3. Ready-made ceramic labels

Ready-made ceramic labels embossed with plant names look nice in an herb or vegetable garden, or you can make your own by painting or woodburning names onto wood stakes.

4. Bamboo

For natural-looking labels that harmonize with the garden, use bamboo canes.

  • Cut sections to the desired length, angling the ends to form a point that will go easily into the ground.
  • Then use an indelible pen to write a plant name on each cane.

5. Raid the recycling bin

  • Cut plastic yogurt or cottage cheese containers into weatherproof labels and write on them with an indelible pen.
  • If you prefer, cut up disposable aluminum pie pans and write on them with a marker or press hard with a pencil to make embossed aluminum labels.

6. Save your seed packets

For a vegetable garden, save empty seed packets to use as labels.

  • Open the packets from the bottom so they'll be right side up in the garden and then, after you've planted the seeds, cover the packets with transparent plastic bags and display them on small sticks stuck in the ground.

7. Laminated labels

Laminated labels look very trim and are easy to make.

  • Print the plant names on a sheet of heavy paper, either from a computer or by hand. Laminate the sheet and cut the labels into any desired shape.
  • Punch a hole in each one, loop a piece of twine through it, and tie it to a stem.
  • You can either buy laminating paper or have the laminating done for you at a quick-printing shop.

Know where to look

Make it easier to find labels on trees and shrubs by always putting them in the same place — at head height on the north-facing side, for example.

Don’t strangle stems

If you use wire to attach labels to trees and shrubs, take care not to girdle the branches.

  • Loop a length of wire loosely around a branch and twist near the ends to secure the label; loosen the wire periodically as the stem expands.

Label stored bulbs

After lifting bulbs for storage, you can write on them directly for later reference at planting time.

  • Use a felt-tip marker to label them with the plant name, bloom colour and other information.
  • You can also store the bulbs in labelled paper bags.

Neat and organized

It can be easy to keep your garden neat and organized when you use one of these easy labelling options.

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