8 smart planning tips for your garden and yard

It takes work to maintain a yard that provides pleasure year after year. But with a little smart planning you can turn the toil into tasks that are easy and even fun.

8 smart planning tips for your garden and yard

1. Follow a schedule

  • Plants appreciate tender loving care and will reward you for providing it.
  • Conversely, neglecting lawn and garden maintenance can do lasting damage to the landscape.
  • Protect your landscaping investment just as you would your good clothes, your car or your house.
  • Familiarize yourself with the needs of your plants, including watering, weeding, pruning and fertilizing.
  • Then mark dates on the calendar to remind yourself when each type of job needs to be done.

2. Group plants with similar needs

  • Plants that need good drainage, for example, should be planted together (in a location with excellent drainage, of course) and not mixed in with plants that need very moist soil.
  • Otherwise, at best, you'll be making a lot of work for yourself trying to give each plant just what it wants, and at worst, the garden will sustain some casualties.
  • If you chose plants to match the conditions on your site, you'll find that these groupings happen naturally, but if you bought some plants impulsively and now you're wondering where to put them, this is where to start.

3. Plant what you can manage

  • Because maintenance is so critical to keeping plants healthy over time, make sure not to overextend yourself by planting too much.
  • Fewer plants and smaller gardens make for less work, and if you don't feel overwhelmed, you're more likely to do the work there is to do.

4. Visit your garden frequently

  • Gardeners who spend a lot of time in their gardens notice problems while their gardens are still small and manageable.
  • Regular monitoring is how to detect pests and diseases before they get out of control.

5. Keep water flowing

  • Most garden plants prefer a constant amount of soil moisture instead of infrequent drenching alternating with droughts, and regular soil moisture is critical to establishing new plantings — the first step in ensuring a long life.
  • To make the job easy, install a simple irrigation system (it could be nothing more than a soaker hose winding through the beds just underneath the mulch) and put it on a timer.
  • The watering will take care of itself, and your plants won't have to survive on the whims of the weather.

6. Plan as a whole

  • Don't leave "getting it right" up to chance; get a satisfactory design for your entire property on paper before you turn a shovelful of soil — even if you'll be installing it over the course of many years for budgetary reasons.
  • This approach works because it makes you think about your landscape pragmatically, which will lead you to plant purposefully; it discourages impulsive plant choices and purchases; and it defines your costs more clearly.

7. Consider hardscaping

  • Plants can't solve every landscaping problem.
  • If a fence is really what's needed, trying to make do with a hedge instead may be a waste of money and time.
  • It's a mistake to choose plants over hardscaping simply because they sometimes cost less and seem more "natural."
  • Instead, use restraint and practicality to allocate landscaping dollars where they're really needed.

8. Steer clear of trends

  • It's fun to try new plants, but unless you have the patience and the bank account to withstand high losses, don't build a whole garden around them.
  • Use reliable materials and techniques for the majority of your landscape, so if some small experiment doesn't work out, you'll still have laid the groundwork for a sustainable garden.
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