4 tips to prepare a beautiful spring garden
When it comes to gardening well, preparation is half of the equation. Once you realize what you should have done, it’s probably too late for this year. Because of this, having a garden journal is invaluable for successful planning for next year.
Here are four things to look out for this spring, and steps to make next year even better:
1. A blank slate
By fall, when the bulb catalogues arrive, it’s easy to forget where you planted what. Take photos and use inconspicuous plant markers to remind yourself where you have clusters of daffodils or where you meant to add that globe allium.
Geek tip: If you use Evernote to capture random ideas on your smartphone or tablet, the Skitch app lets you easily annotate photos right on your device.
2. Color me beautiful
Love it or hate it, flowering shrubs give spring in New England a distinctive palette: yellow forsythia, mauve ‘PJM’ rhododendrons, lilac magnolias, scarlet quince and a range of cherry-blossom pinks.
If you have mature flowering shrubs on your property, take note of the color and bloom time and build bulb and perennial planting around a similar color family. For instance, forsythia could take tulips in loud, saturated reds and oranges, or contrast with more subdued purples and blues of scilla, hyacinth, and periwinkle.
3. The grass is always greener
After doing a spring clean-up and seeing bare patches where last year’s crabgrass died out or there is too much shade, one’s inclination is always to want to rip up the whole yard and start from scratch. Don’t. Instead, spread some compost and grass seed now, but make a note to do major renovations until late August, when the grass seed will stand a chance against weeds.
The one exception: if you have a shady area where grass is patchy and you are ready to develop it into a planting bed, it’s easiest to do it in spring while you are edging and mulching beds.
4. Seedy characters
Want to start a veggie garden, but don’t want to wait to buy expensive seedlings at the farmer’s market? Plan ahead next winter so that you can start your seeds in time.
You can use this nifty seed starting calculator from Margaret Roach at AWaytoGarden.com to tell you when and how to start what in your zone. When you do start seeds, mark the planting date on the seed packet and clip packets together in your journal for reference.
The beauty of a garden is that it is always growing and changing. Getting into the habit of recording your observations will let you appreciate your garden's transformation more deeply and allow you to improve it year after year.