How to get your garden ready for spring | Angie's List, Angies List

How to get your garden ready for spring | Angie's List, Angies List
A well-designed landscape can improve your property value. Landscaping can add 7 percent to 14 percent to a home’s value. But you want the right landscaping – avoid climbing ivy, it attracts pests.

Landscaping can reduce air conditioning costs as much as 25 percent by shading the windows and walls of your home. Plant trees and shrubs on the east and west sides of the house.

Landscaping tips:

  • Annuals die at the end of the growing season and must be replaced the next year. Perennials die at the end of the season too, but re-emerge year after year.
  • Planting seeds is more cost-effective than starting with plants, but not all varieties are hardy enough to survive.
  • Early bedding plants can be planted while it’s still cool. Plants such as pansies, snapdragons, dianthus (pinks), alyssum and dusty miller are tolerant of the chilly spring.
  • Hold off planting new perennials, warm-season annuals and anything that does not tolerated frost until the danger of frost is past.
  • Before you go shopping for plants, consider what kinds of plants you would like to plant. Are you looking for flowers, vegetables, herbs or greenery?
  • Be realistic about your budget. You may not be able to afford it all this month or even this season.
  • Before picking out plants, decide where you want to plant them. Is the area sunny or shaded, or both?
  • If you’re not a big avid gardener, keep in simple with some pretty flowers.
  • Read plant labels. They tell you everything from how far apart to plant, water needs and whether it’s an annual or perennial.
  • Many culinary herbs are easy to grow from seed or from plants. Many can be grown on your back deck or a window box.
  • Prepare and test your soil.
  • Mulch will keep the soil moist and cut down on weeding.
  • Check Angie's List consumer reviews to find the best landscapers in your area.

Choosing a nursery/greenhouse:
  • A well run plant nursery should be clean and tidy with orderly, well-stocked displays.
  • How well are the plants categorized? Plants should be categorized into plants for sun and plants for shade and separated annuals, perennials, etc.
  • Plants should be well watered and cared for, pest and disease-free.
  • Signs should be easy to read and clearly identify each plant. Prices should be marked.
  • There should be an adequate number of sales people to consult with customers and the sales people should be well-informed about the plants they are selling.
Garden Trends:
  • Concerned and heightened awareness for the environment
  • Low maintenance landscapes for busy homeowners
  • Using colorful foliage plants to spruce up monochromatic plantings
  • Plants that attract and feed wildlife

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That's really very nice blog, I am impressed.



Great ....You have beautifully presented your thought in this blog post.



For Cheryl re Tomato plants and squirrels: You've seen the upside-down tomato plants that are popular now. Hang those from a bird feeder pole that has a squirrel baffle on it. The squirrels cannot climb up. You can hang several plants from one pole.



Regarding squirrels: The only thing I've found that works with squirrels is to give them their own, easily accessible, feeding station. They are amazingly persistent little buggers and WILL bypass just about any security feature devised. Use their natural tendencies to your advantage. I've set up a feeder station in a tree and stocked it with raw, unsalted, shelled peanuts. The feeder was easier for them to get to and safer for them, not being on the ground. After that, less than a half dozen bulbs were filched. Squirrel feeders can be purchased at just about any discount or hardware store. Raw, unsalted, and shelled peanuts might be a bit more difficult to locate. Another option they seem to enjoy is corn. You can either use dried corn on the cob, or dried individual kernels. A 50# bag can be purchased at any feed store and will last quite a while. But, if you can find the peanuts I'd suggest going that route as corn can be a bit messy.



If you are new to gardening and landscaping, take a walk around your neighborhood and when you see something that you think is attractive, ask that neighbor about it. Gardeners love to talk about gardening, and they love to share - your genuine interest may be rewarded with shared seeds or even seedlings ready-to-plant and already adapted to your area's conditions. If you want to grow vegetables, find a neighbor who already knows what does well in your soil, climate, etc. If you are growing vegetables to offset the recession, grow what you love and have space for, then trade with someone else who is growing a vegetable that you might find difficult or don't have the room for.



Make sure that you test your landscaper's plant knowledge. An ideal contractor in the business will have some formal training that is critical in helping them choose the correct plants for the right locations. I have seen some terrifying combinations where landscapers just put in anything without being able to project the future growth characterisitcs of the perennial trees/shrubs/plants they install for people. Write down some test questions about some common and not so common native species of plants in your area, and ask these questions during your consult/estimate. Doing this will filter quality candidates for your investment, and save you from future headaches dealing with plants dying, or taking over your property. Remember that product knowledge is key to a contractor's success in his/her business. They must know or be the "expert" in their field to identifiably be able to service your needs as their client.



When contracting a landscaping company, make sure that they know their plant varieties by name, projected growth habits of the plants, and whether or not there are warranties on perennials plants/tree/shrubs that they install. "Landscapers" aren't always "gardeners" and not all of them are well versed with horticulture and botanical requirements for what they put in your garden. Test their knowledge, and you'll save a lot of headaches with problems from your landscaping in the future. Shop smart, and have your questions ready during your estimate/consult.



Any advice for keeping squirrels away from tomato plants? I've tried pest repellants I've bought at the hardware store but they don't seem to work and I'd prefer a natural solution.



You forgot to mention the pitfalls and problems of using invasive plants in landscaping. Do NOT plant English ivy, bush honeysuckle, Japanese barberry... the list goes on and can be found on many websites.

Kay Cardinell


RE: Plants that attract and feed wildlife - we have just about every kind of wildlife possible on our property, including deer. I set aside a couple of special areas that we do not want the deer to eat, start with mostly deer-resistant plants and hang Irish Spring soap slices in cheescloth bags on shepards hooks near the plants we don't want them to eat. This seems to work fairly well and the deer are welcome to anything else on the property.

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