How landscape plans can improve your garden

How landscape plans can improve your garden

Just because you like to get your hands dirty doesn’t mean you have a green thumb. Deciding what plants go where and how much fertilizer to place in your flower bed can be tricky and that doesn’t even take into account whether and how you need to enrich your soil.

So when Rosa Martinez moved into her two-story Colonial on the north side near Broad Ripple, she called in the experts at Andrea’s Garden Center.

“I didn’t like what was done (in the yard), so they came out and gave us some ideas,” Martinez said. “They looked around the yard and drew up some plans. It was helpful, because in the front of the house we found out that certain types of plants would work best.”

Martinez – like many other Central Indiana weekend gardeners – is gearing up for gardening season, which usually begins in April. Whether you’re a novice or an expert gardener, contacting a qualified landscaping company to get advice on what might be best for your yard is a good idea. They can determine what plants should go where based on sun and soil factors.

“The way they laid it out was nice,” said Martinez, who placed shrubs and bushes in the shaded front yard and flowers and vegetables in the back yard, where there is more sunlight. “They did a good job complimenting what was already there. I think it’s been real helpful to get to know a gardening center. They’ve been great. They get to know you and know what you need. They knocked out the work I didn’t want to do.”

Chris Thomas, president of Indianapolis-based Thomas Lawn & Landscape Inc., said it’s important for him to consult with a customer to see what they want before any work is actually done on the yard.

“Do they want to add some flowers?” Thomas asked. “Flowers can bring lots of colors. You have to decide whether you want annuals or if you want perennials that come up each year.”

Once you have decided on a layout – and before the planting beings – there are several tips to get your flowers beds looking in tip-top shape. First and foremost, make sure you clear the beds of any winter debris, such as leaves or sticks, and prune back any vegetation, Thomas said.

After that, homeowners can gently turn the soil and add fertilizer and organic matter for extra nutrients to aid the plants. You can have your soil tested to find out its nutrient level.

Thomas said mulch is also an important component to a healthy garden.

“It enhances the color of the landscape bed,” he said. “It also retains water. That’s why mulch is not just about color, it has a purpose. It holds the moisture in the root system. I would make sure the amount of mulch you have does not go above three inches. You do not want to suffocate the roots.”

When planting flowers, make sure you know what kinds need sun and what ones need shade. Different soil types can also make a difference.  For example, annuals need looser soil, while perennials are more adaptable to survive in drought or other conditions.

“We know the right plant for the right place,” Thomas said. “This is our business. We employ people year round. The larger properties can take several weeks to get ready. Spreading eight to 10 yards of mulch can take the whole day. People don’t have that kind of time. People go to a doctor because they know what they’re doing. They go to car dealerships because they know about cars. We know what we’re doing.”

Editor's note: This article was originally published in April 2013.

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