Pre Spring Garden Planning

How to Ensure a Healthy and Beautiful Garden by following a Few Garden Planning Tips

By Mark J. Donovan

With the worst of winter behind you and the days getting longer it’s time to start thinking about doing some pre spring garden planning. Even Mother Nature has begun the process if you have daffodils already planted in your garden. If you look carefully you may even begin to see signs of them beginning to poke out from the cold soil.

When doing your pre spring garden planning it’s important to think about the types of plants you want to include in your perennial garden and how they relate to one another in terms of needs.

For example, you don’t want to mix together plants that require lots of water and sunlight with ones that require little. This said, with careful garden planning you can provide some level of mixing as long as you pay attention to the soil substructure for each plant’s area in the garden bed.

Drought type plants require some water, however you need to limit their water intake to weekly to ensure maximum beauty out of these types of plants. On the other hand if you plant them near plants that require daily watering you may end up with fungus on your drought type plants. With careful garden planning and soil substructure design you can often get around this dilemma and have a mix of beautiful and healthy plants.

Phlox and Roses are drought type plants that grow rather tall. They prefer water on their roots rather than their leaves. If you plant them towards the back of a garden and away from the higher moisture requiring plants you can water your garden intelligently so that the Phlox and Roses are watered less frequently. Also, by planting the Phlox and Roses in the back of the garden you can achieve some level of layering of your garden plants. As a result, you’ll have less of a concern for various types of fungus and marring problems with these two types of plants.

If part of your pre spring garden planning includes Lavender keep in mind that this plant prefers it hot and dry. This said it can accept plenty of rain and even water from the sprinklers if there is good soil drainage for the roots. If too much water is retained in the soil then the plant will die. Thus include a blind drain in your garden planning to help draw the water away from the roots of the plants that prefer it dry and hot. A blind drain is a drain system that is hidden below the soil surface or is not obviously visible from the garden surface.

Also think about the types of soil that should be used in various parts of the garden. Clay rich soils will retain water and thus it is inappropriate for most plants, with the exception of those that prefer an abundance of water in its root system. Sandy soils are more ideal for plants that prefer drier soil.

If your planned garden soil is hard clay then I highly recommend removing 6 to 10 inches of it and/or mixing it heavily with a 50/50 mix of peat moss and loam.

Rake fertilizer and compost material into your garden in early spring.

Alternatively you can raise the garden bed up 6 to 10 inches and use a 50/50 combination of peat and loam. For plants requiring very good drainage you should also include pea size gravel and sand below the peat/loam mix. The pea size gravel and sand will help quickly draw the water away from the soil and plant root systems. The gravel should be at the lowest level in the garden bed, followed by the sand and then peat/loam mix. There should be approximately 2 inches of gravel, 2 inches of sand and then several inches of the peat/loam mix. A side benefit of using the pea gravel is that it will help retain heat in the garden during the cool evenings thus helping out the plants that prefer dry and hot soil.

For plants requiring lots of moisture apply mulch over the soil to help maintain the moisture level in the soil. You can use bark mulch or even grass clippings for garden mulch.

By coming up with a good pre spring garden plan you can be ensured to have a beautiful and healthy garden this growing season.

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