Start Planning Your Garden Now

January is a great month to start thinking about your garden.  A well-thought-out plan is a great help in determining where you will focus your money, what plants you want to add, and where you want to plant them.  You’ll probably also want to review your existing hardscape, garden design, and layout.  Are there beds you want to enlarge or reduce in size?  Are there paths you want to incorporate?  If so, what kind of surface do you want to use?

Creating a Plan

Working up a garden plan is very helpful in determining where you want to place plants, where you want to make changes, and deciding where you need new items.  At this time of year, when I start thinking about how I want my garden to look in 2020, I go out and take pictures of all the flower beds, the front yard, the side yards, the back yard, and any other areas around my property that I want to develop or improve.

Once I print out these pictures, I can use them to mark where existing plants live, all the areas I want to change, and where I need to add trees, shrubs, and plants.  You can also create a one-dimensional drawing like the picture above.

Next, I go online and search nursery web sites. See the blog “Ordering Plants and Seeds from Catalogs”, December 22, for a list of some great web sites.  You can copy pictures of the plants that interest you and place them on a spreadsheet with other information such as light requirements, height and spread, color, and where you found them.  This will help you place the new plants on your garden plan.

When your spreadsheet is completed, you can print out the plant pictures and paste them onto your plan so you can see how they will look with other plants, and if the colors work well together.  Consider layering the plants with tall ones in the back of a bed and shorter ones as you move to the front of the bed.  In a bed that is viewed from all sides, tallest plants go in the middle.

Another great planning tool is a garden planning application (see Resources below).  These allow you to draw your garden on the computer and add all the features you wish.  There is usually a good selection of plants to choose from and hardscapes, fences, and walkways that can be added to your plan.

Plan for all season interest.  If you go for mostly perennials, you will need to pick plants that bloom at different times to keep the color going all season.  Another way to keep color alive is to use annuals among the perennials.  Bulbs can be planted for spring color and there are spring planted bulbs that bloom later in spring or early summer.  Do some of the shrubs have interesting stems that will look good in winter without their leaves?  Are there some plants that keep their flower heads through winter?  You will want something interesting to see in garden all year.

Once built, your garden plan can be used for several years if you need to start slow and develop your gardens over time. I have found it most useful to take my plan and my spreadsheet with me when I go shopping for plants so I can see quickly if something that catches my eye will work in my garden.

Happy Gardening!


Garden Planner

Vegetable Garden Planner



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