Looking out at your snow-covered backyard, does your imagination take over? What if that huge expanse of grass could be magically transformed into a beautiful garden bursting with perennials, shrubs, flagstone paths, and maybe even a vegetable patch? With a little know-how and some advance planning, you can turn that blank canvas into the garden you’ve always wanted. Here’s how to get started:
Set some gardening goals.
Do you want to feed your family or create a flower-laden landscape? Think about the time you have to devote to weeding and watering, and what you hope to get out of it. Will your new garden be a relaxing oasis with a water feature, where you can sip coffee each morning to the sounds of a flowing stream? Or do you want to grow six kinds of salad greens?
Figure out how much space you need.
Whether you want rows of veggies, raised flowerbeds or a large collection of plants in containers, it’s time for some math. Using some graph paper or special computer software, sketch out a rough idea of what you have in mind. Mark where your beds will be, and if want to incorporate paths, make them at least two feet wide so you have room for your wheelbarrow or other big tools.
Consider how much sun your yard gets.
For the best sun exposure, plan to orient your beds north to south. Ideally, your garden needs six to eight hours of full sun daily.
Plan to upgrade your soil.
In the spring, you’ll need to test your soil to see what you’re working with. Plan to amend it with compost and other nutrients. Did you know you could begin warming your soil right now, by spreading clear or black plastic over it, anchored down with pins or rocks? After about three weeks, (once the soil is 40 degrees Fahrenheit) you can plant cool season veggies like broccoli, radish and peas.
Start a compost bin.
Adding organic waste to your garden will benefit your soil, leading to more success with all your plants. You can begin composting anywhere, anytime, and it’s easier than you think!
Talk to some experts.
Seasoned gardeners love to share their tips and tricks. Look up area horticultural societies, or seek out a local farmer who can advise you. Ask what they grow and how they started out.
Browse seed sites online.
Learn about what you want to grow, how many days until harvest time and whether you need to start seeds indoors or sow straight into the ground.
Pick your plants
Keep a list of what your family eats regularly. Will you be canning or freezing? Want to try new varieties of tomatoes? This will determine what you plant in your new garden.
Make sure you have all the right tools when you get ready to dig in, and take photos of your progress. Share your success stories with us!
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