Whether you want to grow flowers or vegetables, the first and most important step is to locate the right spot for your garden.
Start by looking at the different areas of your yard. Consider the amount of sunlight, wind and moisture that the different spots receive.
Are there features such as slopes you need to take into account?
Use these factors to pick where you’ll put your new garden and how you will shape it to give the visually pleasing effect you want.
Also keep in mind the overall climate and average rainfall and temperature.
Then make sure the plants you choose are appropriate for those conditions.
The local nurseries are very knowledgeable and will help you to choose plants that suit the conditions in your garden area, whether it is a raised garden or a hillside.
Start your new garden on paper. This step is very crucial. Suppress the temptation to go out and start planting without planning.
Your garden is an investment in time and effort, and the initial preparation makes all the difference.
Map out the areas that have sun, shade and wind. This will help with choosing the right plants for those spots.
Get ideas for your landscape design by looking at gardening books, the Internet and gardens in your neighbourhood.
Take a look at the types of plants available at the nursery. This can give you inspiration when you create your perfect landscape plan.
Finally, make a list of what else you would like to have in your garden. For example, you may want to include arbors, benches, walks or perennial beds.
This early stage of the design process helps to define the goals of the garden and will help you avoid some of the pitfalls that may crop up when installation is underway.
You can have areas for perennials, annuals, vines, fruit trees, shrubs and hedges.
When it comes time to plant, lay all the plants out in your garden according to your plan and make any changes in the placement of them before you put any into the new beds.
For vegetable gardeners, mixing flowers in your garden can help with pest control. Marigolds planted in vegetable gardens can reduce pests in your vegetables.
If you are stuck with a small yard there is no need to despair. Work with the fencing, paint it with a light colour.
Grow vines of different varieties, placing lush green ones along the fence.
Consider placing several potted plants along the fence. Local plant nurseries have lots of interesting pots that can add interest to your fence line.
Drape your boundaries with shrubs and bushes. This gives a plush look to any ordinary garden.
Plant flowers in layers. The layering effect will generate an illusion of space.
A big yard is not always a good thing. A big yard requires more care, more water and more plants, or else it looks awkward.
Using pathways running through portions of your yard can create a crossroad scenario.
Break up a large yard with sections of flowers or create a rock garden with an ornamental tree or palm.
Work with garden beds separated by gravel pathways as a boundary.
Create seating areas in shady places or areas that can take advantage of a view.
If your spring freesias and paper whites are in full bloom or starting to seed, wait until the leaves have turned yellow and the seeds have fallen. This may take time but your flowers will return next year.
Don’t forget about caring for your lawn. It needs attention as well.
Spring is a crucial time to fertilize because it replenishes the food reserves your yard draws from while being dormant in the winter and fuels grass’ rapid growth phase.
Hopefully, you’ve been composting your kitchen waste all year long, and you have the means to make compost tea to fertilize your lawn and garden.
This will produce a thick, healthy lawn that also helps prevent weeds.
And don’t worry: if you haven’t been composting, there are packaged organic fertilizers on the market, but just like when shopping for organic foods, be careful and read the label. Bermuda Plant Nursery, Aberfeldy and Animal & Garden House have the best fertilizer for your lawn.
Mowing your lawn at the proper height is important.
Contrary to popular belief, setting your mower at a very low height can actually increase weeds by exposing the soil surface to sunlight and removing stored nutrients in leaf blades.
Cool weather grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass and fescues, should maintain a height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches. Warm season grasses, like Bermuda grass, Zoysia and St Augustine, should be kept at 2.3 to 3.0 inches tall.
Also, think about skipping the loud, carbon-intensive, gas-powered mower for an electric or human-powered alternative.
• Michele D Smith is the managing director of OBM International/Bermuda. Contact 278-3550.