Having a garden is a great way to enhance your life and your landscape, but first you need to decide what type of garden suits you best. Whether an ornamental/flowering garden or a vegetable or herb garden, the first step is determining where the garden will be located and what types of plants you would like to fill it with.
As with most aspects of life, information is power when it comes to garden plants. Talk to specialists in your local area to see which plants do well in your region. Most cities or counties have a Department of Agriculture staffed with knowledgeable people who can help you decide what plants you’ll likely have the most success with. Neighbors with green thumbs and nursery employees are also good sources of information.
You will probably find that there is an overwhelming choice of which plants grow well in your area but don’t let yourself get bogged down in the decision process. Start with selections that immediately caught your eye or that interested you most. If you’re planting a vegetable or herb garden start with the plants that will provide what you’ll use the most. For example, if you love making salads, go for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and lettuce rather than corn, squash, and beans.
If you’re planting an ornamental or flower garden, try to choose plants that will complement each other in color and size for a more pleasing effect. Instead of having three plants that each bloom in small pink flowers, try selecting a few varieties that grow knee-high and bloom in blue behind a row of shorter red and white flowering plants.
Be sure to give each plant the amount of spacing they need to ensure they grow properly.
Don’t forget that different plants will mature or bloom at different times, so it might be helpful to start a garden chart to help you understand when each plant you are considering will be in its glory.
While it may be tempting to choose all plants that bear vegetables or flowers at the same time, it can be even more gratifying to select plants that stagger in maturity - to give you an even longer portion of the year to appreciate your hard work.
In the case of flower gardens consider alternating rows of plants that bloom in early summer with rows of plants that bloom in the fall, or border the garden with small plants that pop in the winter. For vegetable gardens, while many varieties offer food late in the summer and into the fall, there are still several plants you can sow in the summer to fall that will provide you with a fresh supply of greens into early winter.
Also, keep in mind that the easiest garden to keep up with is the one that comes back on its own each year, so, if possible, select at least a few plants that are perennial to make life a little easier in future years.
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