Are you hitting the road for Memorial Day this year? My husband and I have decided to skip the holiday traffic and focus on beautifying our back yard over the long weekend.
There's nothing quite like a garden in full bloom, but all that beauty takes work. Fortunately, it's not that hard to turn your own yard into a botanical work of art. Does sprucing up your yard sound like a good idea?
Here are some tips to get your project started:
1.) Prepare your garden
Before you put anything in the soil, you'll need to get the ground geared up for planting. First, remove all weeds, making sure to pull out the roots. Next, revitalize the soil from its long, dry winter by adding fertilizer or compost.
2.) Determine sunlight exposure
Make sure you know exactly how much sunlight each area of your garden gets so you can purchase the appropriate flowers for each spot. Some plants can handle the midday summer sun, and some will die from that exposure. Others will do well in a shaded area, and some need just a bit of filtered sunlight to thrive. Observe your garden's sun exposure throughout the day and do your research before purchasing any seeds or plants.
3.) Pick your flowers
It's always exciting to pick out the flowers that will bring your garden to life. Before you drop a bit of everything into your shopping cart at the nursery though, consider these two factors:
- Annuals vs perennials: There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Annuals include begonias, cosmos, geraniums and marigolds. Though they only live for one season, they are typically cheaper than perennials and bloom all season long, giving you more time to enjoy their beauty. Conversely, perennials, which include tulips, lavenders, hibiscus and hydrangeas, last several years but have a shorter blooming life and are usually more expensive. Do you like to change up your garden every year? Would you rather not have to plant each year? Consider each element carefully before making your selection.
- Variety will make your garden pop. For incredible results, diversify the colors, heights and flower types throughout your garden. Place a monochromatic flower, such as an orchid, near bicolored tulips. Plant climbing roses, or a vine like sweet peas, near a lower flower bed. Use a row of evergreens to create a darker backdrop for brilliantly colored flowers. Invest in one spectacular flowering tree, like a flowering crabapple or cherry blossoms.
4.) Choose vegetable plants
No garden is complete without some edibles. Here are 4 easy-to-grow veggies to get you started:
- The summer squash grows quickly and is simple to plant and care for. To speed up the process, soak your zucchini seeds in moist paper towels and wait for them to sprout before planting.
- Snap and snow peas take several months to grow. You can plant them early in the season; even before the soil is completely warm.
- Sweet cherry tomatoes grow quickly and will turn any salad into a gourmet dish. Choose an area for your vine that gets full sun exposure.
- Cabbages need hardly any care; just be sure to use a slug bait to keep those hungry critters away.
Here's the fun part! Before you get started, though, check your seed packet for the best planting time in your region. Make sure you aren't planting too early or too late in the season.
It's also important to plan your garden in full detail before you start digging. Measure the spaces you allotted for different kinds of plants, and make sure your plans are realistic so you don't wind up frantically trying to undo a half-hour of planting because you ran out of room in the designated area.
On the day of planting, your soil should already be moist and prepared for seeding. When planting each seed or flower, determine how far beneath the soil that particular plant needs to go. Then add fertilizer as per the package instructions, gently incorporating the fertilizer into the soil. Next, place your seed or flower in the soil and fill the hole with soil. Lastly, add mulch to help ward off weeds and diseases.
The amount of water each flower needs for growth can differ greatly. Research every plant in your garden carefully to make sure they are all getting the right amount of water. You can also choose to have a sprinkler or a drip system installed to simplify the process. Weed your garden regularly to keep it looking stunning and always trim wilted, dead blossoms off plants to allow new growth to form. Also, check your newer blossoms regularly for leaning and drooping - they may be in the need of support in the form of bamboo stakes or forked branches.
Now that your garden is in full bloom, pull out your most comfortable lounging chairs, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade and enjoy the beautiful fruits of your labor!
Your Turn: How does your garden grow? Share your best gardening tips, secrets, and advice with us in the comments!