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This week I wanted to write about gardening, the weather has been reasonably lovely up here in the Okanagan Valley in Southern British Columbia, Canada. The snow is getting less and less, and the sun is staying up longer, so naturally, I’m thinking about planting gardens and spending more time outdoors. So if you love the “spring” feel to the air, or perhaps want to create it anyway, read on, because I’m going to cover the basic things you’ll want to consider when starting a garden, what types of gardens you can have and some more tips on how to keep that garden feeling 365 days a year.
Questions You’ll Want To Answer Before Getting Started
Gardening can be a rewarding hobby if you take the time to pre-plan a little bit before diving straight in. I recommend asking yourself the following questions.
What Growing Zone?
Each area of the world has specific challenges to growing plants, for example, you can’t grow a palm tree outside in Nunavut! If you aren’t sure what climate or growing zone you belong to, I recommend heading to your local gardening store; most places will have people who are at least familiar with the local climate and can recommend what fruits, vegetables, and flowers will suit best.
You can also consult google, someone somewhere must have figured out what will grow in your particular region of the world.
What Kind of Garden Do I Want?
There are many different types of gardens, and it’s part of their appeal because they can be an enjoyable exercise in creativity. Some basic examples include, but are not limited to:
- Flower – your focus will be flowers
- Vegetable – your focus will be vegetables and herbs
- Butterfly – you’ll be choosing plants that attract butterflies
- Water Garden – the focus will be on a water feature like a fountain or pond
- Rock Garden – the center here are the rock features
All gardens have plants in them, to varying degrees, and you don’t necessarily have to follow a set pattern because it’s YOUR garden, and you are free to plant what you like, within reason. For example, you’ll want to avoid invasive species because the last thing you want to do is devastate your local ecosystem. Seriously, don’t be that gardener!
Another thing you may want to think about is whether you want some raised garden beds, which you can make on your own. Check out a cool tutorial at Grow A Good Life!
Map It Out
Okay, not so much a question here, but a process. I highly recommend creating a map of your space, a sheet of graph paper can be super helpful here, and you can start to plan out the features of your garden. It helps focus your brain a little by putting it down on paper, and I think in some ways, it inspires you to get it all together. That’s why I write down my goals in life, somehow putting them down on paper makes them real and hard to ignore!
Mapping your garden out can be particularly useful when you have a small space because it allows you to think about and visualize how to best use that small space. If you’re looking for small garden space ideas, I’ve included those in my earlier post 6 Fresh Tips For Decorating Small Spaces.
What Do I Need To Buy?
Create a checklist once you know what you want your slice of outdoor heaven to resemble. Do you plan on growing some of the plants indoors before putting them out in the elements? You’ll need something to contain your pre-garden plants so they can grow and get strong for the outdoors. You can also buy plants from a nursery too.
You’ll also want to consider if you wish to have other decorative elements, like a water feature, statue, and paving stones.
Finally, you’ll want to think about the local pests that you’ll be combatting. Bugs and invasive weeds can stick a thorn in your garden plans, so a bit of research is always a good idea! Wasps are a nasty part of summers where I live, so a yellow jacket trap is a must because a garden isn’t any fun if you’re stung! You’ll also want to consider any pest control measures that might harm some of the beneficial bugs (like butterflies and bees) in your garden and choose options that won’t kill them off.
Where Should I Buy?
I do recommend at least window shopping at a local nursery or garden center, mainly because these places will show you what plants you should be able to grow in your local environment reasonably. For the non-plant items, like statues or water features, though, you can find some excellent choices online if not in a brick-and-mortar store. Some retailers you may wish to consider:
- Jysk (Affiliate Link)
- Fifth Room (Affiliate Link)
- Home Depot
- Home Hardware
- Canadian Tire
I’ve included a wide range of options because everyone will have a different budget for their garden, and sometimes it’s nice to review even a more expensive store for inspiration. It doesn’t cost anything to look, right?!
Considerations For Year-Round Gardening
Depending on your growing zone, you may be able to grow plants in all seasons reasonably. Even if not, you’ll still need to consider what things you may need to do to protect any larger shrubs or trees from harsher winter weather.
I started with spring because that’s typically when most gardeners start. Spring is the month that your garden will come alive, and you can begin gardening in earnest. For most plants, you’ll want to wait until the overnight temperatures rise well above freezing, as frost can kill your harvest before it even gets going. However, even without being past the point of frost, you can start planning out your growing season now. Once the snow melts, it’s a good time to survey your garden space and determine if you need to replenish any grass or shrubs.
It’s also time to start planting, looking for spring flowers like tulips, crocuses, or my personal favorite, daffodils can immediately brighten up that dull garden space and usher in spring.
Summer is usually where watering becomes a significant concern, especially if you live in an area that sees stretches of days about 30 degrees celsius. That’s pretty freaking hot for those poor little plants, and they need water.
I always recommend watering in the morning or evening when it’s cooler for them, and it allows less water to evaporate in the heat of the afternoon sun. You may wish to consider moving strictly to mornings only, as this post from Real Simple suggests that evening watering can encourage fungus growth.
If you find your poor plants are just baking in the summer heat, you can also invest in a shading tree to provide some cover.
Fall is a perfect time to set up your garden for the next growing season. Often bulbs can be planted at this time so they can be positioned to bloom after the winter thaw has happened.
You can also plant some lovely flowers like asters or pansies at this time too to add a delightful pop of color to your space. Some of your vegetables can also remain in the garden up until or even after the first frost. Any root vegetables will survive well, but also some above-ground vegetables can survive a frost or two. They will need to be covered if that frost or snow is expected to stick around, though.
Unless you live in a warm enough area where snow and freezing temperatures are infrequent, chances are the winter months will be preparing seedlings for the spring and making sure outdoor plants that need a little extra protection are wrapped in burlap or something similar.
Many plants can survive the winter outdoors if you plan accordingly, so it’s always a good idea to research what sort of care your trees and shrubs might need if they are to remain outdoors all through the year.
Wrapping It All Up
So those are my basic non-nonsense gardening tips, as you can see, there is an element of gardening that is year-round, even if you live in a place that gets buried in the snow every winter. I hope this post inspired you to head outdoors and create your own green space to enjoy nature and warm weather in.
I love gardening because you get to harness some creativity in arranging plants and other structures in your garden, and you help the environment, which is so incredibly important in this day and age of climate change. We need plants to survive, so doing our part to keep them alive and out there has so many valuable benefits to everyone.
Please share this post to your favorite social media platform, and pin it to Pinterest, spread the love. Also, if you have an idea for gardening or want to tell me what your favorite flower is, hit me up in the comments down below, I’d love to hear from you.
Next week I’m doing another decor post, this time for Easter. Until then, stay crafty my friends!