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Garden Planning

The last days of winter seem to be when we feel we can get excited about our plans for the coming year. I had grand plans this year in terms of career development. Something I had been dreaming of for a year and a half was about to come to fruition. I was brave and I reached for it. And then it didn't happen. And I was crushed. CRUSHED. Time to pivot. Time to make a new plan.

So this year the focus will be much more right here at Soil + Ink Headquarters. More experiments. More planting. More hands-on learning that I'll share with all of you. I have NEW big plans.

My front perennial gardens are getting revamped. They were carefully planned years before I became a garden designer. They gradually morphed and changed and became more experimental. Now they will be rearranged, made more intentional again in a traditional block planting style; planted with species I hope to use in a future matrix-style grand expansion. I'll take this time to learn how these plants perform in my space before investing in the larger, more expensive planting.

My big experiment this year will be a lawn replacement inspired by the native lawn demonstration area at the Native Lawn Demonstration Area – CornellBotanicGardens. It will be in a section of lawn that is used for absolutely nothing and might as well support some life instead. I haven't quite worked out all the details, but the lawn will need to be eliminated soon. The plants are already ordered, shipping in May. The seeds have already arrived. Mulch material is still TBD. The area is right next to the sidewalk along the main road through my neighborhood. Lots of traffic, lots of dog walkers. How will it be received? We shall see. Hopefully the "pretty" perennial garden out front and the exuberant spring tulip display has earned me some cred with the neighbors. So far no complaints about the meadow, but it can't be seen from the main road.

I know I'm not the only one making garden plans for the year. The weather is warming up and all gardeners are itching to get outside and see what's emerging from the ground. This is also when we start planning what we want to change or add to our landscapes in the coming year.

Have you been thinking about what you need or want to do in your garden this year? If not, it's time! Here are a few things you may want to start thinking about:

Photo by Daria Obymaha
  • Soft Landings: If you have native trees in your landscape, think about giving them a "soft landing" underneath rather than lawn -- Many insects hatch from eggs deposited in the tree canopy, and then drop and burrow underground for the next stage in their lifecycle. They can't burrow though thick lawn roots. Replace the grass under your tree canopy with native plantings to allow these insects to complete their lifecycle and reproduce (which is the value of that native tree to begin with!)

  • Expand Existing Beds or Create New Ones: You can gradually reduce lawn by expanding beds a little each year. Some existing plants can be divided to fill in the space. Bed expansions or new bed creation can be done now in preparation for spring planting!

  • Evaluate Existing Plants: Check on the health of your plants and see if anybody needs to be replaced or rejuvenated. Check for diseases or signs of pests. If you've inherited over-pruned shrubs or anyone inappropriately sited, consider replacing them. Some shrubs may just be reaching the end of their lifespan. Evaluate if any gaps in your plantings should be filled in with new shrubs, perennials, or ground covers. Remember, we don't want to see any wood mulch once plants reach full size.

  • Plan to Plant: Get your new spring plantings in the ground by early June. After that, hold off until the fall to do any more planting. It's just too stressful for plants to go in during the summer heat.

  • Order Seeds for Annuals: If you like to intersperse annuals within your plantings or plant a cutting garden, you need to get those seeds ordered! Most seeds can be planted directly in the garden within a few weeks of the last frost date for your area. My favorite is to plant nasturtiums around the patio garden - they're a nice pop of color and you can add the flowers to your summer salad!

As always, if you have any questions about your plants or need a little advice, reach out! Need a little more help than that? Contact me to schedule a garden coaching session or landscape design consultation. Happy Gardening!

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