By Tammy Sons
When you grab a cool beer or a glass of wine and relax in your garden, planning next year's activities, remember the 5 areas to consider as described below:
1. The overall maintenance needed or desired. One must not become a slave to their garden, rather the master. Basically, a decision at this point of your garden planning determines the steps necessary to achieve your objective of a high or low maintenance garden/landscape.
2. Pest Control is one of my least favorite part of gardening because it puts one into a position of having to decide whether to control pests through use of natural predators or using harsh chemical sprays. I hate using harsh chemicals in my garden and the vast number of suggestions derived from 'old wives tales', etc., are at best not that successful. The most success I have encountered in controlling pests are natural predators such as ladybugs or praying mantis. Birds are also helpful, however, they can be a two edged sword, control the pests and later become a nuisance.
3. If you are starting out in a bare landscape/garden, now is the time to make the proper selection of plants and their needs pertaining to water, sunlight, or shade. For example, you would not mix plants that require extensive watering with those that thrive in an arid climate. Also, to consider are they an invasive species; if so, how can one control them. Another aspect of plant selection is the compatibility of the plants to one and another. A little tip that will save heartache in the future, check plant allelopathy for guidance to plant compatibility.
4. How many times have you heard the old adage, healthy soil healthy plants. Healthy plants are less prone to diseases, attract less insect pests and generally require less water to maintain their healthy status. What does that mean to you the gardener, FEED THE SOIL. Have your soil checked for nutrients or just the pH. Many of your local nurseries perform these services. The test results will reveal what mineral or nutrients your soil is lacking and these missing items are amended to your soil. To keep your soil healthy it is a simple matter of adding organic compost on a regular schedule. When adding nutrients to your soil make sure to use organic fertilizers and not the synthetic fertilizers which can actually destroy the beneficial organisms and organic matter within soil.
5. Remember, remember only try to use organic fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers are only a quick fix and your garden will start needing it on a regular basis. It becomes addicted to it requiring more and more as time goes on.
These areas I consider a major element requiring good planning to develop or maintain a garden/landscape that is easy to maintain, offering greater moments of tranquility to enjoy the fruits of one's labor. I find it fascinating to watch a seedling take birth, break through the soil, and eventually become a mature plant giving us many enjoyable moments in life.