No matter where you live, gardening is an option for you. Even if you have a small yard or no yard at all, you can satisfy your green thumb year round. The tasks you complete each season play a crucial role in the annual cycle of gardening. Whether this is your first time exploring the possibility of a plot or you are a veteran horticulturist, find out what you can do every season to ensure you have a thriving garden.
Take inventory of the tools you have and make sure they are sharp and ready to go for the season. Purchase any tools you’re missing or old tools that need to be replaced.
Clean up garden beds and borders from any remaining seasonal debris.
Get ready to mulch, but only when the time is right. Mulch is not only nice to look at, but adds nutrients and slows down the erosion of the topsoil. Mulch can also protect the root system of the plant. If you place the mulch too early it will actually slow down the warming process and minimise how many of those nutrients actually reach the soil. It’s best to wait until the ground warms up around mid- to late spring.1
Prune your trees. Remove dead or damaged branches to allow for new, healthy growth. However, make sure to steer clear of shrubs and trees that bloom later in spring and will not open until the weather warms.
Use special planter boxes to better utilise your fence and railing space. Rail planters come in a variety of shapes and sizes to work for any small space.
Vertical gardens aren’t just for small yards or apartment patios. They are a great alternative to the traditional hanging basket or desk plant inside your home. Several varieties of plants live well within an indoor space and grow in an assortment of ways. Whether you prefer a draping plant or something that climbs, there are many species to choose from.
Consider purchasing a light meter to determine just how much light gets through the windows around your home. Choose the optimal place for your plant accordingly.
Weeding is very important once summer hits and your plants begin to grow. There are four major kinds: dandelions, thistles, stinging nettles and bind weed. The best way to remove them is with a hand fork. These weeds tend to have deeper, longer roots and any bit you leave behind will regrow. If removed properly, you will notice weeds appearing less and less over time.2
There are also annual weeds that aren’t as troublesome due to shorter roots: bitter cress, speedwell and chickweed. All three are common in bare patches of soil. To remove them, use a hoe in between plants. Given their shallow grasp, the weeds should uproot easily. Once uprooted, you can leave them on the surface and they should shrivel up in the sun.2
Summer days are long and hot and certainly not the best time to water your plants. The best use of water is in the evening after the hottest part of the day has passed and your plants are at their thirstiest.
Window boxes are perfect for herbs and seasonal summer fruit. Enjoy seasonal berries and fresh herbs through the warm season. Make sure you research which fruits and herbs thrive in the confined space of a window box.
Make your small yard look bigger by layering your shrubbery. By layering shorter shrubs in front of high fences or flower beds in front of bushes, you create an illusion of depth.
As the outdoor gardening season draws to a close, consider your indoor options. There are dozens of indoor friendly plants to choose from, but don’t just replant from what you started outdoors. Transplanting your current plants carries a high risk of plant disease or pests.3 Instead, start fresh from a seed.
- Vegetables: arugula, broccoli, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collards, endive, escarole, kale, leeks, lettuce, mesclun varieties, mustard greens, radicchio, sorrel, spinach.
- Herbs: basil, catnip, chamomile, chives, cilantro, cumin, dill, garlic, chives, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Prepare your garden for winter and it will all pay off in the spring. It’s time to mulch again. Place mulch around plants to help keep the heat in and the soul rich with nutrients. Experts say the ideal time to mulch is after the ground begins to freeze but prior to the first snowfall.4
Mark your perennial plants so you don’t forget their location over the long winter.
Don’t throw away broken terracotta pots from the season. Instead, turn them into garden markers or obstructions at ground level to keep pests away for the following season.
Sizeable spaces open up the possibility of big additions, like trees. Fall is the time to plant as the soil is not too cool and the heat isn’t too taxing. What does that mean for your tree? Months of prime root development before the heat rises again.
While you can’t do much outdoors this time of year, think back to what went well when you could. Were certain types of plants more successful than others? What would you have done differently? Take note now because you may not remember the details when it comes time to prepare for the next year.
Consider planting hellebores, unique flowers that open as early as December and may last all the way to April. Plant them in the spring.
Dream big and use this time to reflect on the layout of your yard. Are you using the space well? Think of your yard as just another room in the house and consider all the possibilities.
- Any over saturated and watery part of your yard is still a viable space. Consider creating a boardwalk or an island patio. If the ground is still too mushy, consider planting plants that are friendly to that environment and create a “wall” to block off the space.
- If you love to host, make sure to set aside space for large groups as well as small ones. A charming corner seating area is perfect to enjoy afternoon tea with a close friend. For larger parties, consider the layout for both active spaces and group dining, as many gatherings involve both.
- Estimate costs and plan ahead to catch sales in the off-season.
Opt for low-maintenance succulents that only need 2 – 4 hours of direct sunlight every day and minimal amounts of water. Succulents come in a variety of sizes so you can start small or group them together for big arrangement.
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1 Landscaping with mulch. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/landscaping-with-mulch/project
2 June. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 February 2016, from https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/in-month/june
3 Nickleson, L. (27 February). Indoor gardening: the ultimate guide for beginners. Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://www.towergarden.com/content/towergarden/en-us/blog/2015/02/see_how_easily_youc.html
4 Perry, L., & Grubinger, V. (Winter). Winter protection and other November gardening tips. Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/nov99tip.htm