10 Must-Do Items for the First 6 Months of Your New Garden

landscape plan

Grow More With Less

This landscape plan features the creative use of low maintenance groundcovers such as plum yew (Cephalotaxus), cranesbill (Geranium), Russian Arborvitae (Microbiota), creeping phlox (Phlox) and sweet box (Sarcococca), which replace the need for a traditional, high maintenance lawn.

Changing a garden from one maintenance plan to another, whether because you have just bought a house or because you want to use more native plants, takes time and a little work. Fortunately, Vincent Simeone, author of Grow More With Less, offers 10 to-do items to make sure you are starting off on the right foot.

The first six months of transforming your garden into a more sustainable, low-maintenance garden should really be spent on planning and design. This would also be a good time to get organized and begin the process of choosing materials you want to use in the garden. Evaluating the site, sketching and deciding what should go where, and taking photographs of each area to go along with your plan on paper are prudent steps. Life in the garden starts in the soil, so the first six months of developing your new and improved garden should also focus on testing and working the soil to maximize soil health.

Things to Consider for the First Six Months of Garden Development:

• Develop a garden plan on paper.

• Take a soil test and have a complete soil analysis on nutrients and soil pH.

• Develop a compost program and add to soil as an amendment.

• Based on the soil test, start to add lime, fertilizer, and other materials to boost soil fertility.

• Make sure soil is graded properly and address drainage issues.

• Make a checklist of specific plants or garden features you want to acquire.

• Lay out and mark garden features such as new trees, garden beds, berms, rain gardens, lawn, and so on.

• Start collecting and aging compost and mulch for use over the next six months to a year.

• Start to amend and turn over soil in areas designated for vegetables or cut flowers.

• Where you’re developing grass meadows or native lawns, kill lawn areas or open spaces by laying down layers of newspapers and compost and plant with a cover crop such as winter rye grass.