Shop smart for a great garden

Make your garden bloom all season

Everyone wants their home to look good. Whether you live in a treehouse, apartment, condo, dude ranch or trailer, you want it to look its best.

Plants and good landscaping are an important piece in making any home look great. A well-landscaped lot adds infinite amounts of value to your home. It’s a great investment. Landscaping can provide terrific street appeal and resale value, but it’s only a tiny piece of the pie. Being able to sink into a well-designed garden is good for the soul. It’s your own private oasis and a place to relax, and that is truly priceless.

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One of the steps to a great garden is buying plants. If you like plants, there is nothing finer than taking a wander through your favourite garden shop on a sunny day with coffee in hand. It’s a great way to enjoy seasonal blooms, see what’s new, what looks good together and what’s on sale.

It all sounds delightful doesn’t it? But please proceed with caution. 

I’ve worked in a nursery for a few years and have seen many people like kids in the candy store. Everything looks so beautiful they just want to grab one of each. The colourful dream of non-stop blooms is irresistible with so many cool things to choose from. And as fun as that sounds, buying nursery stock on impulse can end up costing you lots of misspent dollars and creating a mishmash of plants in the garden.

The savvy nursery shopper has a few tricks up their sleeve. They start with information and a plan. This is key to getting good value, great plants specific for your location, and making your hard earned dollars count.

First, know your conditions. What is the sun exposure like in the area you want to plant? It is important to know how much direct sunlight the area gets per day. Less than four hours or more than four hours is a determinate to help you choose which plants will do best.

Let’s say your planting area is shaded by tall trees and has only two or three hours of sun a day.  Even though you really love roses, this may not be the ideal spot for them. It’s really difficult to grow a sun-loving plant in the shade and it can also bring with it diseases and pests. If your plant isn’t in its ideal conditions, it gets stressed and you will find yourself continually fighting with a struggling plant. Choose plants that fit your conditions and they will thrive

Second, you should measure the area you want to plant. The tiny 4” or one gallon plant you buy in the nursery has the capacity to grow into a 10 ‘ tall shrub. Read the information on the tags of the plant you buy, as it will tell you the height and width of the plant/shrub at full maturity. 

Don’t buy a plant that reaches a maximum height of 10’ if you only have 4’ available. Plants are biologically predetermined to reach their mature size, despite all your good plans of pruning to keep it small.

Measuring your site gives you a realistic idea of how many plants you need.

Third, try not to always buy plants that are in bloom. If you have a good plan it should account four-season interest, a balance of evergreen material and deciduous plants. The ideal is you want to create a garden that produces blooms and visual interest throughout the year. If you tend to buy all your plants in early May and they are all in bloom at the time you purchase them, your garden will be heavy on early spring interest and look a bit blah the rest of the time.   

And finally, take the time to know your soil and learn how to improve it. It’s key to know what kind of soil you are working with (I sense a whole other column), what it needs, what you should amend it with, and how to increase the organic nutrients. Good soil equals good plants.

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@ Copyright Squamish Chief

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