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Planning a Garden

February 28, 2024
Written by The Eising Team

Spring has almost sprung, so now is the time to draw up a plan to map out what your garden will be. Whether it’s a brand new garden or an update to an existing plot, it’s fun and useful to dream about what’s possible as we head into the garden season here in Southern Ontario. 

While it’s tempting to come straight into the garden centre and start buying plants, a little planning will pay off in spades. If you haven’t started a garden journal yet, this is the time! Begin this season with a plan, and then be able to track your progress. A journal is a useful tool to record what works, and what doesn’t. It’s also a great way to remember plant sources and where you planted things. ‘Where did I bury those tulip bulbs?’  For vegetable gardens, it’s the ideal way to track crop rotation.

Whether you’re planning one garden bed or an entire yard, here are the steps designed to guide you through the process.

1. Uses

Take a look at your space, and think about what you want it to be used for. Dining or entertaining, relaxing, a shady corner, vegetables, or a sunny flower border. Oh, the possibilities!

2. Measure and Map - Don’t Skip This One!

No professional would miss this step and you shouldn’t either. Grab a tape measure to measure and map out your space. Note anything that will border the garden, like windows, fencing, a gate, or a downspout. Include any views you want to draw attention to or hide. It helps to sit in the current space and note what you like or dislike about what you’re seeing from various angles.

Your final map will be used as a template, so it is recommended to create multiple copies. To represent objects and plant material, you can simply add circles as placeholders. Don’t hesitate to experiment with various ideas! Take inspiration from gardens that you admire. Keep using the templates and adding circles that represent items you would like to include.

3. Explore Layouts

Would you like to create a path through your garden? If so, where would you like it to go? Do you prefer a meandering or straight path? Would you like to add a patio or a water feature? These are the items that will affect the use and flow of your garden.

4. Consider What Will Grow

Once you have a space mapped out, and you know what you would like to use it for, consider what will best grow in this location. Is the spot exposed to wind and in need of something to block it? Or in need of some privacy. Is it a south-facing location that requires sun-loving or drought-tolerant plants? Or is it a shady area under mature trees? That spot where rainwater collects might be perfect for a rain garden.

5. Features and Focal Points

Next, add a feature plant like an ornamental tree or shrub. Or maybe a vertical structure like an arbour, a statue, or a birdbath. This feature plant or structure becomes the focal point that draws your eyes to the garden and adds visual interest. If you don’t know exactly what you’ll put there, just draw a circle on your plan that will allow space for a feature. At this point, your plan is just a means to develop ideas.

6. Now You’re Ready to Select Plants

Begin to fill in the spaces surrounding, paths, patios, and features with smaller items like patio pots and plants. Use our handy online Plant Finder to search for plant ideas. 

Be sure to consider the height and width of each fully mature plant. Trees, shrubs and perennials often start out much smaller than their mature size, and the temptation will be to plant them closer to each other than they should be. Resist doing this! There will be gaps during the first season or two. Luckily, annual flowers, vegetables, and herbs will easily fill in spaces until your perennial plants and shrubs mature.

You may not know exactly what to put in these spaces yet and that’s okay. Just keep adding circles to your map to show the areas where plant material, or a patio, wall or fence will go. Then bring your Garden Journal with your sketches into the garden centre and talk to our staff about choices. We look forward to seeing you soon!

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