When it comes to gardening, I really don’t know what I’m doing. It’s pretty pathetic. Hence today’s “Gardening For Dummies” post. So for those of you who are gardening pros (or novices since that’s a step up from a gardening dummy like me), feel free to skip on over this post and return tomorrow for our regularly scheduled programming. But today, we’re talking about how to start a new garden bed. When it came to planting the shade garden in front of the new garden fence, I called in the big guns, my mom, who helped me put this together:
Thank goodness for moms!!! She stepped me through all the basics, which we’ll get to in a moment. My mom is awesome! She came down Friday morning, helped me dig and plant my garden, and even forked over the dough for the plants (all of which was my early birthday present). Her only request was to do my homework and find a few pics of shade gardens that I LOVED! Easy enough. I knew I saved all those old magazines and clippings for a reason.
The area of the yard we were planting a garden was along the fence that Colby and I built last month. The game plan was to plant a multi-level, free-form kind of garden, full of perennials and blooms, which eventually would fill in and look super lush. There are two sides of the fence that both need some gardening. Fence stage left:
And fence stage right:
My mom came and helped me with fence stage right. We figured that it would be reasonable that we could plant the right side of the garden that day. Planting both sides would have been pushing it. So for the left side of the fence, I’m on my own. Hopefully I can survive without my mommy. But I’m planning on replicating what we did on the right side of the fence.
So here’s what I learned in our little gardening adventure (warning…this is super riveting stuff). Step 1…dig up the sod.
And no, it is not appropriate to just skim the top of the dirt to remove the grass (my old remove the sod method). You really have to dig into the dirt, softening it and mixing it, and picking out ALL of the grass so it doesn’t come back into your garden. And you see that little dirt trench? I learned that if you dig a little trench, it helps prevent the rest of the lawn from growing into the garden if you decide to forgo the garden edging route.
Thanks to a little help from Colby and the rototiller, it didn’t take us terribly long and the dirt was super soft and less clay-like. We also had to be super careful around the roots of the tree to be sure not to kill it.
Step 2: mix in some good, nutrient dirt with the lawn soil.
I even learned how to open bags like a champ…the stabbing method is my new favorite thing in the world! Pow, pow! It’s so easy to stab the bag and rip it apart than it is to cut the top off, flip it, and dump it.
Step 3: mix the dirt. Thoroughly mix the dirt. We used a potting soil meant for veggie gardens so it has plenty of nutrients in it for the new plants. AND it just looked so much better and yummier (for plants…not Angies…just thought I should clarify) than our basic yard dirt.
The next step was the best step…SHOPPING! We went to our local greenhouse and skipped the big box stores. While the big box stores tend to be a hair cheaper, their plants aren’t always as localized as local greenhouses which often carry healthier looking plants too. Besides, I would SO much rather buy from a family business than Lowes any day! What can I say, I’m a buy local girl!
After shopping, came lunch (obviously) and then Step 4: Laying out the garden.
This is important and also something I’ve never really done before. While the plants are all still in their pots, lay them out in the garden bed to get a feel on how everything fits together. I’m so glad that we did this because we learned that we did not, I repeat, did not get enough plants. We were missing a solid layer of flowers. So we went back to the store and came back with 8 more daisy plants.
And the final step, planting. I apparently skipped planting progress photos so here’s the final shot.
What you missed (again…riveting stuff here) dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s pot, remove plant from pot, break up the root ball some, put plant in ground (roots in the ground just to be specific), fill around plant with dirt, pack dirt around plant, repeat. And finally give the entire garden a good soaking. I’ve never done the breaking/scratching the bottom of the root ball part before. That was new to me. I typically just plop the entire thing into the ground straight outta the pot (I told you I was pretty special in the gardening department). But I guess it helps the roots break free and expand out into the soil to get a solid grip to hold up the plants.
So here’s what the garden looks like as you creep over towards the hammock (that Colby’s Grandma Barb made for us FYI….yes…MADE for us…she’s awesome).
See the random mound of dirt? That’s going away in fence garden phase 2. And I’m also thinking of continuing the garden right along into the curve. I think it will look so awesome once everything is lush and full and curved around the trees. Here’s a step back a bit with our lawn still under construction.
And even further back so you can get the full monty of our long and skinny backyard.
It’s hard to see the shade garden in that pic, but it’s there, trust me. As for next steps, I would love the remove the dirt from that hump, garden through the curve, and then also plant a similar garden on the other fence half. And it’s supposed to be super gorgeous and perfect gardening weather here this weekend so maybe I’ll get to it. BUT we also just bought a new truck so we’re feeling a little broke these days so maybe it’s thrifty yard projects for awhile since plants aren’t cheap! But we’ll see. And as always, we’ll keep you posted!
Pssst…okay pro gardeners, now that I’ve bored you to death with my “I’m a beginner gardener” spiel, what are your gardening tips? Feel free to share your favorite gardening secrets in the comments section!