I know you're ready to jump in the garden and get your hands dirty as soon as the sun starts to shine, but taking some time to plan out your garden for spring and summer will really pay off! Not only will the planting go smoother, but you'll have a happier garden with planned colourful blooms and well-fed plants.
The first thing I do when planning out my garden in spring, is to consider what was successful last year. Which plants grew well, were impressive and gave me the most joy in my garden. I'll jot down a list of things I want to repeat this year. Then I can move onto new additions! (Use these free printable garden journal pages to keep track of your garden successes from last year.)
New Colourful Additions to Your Garden
Colour is super important in your garden, and the bright blooms throughout the season are the stars of the show. Make sure you take into account the colour of your home, when planning out what colours to plant. My previous bright blue door meant I could plant a plethora of colours in pots along my front entry. However, when I painted the door red, I found that bright yellows and oranges really popped well in the same space.
Adding perennials this year? Find out when each plant blooms during the season, and add ones that bloom at different times so that you always have beautiful colour in your garden. A little research goes a long way! This also includes grasses, which often will look more ornamental during certain times of the season. You can plant your perennials starting in April. (Take a look at my favourite sun loving perennials and also my picks for shade loving perennials in these two blog posts.)
When adding in your annuals, use the bright colours to fill in gaps in your garden and plan for after they stop blooming. Some annuals will give you beautiful greenery, even after they stop flowering. Other plants may need to be replaced after spring is over. Use annual's bold colours to create a bright, impressive garden with constant colour. You can draw a quick sketch of your garden to map out where you'll be adding in annuals and estimate how many plants you'll need. You can plant your annuals when the night temperatures are consistently around 10'C, which is often in May in the BC Lower Mainland area. (Read all my tips on creating a jaw-dropping annual garden display in this blog post here.)
Mapping Out Your Garden
Creating a sun and shade map for your garden in the spring, is a worthwhile exercise that will pay off when you're purchasing plants. Sun loving plants need between 6-8 hours of bright sunlight, usually between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Noting which areas of your yard are south facing and which are more shaded can help you purchase appropriate plants and save yourself from disappointment later. Also make sure to update your sun map every year, as trees and shrubs get larger and block out more light for surrounding garden areas. (Try this helpful blog post on how to create a sun/shade map of your garden here.)
Let's Talk Soil
Cover up that soil, gardeners! Believe me, bare soil is expensive and gives you hours of weeding duty during the growing months. Use a few more plants than you think you'll need, to create a tightly packed garden that covers up all the soil. Not only does this stop weeds from growing, but also helps keep the moisture in the soil during those hot summer months.
Consider raising your garden beds before planting this spring. I always raise my garden beds up about 12" above the ground, to create better displays and also keep the roots of my plants out of the soggy areas in my yard.
Before planting, I add in 2-3" of topsoil or compost on top of my garden beds and plant directly into it. I always use Sea Soil, as it's a natural product that gives my plants the best nutrition throughout the season. (Read about the benefits of Sea Soil in this blog post here.) Another reason to top up your garden before planting is to cover the weed seeds waiting to spring out and grow! Old soil can contain weed seeds (which can stay dormant for up to 9 years!) and give you a headache later on.
Other Pre-Planting Planning
You might want to consider an irrigation system, usually installed before you plant in the spring, as it will save you so much time during those hot summer months.
Another thing to add to your to-do list, is to check up on your fertilizer inventory. Make sure you've stocked up on the right fertilizers for each growing season as well as the types of plants you'll be growing. Keep a fertilizer for your blooming spring and summer annuals (15-30-15 in a superbloom variety is my choice), as well as a slow release granular fertilizer to keep your planters, trees and shrubs happy (14-14-14). Organic food for your vegetable gardens also will help your harvest later on. The nutrients in soil gets used up super quick, so be sure to start feeding your plants right away.
.Now it's time to plant! A good tip is to have all your plants and soil together and ready for the day or weekend that you'll be planting. Try not to purchase too far in advance, as plants sitting in grower's pots can deteriorate in full sun or shade. Get them in the ground quick and have a great time creating your garden this year!