Prior to starting any project, you will want to take an inventory of what you already have in your landscape. Nature certainly doesn’t waste anything, so why should we. We need to determine the existing conditions for the right layout and the most appropriate selection of plants.
It’s also important to identify what the desired end use for your landscape may be. Many people are accustomed to the idea of a green lawn being a constant component of a landscape, but if you are constantly replanting grass in areas of a landscape that face a large amount of travel, or areas which have proven to be “hard to grow” areas, it might be time to look at ground cover alternatives.
When getting started it is important to consider the following:
- Soil Type
- Sun Exposure
- Wind Exposure
- Drainage and Sloping
- End Use of Landscape Outdoor Spaces
- Site Plan
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A properly designed garden will be not only be beautiful but functional, follow these guidelines:
- Gardens should provide a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the season.
- Use as many natives plants as possible.
- Plant flowers with a range of shapes and sizes.
- Provide food sources (host plants) for benefical insects.
- Provide water.
- Provide sites and materials for nesting and overwintering of insects and wildlife.
Water-efficient plants come in all shapes, sizes and colours, so knowing the look and feel you want in your landscape will guide your garden design. Gardens can be created for many purposes such as attracting pollinators, areas for children, or an oasis away from the city.
Match plants with site and soil
Selecting the right plant is about matching its needs to the sunlight and soil conditions of the location to be planted. Determine if the area is shady or sunny and if the soil type is more clay or sand.
Non-invasive Ontario native plant species, and drought tolerant plants, thrive in local conditions; this means less water, easier care, fewer pests, and less reliance on pesticides. They require minimal watering and very little maintenance. For assistance in finding specific drought tolerant or native plant selections please visit inquire with professionals at your local lawn and garden centres.
Mulch is one of the best things you can do for your gardens. It controls weeds, keeps moisture in the soil and improves the health and appearance of your garden. To get the most out of mulch, place 5 – 7 cm on top of your soil and around your plants, shrubs and trees. Do not pile mulch high around plants, as this can create disease and rot problems. Do not apply mulch too thick, or over apply every year, as this creates a thick layer that water and air can not penetrate.
The amount of water added to your gardens will be based on the type of species present. Grouping your plants according to the amount of water they need will reduce any excess watering. If you have a favorite plant that needs extra water, plant it near your rain barrel or hose. This way, you will not have to walk far for watering.
Watering drought tolerant plants, deeply, once a week for the first 3-4 weeks will help them get established. Once they are established, water only when needed. If there has been an extended time without any rain, you may want to add supplementary water for your plants. It is normal for your plants to look wilted on a hot summer afternoon. This is a natural adaptation to the heat. Once it cools off at night, the plants will perk up again. If your plants are wilted at night, then they need a deep soak.
The best time of day to water your gardens is first thing in the morning. Watering at night is an alternative, but make the effort to ensure the water is added to the soil, not onto leaves and stems. Wet leaves and stems make an ideal environment for pests such as slugs and earwigs, as well as moisture loving plant diseases.