A Garden Plan For The New Year

garden planner

Every year I try to improve or expand the garden and landscaping from the previous year. The front yard landscaping will be a huge endeavor this spring. I left it fallow over the summer and winter because I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to put in. I did buy a few perennials on clearance over the summer. They’ve since died back or gone dormant so spring will see whether they come back to life or not.

I plan to move slowly for the front yard. It’s very expensive to landscape that big an area. I need a focal point, but I’ve been waffling on what exactly that should be. I know what I want. A statue. But that’s big $$$.

A fountain would be my second choice, though I’m not sure I would pump water into it. There are trees nearby that will shed their leaves over the area and I’m not crazy about fishing out leaves from the basin(s).

Other options would be to create a center stage raised bed in stone or pavers. We priced the pavers last year and it’s even more expensive than a fountain.

Landscaping is such a personal thing. I want it to relate to the style of the house, which is on the formal side, but I also want it to have a carefree cottage feel. This includes having an edible garden as well as a flower garden.

It would be easy if I liked the typical formal landscape with foundation shrubs and trees, but I really prefer to soften the look of the formal house.

I like a casual garden dotted with stone and relics. Aside from me and Greg, we’re the only relics on site. It’s a head-scratcher on what to choose because whatever I choose will have to be permanent. I want it to last for as long as I live here.

Any ideas?

My other big project this year is the vegetable garden. This project is a little more straightforward because the foundation work is done. My job this year is to improve the existing garden. I have 22 beds, all of them with varying degrees of good (or bad) soil.

My goal is to refresh all the beds with fresh soil, compost, and manure. It’s a huge job especially with this bum shoulder, but I think if I do one bed every couple of days (weather permitting) I should have it done by planting season.

About the shoulder: The nurse practitioner I saw thinks it might be a pulled or torn tendon. She says pulled tendons take weeks (if not months) to heal. If it’s not better by March, I’ll go in and get some pictures taken.

Before I get started on the garden I want to test it for ph and nutrients. I took samples from every single bed, but was only able to test a few beds before I realized the test for potassium wasn’t working. (It was an old kit.) I’m waiting for my new soil test kit to arrive.

The only thing I’m not looking forward to working on are the beds where the sweet potatoes, sunflowers, and corn grew. The sweet potato bed is soft and friable, but it has thousands of little roots tying up everything in a web. It’s going to be a lot of work to get it root-free again.

The corn and sunflower beds have become compacted. I foresee having to remove a lot of old soil and replacing it with more compost and fresh soil. I don’t have enough homemade compost ready for 22 beds, so I’m afraid I might have to buy it. It’s never as good as homemade, but it’s either that or leave those beds fallow until next fall.

We’ll see how far I get.

Soil gets used up if you don’t feed it. I’ve been remiss about that the last couple of years. That’s enough to put me in the Gardener’s Hall of Shame. I should know better.

Maria wants to know…
Do you feed your soil and/or plants? Do you plan to start a garden this year?

How does your front (or back) yard look? Are there any focal points or specimen trees (or plants) in your yard? Have you ever thought about changing it?

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  1. Unless you have a specific statue in mind, what about keeping an eye out for when you go to garage sales? I would think they would be cheaper and more rustic, maybe? Or how about a salvage type place? The ones I’ve been to usually have all sorts of outdoor pieces – statues, bird baths, etc.

  2. Hi Maria,
    There are some very interesting and beautiful trees that could be purchased small and allowed to grow and provide focal point. Some possibilities (if they would work in your zone) are weeping mulberry or cherry, weeping spruce or a flowering tree.

    I like the idea from Madeline about looking at garage sales. You could also check on Freecycle or Craigslist…just be careful and bring hubby with!

    I have seen some interesting and unusual focal points in other peoples yards…a flower ‘bed’ where they took an old metal bed frame and painted it with weatherproof paint, build a raised bed to fit into it, and then they planted it with a variety of pretty flowers! A vintage wheelbarrow tipped on its side with a small bed of flowers made to look they they ‘fell’ out of the wheel barrow, a vintage bicycle or tricycle in a flower bed. Go online and look for garden art and ideas…I bet you will come up with lots of inspiration!

    • Lisa: I’m really looking for hardscape items, but something relatively big to make a statement.

      You don’t know me like my regular readers but I am a garage sale queen. Most of my home has been decorated with garage and estate sale finds. Statues and the like are hard to find. I’ve been on that hunt for more than 40 years.

      Craigslist has been hit or miss. If I want to make the drive into the big city I might find something, but more often than not, it’s gone by the time I get there.

      It really has been difficult. A dear friend just sent me some magazines on upcyclng though. There have been more than a few ideas there so I might go that route. I know as soon as I make something, my dream statue will show up! 😀

  3. Well yes I’m working on the garden now – getting everything fertilized but trying not to over due it because this black soil is already very rich. I use chicken, still have llama from the farm, direct compost and natural debris.

    I’ve added a few more beds. Trying not to overload myself this year because there’s still a lot of clearing to do and I hope get a good handle on that so we can put in a pond in adjacent to our creek. Not sure we’l get that done this year but it’s on the list of things to do with everything else.

    But in all honestly we’re still waiting for things to dry out, we’ve had so much rain, more last night and it keeps us from moving forward.

    • Mike: We’ve talked about that. He could build me something in wood or metal, but I really have my heart set in stone (so to speak).

      I think stone (or pavers) is the transition I need to tie my formal looking house to the cottage garden I want.

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