Tips for Starting a Garden
LESLIE: Ron in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
RON: Leslie, I’m trying to find out how to work on a landscape during the winter time in Michigan and I’m a novice at this and I …
LESLIE: So are you looking to start from scratch or are you looking to work with what you have or are you trying to preserve what you’ve got through the winter season?
RON: Starting from scratch?
LESLIE: Whoo. All new plants or sort of trimming back what’s there and adding to it?
RON: I’m going to develop a new plot; probably, I was thinking, something four feet wide. I didn’t know if it was going to go in a circle. I guess it depends on what designs I run across and, as far as being in Michigan, what type of plants would I get, you know, or what ideas could I get from that. So you can see I’m kind of struggling where to start.
LESLIE: Well, I think your best bet, Ron, is number one, head to the magazine stand and look at a ton of exterior garden design magazines and just start taking a look at what sort of layout, what type of plants, what colors, what sort of feel or motivation or movement inspires you in what you see and might work for what you’ve got in your yard. And then I think, you know, March/April is a good time to start thinking about actually planting things.
And I think at that point you might want to sit down with a landscape designer or a garden designer because, number one, they’re going to know the best plants for your region since you and I both don’t know that answer. They’re going to know what’s going to work well, what’s going to require a minimum amount of water, less maintenance; especially if you’re not so skilled in the garden area at this point. And I think if you work with a pro initially and learn about the process, learn about the plants, learn about the maintenance and then go ahead and take it on your own after that.
You know, the start-off point is the hardest and, really, the biggest problem is soil cultivation. You want to make sure that the soil is prepped and ready to, you know, take all of those plantings because you don’t want to put a plant into, you know, non-nourished soil that’s not going to thrive and then you’ll end up wasting your investment. Plus, a lot of these garden centers and a lot of these pros will ensure the plantings. So if you go to the store and buy a plant and plant it yourself and it dies, you’re out whatever the money it was to do that. If a pro comes in and does it and it doesn’t stand up so well, even up to a year a lot of these folks will replace it. So it might make sense to do that initial investment with someone who can help you get the best results and then take it from there.
RON: What if you really didn’t want to, you know, involve a professional? Is there another way to, you know, scour the web or someplace to that would show, for my area, what’s available?
LESLIE: Oh, absolutely. Do you have a favorite local garden center that you know of in your area? Find somebody locally. Like we have one in my neighborhood called Hicks and when everything is going all completely blooey in my backyard I head over there. I say, you know, “We’ve got this shady area. It’s not working out. What can I do?” They know where I live. They know what type of plants work well for the region. So they really can help me through the process and through all of that, you know, in the few years that we’ve owned the house, we’ve cultivated quite a nice little garden back there; really based on the knowledge of all the folks at the garden center. So they really are a good resource and in the winter it’s kind of slow over there so you can head over and spend a lot of time brain picking.
RON: OK. That’s an idea.
TOM: There’s a good place to start.
Ron, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.