It is a lazy summer afternoon; the sky is blue, not a cloud in the sky as far as you can see and your company is a dog-eared book authored by your favorite writer. You have read it cover to cover three times already, maybe four, but it still feels like the first time every time. The setting is in your backyard, surrounded by the trees that you watered faithfully the last few years, and a water fountain not too far away. The wind brings a beautiful breeze your way as the trees sway majestically. You have something cool and tasty by your side to please the taste buds. You invested in your garden, toiled, and nursed the lilies and trees to life and now it is time to relax and let Mother Nature pay you back for your sacrifice and patience.
A recent study by Scarborough shows that at least 164 million homesteads in America have gardens, but only half of these people practiced gardening in the last 12 months. Most people want the perks that come with having a breezy place to rest in their afternoons or to host their summer parties, but only a handful want to put in the work. We know you are not one of them and you are realistic. We know that you know it will not happen overnight, but if you want to turn your bare backyard into a green haven, this simple yet successful procedure will get you off on the right foot:
Four steps that get you closer to the garden of your dreams
Prepping the garden
Every successful venture, be it a business or a relationship, begins with proper planning. A garden is no different. Everything matters, from the soil’s texture to the products that you are going to use. This is the point where you get your gardening boots out, put on some protective gloves to till and fertilize the land, just to get it ready for the planting season. The waste from your kitchen makes excellent compost especially when you do not want to use inorganic fertilizers and lower your carbon print, so save it. The waste from the kitchen forms humus, which is enriched with microbial that is beneficial to your plants.
Do a soil-test
Most gardeners often overlook this step then spend the next several weeks wondering why the flowers they planted are not responding to their tender love and care. You do not want to spend your energy shooting in the dark while a simple soil analysis would have let you know which way to go. When you get the test results, act on them to improve the quality of the soil. Mostly, you will be required to tweak the PH or to improve fertility of the soil. A PH of 5.5 is ideal for most plants, even though others have been known to thrive in soils with higher acidic levels. Livestock manure, smelly as it may be, makes a good layer of fertilizer when laid an inch or two below the surface.
Keep turning the soil
When you deposit a layer of manure beneath the surface, let it rest for a few days under the sun then turn the soil. The manure will have mixed up with the soil. Turn it often to mix it to an even better consistency. A week of this under the scorching summer sun is enough to give you a well-fertilized portion of land, ready for planting.
Transfer your flowers and plants
Your garden is now ready for planting. Transfer your flowers and trees to the garden as per your choice. At this point, you already know what would work well in your area from the soil test. Remember to water your plants without drowning them, and watch them grow into full bloom.
Presently, most people prefer to grow their vegetables and flowers without chemicals. As noble a course as it may be, insects and flies do not understand this, but luckily for you, bay leaves, basil, fennel, and rosemary act as natural repellents. The interesting bit is that these herbs are beneficial to you, so it is a case of killing two birds with one stone.
Your plants are safely in the soil, and you feel accomplished. Big deal! Bask in the glory but after your 15 seconds run out, we will need you to get back on the wagon. You are just getting started.
Caring for the garden
You have several options for watering your garden. You could introduce a drip system that feeds continuous drops of water at the base of the plant, or you could choose to use a hose. Either method works just fine as long as you keep the plants well hydrated.
Pile on the Mulch
Mulching is laying down organic material such as straw and hay on your garden to help maintain the moisture and to prevent soil erosion. It also controls that rate at which weed grows.
Weed is the enemy to your plants, so keep your plants healthy by constantly uprooting all growth that you did not plant. Also, continue layering that mulch as it keeps the growth minimal.
Prune the trees
Prune those trees to get the desired shape and to maintain a dense hedge. You may need to get a landscaping professional to do this so that they remove only what needs to be removed. The leaves that you remove during pruning provide essential nutrients to the plants when they rot. They accumulate nutrient from the tree when they are alive, and when they die, all those nutrients can return to the soil to provide roughage which aids in soil aeration. Simply put, they keep the soil alive. Do not be in a hurry to rake them. Leave them to nourish the live plants.
This far, you have done your bit and now it is up to nature to do the rest. Some plants make good companions for your garden for the whole year while others disappear during the biting cold in winter, only to show themselves when the conditions are less deplorable.
Six types Flowers, Trees, and Shrubs for any season
Flowers are quite choosy of the place they can grow, which is mostly dictated by the weather, but soil also plays an important role. As for the trees, they grow pretty much anywhere as long as they have good care. These flowers and trees will transform your home and keep it looking great for years:
‘Green Mountain’ boxwood
This flower is a darling that grows without a fuss from a pot, it outgrows the pot to adorn the ground with her splendor. It grows into a thick shrub that takes to the skies with such vigor you would think there was a price to be awarded the lushest potted flower/shrub in the garden. A pot restricts it from growing its full height, but when it is planted on the ground; its full length is 5 feet.
Emerald arborvitae maintains its lush green color even through winter’s bitter snow. It refuses to be cowed and keeps the garden company through spring all through summer. It likes company too and will comfortably share its space with other plants and flowers. This beautiful shrub grows into a shapely plant if grown in a container, but if it is set free, it can grow as tall as 15 feet and 4 feet wide.
Variegated Redtwig Dogwood
This shrub flowers early to give you beautiful scented red flowers. It is an interesting combination, with white patterns lining the tiny leaves and red stems shining through especially during winter. When the green on the leaves is at its darkest, the other colors contrast beautifully. It does not grow taller than two feet, but it extends to 24 inches in width.
The Intriguing Lilies
These beauties mostly blossom in summer, with some of the species blooming in fall. They are so colorful and fragrant that only an unappreciative person could fail to notice and love with them immediately. When in full bloom, they show off their notoriously cheerful colors to their less colorful counterparts. You will have a mixture of red, yellow, pink, orange, and white for a while. Enjoy them while they last.
This colorful shrub gets its name from the equally colorful insects that it attracts. The Butterfly Bush grows wildly all year long but only flowers during summer. A grown shrub can measure up to five feet tall and 10 feet wide, taking a huge space and creating a live hedge. It is prudent to keep it pruned to maintain a healthy spread ad to keep it from growing too wildly. That aside, it is easy maintenance and smells good enough to eat.
Harland Dwarf Boxwood
The Harland Dwarf Boxwood can be shaped to suit your style. It grows to a length and width of about 6 feet. As long as it is well hydrated, it grows without requiring a lot of attention. It is naturally shapely and so it does not need to be pruned. All you have to do is touch it up occasionally. Harland Dwarf Boxwoods form a beautiful live hedge and shapely landscape in your backyard.
Every plant in your garden plays its role in not only making it beautiful but also in cleaning the air around you. Plants give us so much yet ask for so little. A little love and care go a long way in ensuring that you have enough fresh air, a breeze for your summer afternoons and fresh cuts for your table.