Monday, August 20, 2012

Three Steps in Planning a Garden, Part 2

Garden Preparation


This step in planning a new garden space is not glamorous by any means.  Digging up sod, moving rocks, removing roots from previous plants that called this place home, and preparing the soil is vital to a successful landscape, but definitely isn't glamorous.


Here in our landscape renovation, the soil preparation is tedious.  Beds needed to be removed, which meant transplanting plants to other areas of the yard.  The beds that are being removed had been in place for 18 years, and the roots of plants had woven themselves into the landscape fabric like a coat of armor.

100_1055  This bed had been terraced with curved edging and bricks that are shown here.  Complete removal of this ‘debris’ is going to make the new area easier to develop.
Grading of the site is very important.  Grading refers to the slope of the ground. Ideally, the slope should higher at the house, so water flows away from structures.
drainage wrong directionThis is Not the direction water should be flowing.  If water drainage is an issue, some of these solutions are available.

drainage 2
Dry creek
drainswater drainage

Sometimes this remedy of drainage is larger than the homeowner can manage.  Landscapers can help at this point in the process. If the homeowner is ambitious, a ditch digger can be rented, and the tubing and gravel are supplies that can be purchased at the home improvement store.

Next step to prep the area is to address the soil needs. This is when a soil test is useful.  Depending on the report, organic matter like peat moss and compost should be added.  Organic garden soil will allow water to drain and yet, keep roots of the plants to be installed moist.  We have added bags of top soil, and worked that into the cleared soil.  Organic fertilizers is applied liberally to the future planting bed.

The garden preparation is now at the drawing stage.  I have found a rough sketch  is helpful at this point.  The dimensions and permanent structures can be indicated.  Lamp posts, sheds, steps, fences, walkways, driveways, and patios close by should be located on the drawing and help keep the plan on course.

landscape design

Marking out the new area on the ground is another way to see the future size and shape.  The planning of trees and shrubs, and hard surfaces can eliminate mistakes that will become obvious later on.


Lighting and irrigation are on the agenda next.  Again, if electricians and plumbers are needed, plan on the installations during this portion of the garden preparation.
outdoor lightingirrigation

Here we marked out the border of this new area, and then we used a measure stick to give us the length.  This measurement of the garden is to calculate how many border blocks we need . (Here is a tip – take a notebook and pen to the yard with you and note these numbers– memories fade when you get to the supply store).

Marking pathways and patios will be helpful in calculating the materials needs.

Arbors, gazebos, and fences are ready to be installed at this time.

Arbors_964gazebos, decks
Let’s recap the preparation steps.  1) Clear the space. 2) Grade the site and address drainage problems.  3) Amend the soil. 4) Draw out a plan. 5) Install lighting and irrigation. 6) Purchase and install hard surfaces like retaining walls, sidewalks, pathways and patios. 7) Add architectural elements like arbors and gazebos.
Finally, the Step Three in the process, ‘Choosing and Installing Plant Materials’. This will be discussed in an upcoming article.  Thanks for joining me today.  What plans have you envisioned for your space?  Did everything go as planned?  Let us know. 
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