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Thursday, February 7, 2013

GREEN THUMB - Spring Planting in February

While it's February and that means it is still winter in many parts of the world - here in my neck of the woods spring is right around the corner.  I have big plans for our yard that include a produce garden, a few new flower beds and new shrubs and trees.  We might not get to everything this year - especially since we're trying to do all this landscaping on a budget, but little by little we'll be checking items off our to do list starting this month.

We have a good base to start with and our yard has come a long way since we first moved in.  Just last year, we built a deck, installed a pea gravel pathway, built a garden arbor and added some flowers.  Then fall came calling and I dug up all the flowers I had planted around the trees and replanted them next to our arbor.

I am, by no means, a skilled gardener.  I'm actually pretty much the opposite.  I know nothing about flowers or where to plant them or how much water they need so when I'm about to tackle an outdoor planting project I always refer to the professionals.  HGTV Gardens and BHG Gardening are great resources for garden plans, tips and inspiration photos.  Sprout Robot is this amazingly helpful website for us novice gardeners - you enter your zip code and it tells you what you can plant for your grow zone and when to plant it.

So what's on the docket?  First off, I want low-maintenance perennials.  I don't want to spend a lot of time outside planting bulbs or seeds and replanting them in the spring or fall so annuals aren't really my cup of tea.  I want my flowers and plants to be pretty but with a little wild side, permanent and easy to grow.

In keeping with our established color scheme, we want rich blue and purple flowers with pops of white, orange and yellow mixed in with various green grasses and plants.  This lush, low-care flower bed is spot on. It not only represents our color scheme but also our desire for low-maintenance flowers and plants.  I think this would look great in the space between the arbor and the deck, but I'm not quite sure how to execute it in such a huge area.

Another low-maintenance plan is BHG's ultra-easy perennial flower bed which is a great plan for the few sunny spots in our yard.  This collection will produce colorful flowers and foliage from spring to fall - and keep the maintenance at a minimum.
What's included in their plan? 

As for the shrubs and trees - we're already rocking a HUGE viburnum tinus in our backyard, in addition to one lilac.   Our neighbor has a gorgeous camellia that towers above our fence-line to the west.  It's beautiful magenta flowers blow across into our yard and I want some of my own.  Rather than our neighbors magenta variety, I want beautiful white flowers like the Winter's Snowman, Snow Flurries, or Polar Ice varieties which we'll incorporate in both our front and back yards.

Speaking of the front yard, I found another great plan at BHG which looks similar to ours and our small side yard, which is pretty much just a pathway, that runs along the south-side of our home. Since our front yard is so small - grass just seems like a waste and these sectioned off beds would be a perfect replacement.  The only change we would make would be to incorporate a small garden in the northeast corner (lower right in photo) which gets a large amount of sunlight.

Apparently it's prime time to start planting our garden and Sprout Robot recommends planting our chives, snap peas, and carrots now.  I've never had a garden before and I'm pretty terrified that I'm going to kill everything before we can even harvest.  I've heard that it's best to fully prepare the soil before any planting, which involves fertilizing.  Too bad we never got around to making our compost bin last year.

So what about you guys?  Have any lofty goals for your outdoors?  Have any tips for a black thumb, like myself?  Anyone want to come by my house and help me plant?


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