Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Gardening Help

I've been trying to make the yard a little prettier. Alec does a really good job of keeping it neat - now I want it to have some color, too. Only problem is I'm no gardener. I don't know much about what plants to put where so I usually do nothing. I know I can learn, but I haven't had much time or desire until now. Plus, I'm a detail person and rather than just getting started with something I plan and plan and end up doing nothing.

Yesterday I planted impatiens in the backyard. I know they are hardy and like partial sun/shade and they grow really big. I don't think they're that hard to take care of either, so it was a good plant to begin with. Now I need a little help from you all.

What should I plant here?
front corner 1

As you can see, there is a nice bunch of peonies, a few irises and a little tree that will not be giving substantial shade for another 20 years. This area is in full sun all the time and the soil is pretty normal - not too sandy or clay-y (is that a word?). I'd like some perennials so I don't have to re-plant every year - maybe a larger scale bush or clump of something too. I'm working on reclaiming a little more from the yard each year. Last year I weeded out this area and last week I cleaned it up and started claiming an extension next to it. I want to double the area this year.

Also, there's the back door area:
back door
It was starting to look a little white-trashy. Yesterday I got rid of the shelf thingy and removed all the weeds and rogue grass. If left alone, this area becomes an ant haven. The soil is pretty much the same as in the front. This area gets a lot of sun as well, but a little shade (I think in the morning - I'm so unobservant) since it's right next to the house. I think maybe some daylilies would be good here. I tried that before but didn't take care of them so they never returned.

I think I need to enrich the soil and I'm working on a compost. We have one of those compost thingies that you put stuff in and then turn the handle every day. Last year we didn't put the right stuff in and it never turned out. I'll try again this year with kitchen scraps and grass cuttings - no seedpods from the sweetgum tree!

So, here's your homework. Give me ideas for what to plant. Advice on care is good too. Thanks!


Gayle and Rob said...

Mmmm! This I like! I've been away from the North for 11 years now, so I can't give specific plants & shrubs for you to use. I can tell you what plan of action I'd take. Here goes...I would take the kids and walk around a local nursery (I think I saw a big one on US 1?). Kids in a stroller will get you lots of help, I bet! Get an idea of shade & sun plants, taller and shorter, leaf colors, etc. Try to think in layers, especially for the front corner area. Bigger plants / shrubs in the middle, layered down to annuals & ground cover around the edges. Maybe even a raised bed in the middle with brick or timbers to lift it up??? Think 3-dimensionally...Get a couple of good plant & garden books from the library, ones that target your area. Start making a list as you look at things - leaf color, height, sun/shade, etc. You want fauna that will give you color all year around ideally. Some shrubs have red stalks that are eye-catching even in the winter; others have berries that last thru the winter. I'd put all my research on a spread sheet, but then I love working with spread sheets! Then start drawing some plans. You have a bird bath in the back yard; think about tying that into your landscape plan with some plantings around it. You'll probably have to think long term -several years- because of budget and back. Heavy or compacted soil will need compost. You're on the right track there! The wall behind your shelf thingy looks perfect for a trellis. Clematis? Climbing roses? Honeysuckle? Sweet peas? Know a good carpenter for a trellis? I'd put some annuals down for color and get to know the plants and possibilities first. I'll bet you a donut that there are people at church that have perennials in their yards and would give you cuttings or bulbs. And where will you put the rasberries? :) Let us know what you find.

Gayle and Rob said...

...one more thing. E-mail Sarah Karkosh in Iowa. She has great gardens and I'm sure would love to share ideas.