We are lucky enough to live in the internet era where every bit of knowledge is at our fingertips. Adopting new ideas into our lives is easier than ever before. Info on composting, repurposing, perennials, annuals, natives, design…you name it, it is out there. Yet, no one can really give you all the answers. A garden will only be successful if you figure out what you want and what works for you. Obvious questions for the space are:
What sort of light do I get?
What is my zone?
What are the microclimates?
What plants work here?
Let’s look at what is achievable for you. These question will provide insight as to what sort of garden you should be looking to achieve this season.
What sort of time do I have to devote to gardening, realistically?
Is your schedule demanding? Start with a small plot with irrigation or self watering containers.
If you are planner and can consistently squeeze in three hours a week to garden, then you can expand your horizons. This is a very doable time frame for a typical home garden.
What sort of budget do I have?
This, in itself, can be a creative aspect to gardening. If you are low on funds, you can look for free materials, from attending seed swaps, to building with wood pallets, to finding public mulch piles.
If you have the funds to make a garden how you like, there is freedom to choose containers, pre-grown plants, and hiring out.
What do I want to grow: food, flowers, shrubs?
This is a moment to let your inner child run wild. That love of orange and purple with bursts of yellow. Possible.
What is the purpose of the garden: to stop and smell the roses, to create some privacy, to grow my own food, to control excess water with a rain garden, to provide for pollinators with a native landscape?
This is also a moment to create some fluidity. You can intermix herbs with flowers. Perennials, shrubs, and natives. It takes a little bit of planning, but the outcome will truly be a mark of your taste.
What sort of space should I tackle?
Do I want to plant up this hill to stabilize it? Do I want to plant a rain garden to deal with this damp area from my sump pump? Do I want window boxes of flowers and herbs? Do I want a forest of ferns under the trees?
Is this a longterm project or a slow step into gardening to see if I like it?
Am I a complete beginner and taking it slow with one earth box of veggies? Is this the beginning of an entire backyard makeover that is going to take years to come into its own? Am I beginning with trees and shrubs?
Take some time to look at the scope of your space and your head space. You may love having a garden but don’t enjoy gardening. You may get up everyday with garden enthusiasm and find it to be the best part of your day. You may find growing fresh herbs easy, delicious, and fulfilling. You may love insects and want to research how to provide for local pollinators.
I encourage you to find the playfulness and to let the experience be joyful.