The Voice of Nova Scotia's Landscape & Horticultural Industry

10 Tips on How to Design a Garden

They say gardening is the ultimate form of hope. You plant tiny seeds in the absolute faith that something grand will grow. No garden design is ever finished. Plants fail, tastes change & weather is unpredictable. Your garden may not have followed all the gardening basics or be designed on paper, but the more thought you put into what you want and what you like or dislike about your garden, the better your garden will be next year. Instead of resolving to eat healthier & exercise more, make some resolutions for your garden:

1. Learn from Last Year’s MistakesAt the end of every gardening season, look over your list of disappointments and make notes of what not to plant next year or what to watch out for earlier in the season. Then open up my seed catalogs and order things that you know very well will struggle for survival in your area.

Tips for Evaluating Your Garden

2. Start off on the right foot
Now that you’ve reviewed what worked and what didn’t, take a moment to consider what plants will be happy in your garden. Do you have a sunny or shady garden? Do you want high or low maintenance? They say a healthy plant is better able to withstand diseases and pests, so it's best to work with plants that will work well in your unique garden space.
How to Choose Healthy Plant

3. Mulch Early

Every spring wait to see what plants have self-seeded and which tender perennials made it through the winter and will be putting in an encore appearance. Waiting for flower seedlings to emerge means you're also giving weed seedlings time to pop up - everywhere. Mulching also gives your garden that finished clean look.
Which Mulch Where?

4. Become Pro-actively Organic
The New NS Pesticide bylaw has now banned pesticides for cosmetic use so try to do some proactive investigating when planting your garden. Try to find plants that are resistant to weeds and pests. Look at the type of drainage in your garden and coordinate the plants to their environment. Gardening organically can be difficult, so ask for help at your garden centres. Sometimes it can take years to get your garden running smoothly.
Getting Started with Organic Gardening

5. Plant More Shrubs

There was awhile there where new perennials were the holy grail of the gardening world. We went crazy every time a Hosta showed a new stripe. Trees and shrubs were for common landscapers, not cultivated gardeners. Well, have you seen the shrubs out there on the market recently? They're textured. They're colorful, They have flowers and berries. They don’t require months of endless pinching and primping. Try adding more shrubs to borders and to simply learning more about the shrubs that are available.
Dwarf Evergreens for 4 Seasons Structure and Color

Dwarf Evergreens as Garden Bones

6. Use More Foliage with Color and Texture Along the same line as planting more shrubs, I resolve to make better use of plants with interesting forms and texture and perennials with colorful foliage. No plant blooms incessantly all season, but there’s no stopping great foliage.
Using Plants with Purple Foliage
Keeping Your Garden in Color All Season

7. Fragrant Flowers and Plants
There’s not been much point in stopping to smell the roses lately. Most of them have no scent at all. Like a flavorless tomato that was bred to ship without bruising, flower breeders fed out need for longer bloom periods and larger flowers, at the expense of fragrance. However, some want the same thrill when the lilac buds start to open, every time they walk into a garden. I’m going to be looking for seeds of old-fashioned flowers that perfume air.
Fragrant Flowers and Plants
Top Fragrant Roses
Lemon Scented Herbs

8. Be More Daring with Containers
Too often my containers are used to house plants that I couldn’t find a spot for in the border. There’s not much planning or thought behind my combinations when that happens. Even when I plan, I tend to hedge my bets with plants I know will perform long and well in a pot. This year I want to use a little abandon with my containers. I think I’ll allow impulse to point me toward brazen and potentially ridiculous plants, just to see how they work out. 
10 Tips for Great Containers
Growing Vegetables in Containers
Ornamental Grasses for Containers

9. Push my Vegetable Garden to the Limit
Vegetable gardens are becoming a big thing in Canada. There's something very satisfying to growing your own vegetables, fruit or herbs. Let’s face it, half the fun of vegetable gardening is harvesting baskets of produce. So if you can't eat it all there are plenty of places to donate what you can’t use?
A Long Producing Vegetable Garden
Vegetable Gardening in the Cooler Seasons

10. Plan for Fall in the Spring
Fall bloomers are a hard sell in the spring. We want instant gratification after a long, dull winter and a bunch of plants that languish for 3 months of the growing season just don’t have that great an appeal. But fall is such a beautiful season and the garden can really come back to life as the cooler weather sets in. This year I’m going to hunt out plants that bloom, fruit and flare into color in the fall. And to complement that I’m going to plant pumpkins, winter squash, gourds and corn - just for the stalks. They’ll be no need for inflatable Halloween decorations in my yard!
How to Plan for a Fall Garden