Tips for Foolproof Gardening

Creating a beautiful garden doesn't require years of experience, constant care or a "green thumb." It's more a matter of careful planning and choosing proper planting material. To help you achieve outstanding results, our nursery professionals offer these basic guidelines:

  • Select a location with good drainage and sufficient sun. Soil that already has plenty of organic matter, ample nutrients and a consistency that allows good air and moisture circulation, as well as good drainage, is a strong foundation for roots and requires little pre-planting attention.
  • If your soil is claylike and heavy, spade or rototill it to a depth of 12". Then mix the soil with an equal amount of peat moss, compost, sand or other light material.
  • Even if your garden has good soil with adequate drainage, the bed should be worked to a depth of at least 12" before you plant your new perennials
  • Cover your beds with a 2-4" layer of mulch so the soil will retain moisture and reduce weed growth. Be careful not to bury your plants.
  • Don't try to fill every available spot at one time. Most perennials multiply and expand annually. Until then, use annuals to fill in around your perennials.
  • The best effect comes from massing several similar plants together. Group a minimum of three plants of a single variety in one area.
  • Think in terms of three growing heights--background, middle ground and foreground. Taller plants should go to the background, with lowergrowing plants in the foreground.
  • When mixing perennials, consider the types of foliage as well as the color and shape of the flowers. The most beautiful perennial beds contain a mixture of different foliage hues and textures.
  • Consider seasons of blooming. Mix perennials with different blooming times in each bed so you'll have a continuous display of color for an extended period.
  • All perennials look best when plants are staggered in an irregular pattern.
  • Consider the amount of sun your garden will receive--not just in the spring, but during the summer and early fall when surrounding trees have their full foliage.
  • Don't overlook the reflected light and heat that plants will receive. Perennials planted too close to the south or west sides of a building where heat and light are bouncing off the surfaces may deteriorate quickly.
  • Choose planting locations with access to water.
  • Be patient! It takes time for perennials to develop strong root systems and produce sizable top growth. Most of the illustrations in our catalogs show how perennials will look after they've had three years to mature in a garden. Much of the joy in creating a beautiful perennial garden is watching your plants grow. The years of charm and beauty they will bring to your garden are well worth the wait!

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