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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Growing Together: Where to start on your garden’s landscape journey
Columnist Joanne Young says it’s a good idea to start planning your garden in the winter, giving thought to its purpose, climate and style. JOANNE YOUNG

Are you wanting to make some changes in your garden this year? Is there something that you have always dreamed of adding to your yard?

Winter is a great time to be planning what changes you would like to make this coming season.

So many times, we know that we want to make changes, but before you know it, another year has passed and the garden still looks the same. 

This is because it can, sometimes, be overwhelming to know where to even start so we don’t start at all.  

Here are some key factors to think about when planning the yard of your dreams.  

Use and purpose

When thinking about changing your garden or when starting a new project from scratch, the first thing to consider is how you want to use the space.

Decide what the desired purpose, or purposes, of your ideal yard are before making any other decisions.

An easy way to do this is to write down a list of everything that you would like your space to include. Even if some of the list seems unattainable right now, include them on the list anyway.

For example, you may want to have a hot tub one day down the road, but you know that it may take you a couple of years before you are ready for one. You should still plan for it now so that you can designate a spot for it.

I find that one of the biggest mistakes that people make when planning their landscape is that they do not plan for future wants.

This is usually followed by “I wish we would have thought of that before we had planted a tree there” or whatever the situation calls for.

Always consider the big picture first. You can then break it down into doable projects as time and budget allows.

Common uses for outdoor spaces include entertainment area, play area, cooking and dining, storage, relaxation area, gardens (ornamental and vegetable) and swimming pool.

People and pets

Next, you will need to think about who will be using the space.

Do you need to accommodate young children, or will it be primarily used by adults?

When you entertain, what size of groups will you be having?

Do you have adequate spaces for dining and relaxing?

Don’t forget to think about pets — animals often dictate landscaping decisions.

Environment and climate

Now it’s time to take an inventory of your property.

One thing to take into account is the light conditions in the various areas of the garden. What areas receive sun all day and what areas are more shaded? 

Knowing this can help you better plan where things should go. You may want a sitting area in a shady spot, while your vegetable garden needs to be in full sun.

Another important consideration is the different views that you take in around the yard.

Are there views that you need to soften or block? Is there a view that you want to bring out in some way?

Take special note of any drainage issues that you have. Is there a place where the rainwater seems to collect? Is there a way to take advantage of the water or is there a need for a drainage solution?

Before you implement any new hard surfaces (decks, patios, walkways), you need to observe the existing grades. You do not want to be creating any drainage issues.

Garden style

You will notice that I haven’t even mentioned deciding on your garden style.

You probably already have an idea of what look you are after, but knowing all the above details first will help you make your final decisions that much easier.

Consider the interior and exterior style of your home and try to create unity between these and your landscaping.

Strive to make your outdoor space one that reflects you and brings you joy.

Joanne Young is a Niagara-on-the-Lake garden expert and coach. See her website at joanneyoung.ca.

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