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Vermont Garden Journal: Tips For Planning Your Spring Garden Now

U.S. Public Domain
With Spring only 82 days away, it's never too early to begin planning or editing your garden.

During this holiday week, many gardeners have some free time. After the rains melted much of our snow cover, it's a good time to think about some spring projects. Spring is only 82 days away.

When considering making or remaking a garden, the first thing I always ask clients is how is this space used? Do you have kids or grandkids that need space to run around? Do you have outdoor pets? Do you entertain or cook often in or near the garden? Basically, before you go designing a new garden space, think about how you live in your yard. That will determine some of what you plant and where.

In a new space, consider large plantings first, such as trees, shrubs and large perennials. These will be the garden anchors. Consider how these plantings will interact with your house, walls or other structures. Select the right plant for the right place, then think about ultimate size and width, berries, fall foliage, bark color, and nesting and food potential for wildlife. Now select perennials, annuals and edibles that have color schemes you like and ones that work with the larger plants. Remember the foliage color is as important as flower color. For example, red, yellow or orange flowers will pop when planted in front of a purple leaved shrub such as 'Diablo' ninebark.

Don't forget ground covers. We've become a mulch crazed culture, but really plants are the best mulch in your garden. Try less aggressive ground covers such as lamium, Meehan's mint, alpine strawberry and lungwort to fill in the spaces.

For an existing garden, be an editor. Take a look at photos from last year to see what worked and what didn't. Sometimes just moving a perennial or adding a new annual here or there can make a big difference.

Now for this week's tip: save cardboard from your holiday gifts for use as pathway mulch in your garden this year. Remove the tape and store the cardboard in a dry area.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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