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So You Want to Start a Garden

It’s time to start your garden, but before you start purchasing plants and flowers from your local nursery, ask yourself these questions:

What type of exposure do you have?

Each plant you’re considering has different needs when it comes to sun and water. Does your backyard have full sun, filtered sun or mostly shade? Does your yard face west? In that case, it will probably get full sun in the afternoon, while northern exposures will be shadier – and this can affect the type of plants you should purchase. For example, moss and perennials do well in northern exposures, while fragrant shrubs, flowering vines and Black-Eyed Susans are good on the western side of a landscape.

What type of soil do you have?

There are three types: clay, loam and sandy. Often, specific plants do better with specific types of soil, so make sure the plants you’re buying are paired with the type of soil you have.

How much space will these need?

Most plants start small, but find out how large they’ll grow and how much space the roots need before planting. Make sure they have room to expand. Also, if you plan on getting native plants, be aware that they have a tendency to spread – rapidly – so understand that a few native plants can go a long way.

Do you have a long or a short growing season?

This will affect the types of plants you choose. If you have a short season, you should consider hydrangeas, red creeping thyme and dahlia. Sweet alyssum are also great for short growing seasons.

Do you plan on having cut flowers in your house? 

If so, then you’ll want to look for long-lasting cutting flowers, like carnations, chrysanthemums, orchids and Peruvian lilies. These tend to absorb a lot of water, so keep in mind that you’ll need to water these often – outside and indoors.