Hey there, fellow garden enthusiasts! Are you excited to start a new garden or add to an existing one? It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying beautiful plants and digging away, but wait! Taking some time to get to know your garden space can pay off in the long run. Trust me, any seasoned gardener will tell you that the right plant in the right place makes all the difference, in time, money and success.
So, before you start planting, let's consider a few things...
Know your zone: Firstly, do you know your zone? Knowing your "hardiness zone" is crucial when it comes to choosing the best plants for your particular garden. The USDA hardiness zones simply describe the coldest place a plant can grow. So, the higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. If you're not sure what zone you're in, don't worry, you can find it easily by searching "USDA Planting Zone" plus your city name on the internet. If you live locally on Vancouver Island, you are most likely in a 7B / 8A planting zone.
Only choose plants that are appropriate for your overall climate and local conditions. To set your garden up for success, it's incredibly important to take your climate into account when choosing plants. Does your region experience drought or extended hot, dry periods? Choose drought-tolerant plants. Does your region get a lot of seasonal rain? Look for plants that need more moisture and can handle soggy soils.
Is your garden north or south facing? Knowing when the sun hits your soil can help you choose the right plants. How many hours of direct sunlight does your garden receive? Keeping a log of this information might seem like extra work, but it can help you avoid costly mistakes. Don't forget to consider the hardscape around your garden (e.g. walls, boulders, pavement, etc.). Pavement and south-facing walls can create more heat for plants, while boulders and walls can provide more protection.
Take a walk around your neighborhood and see what's growing well. Conifers and camellias can indicate more acidic soil, while lilacs and viburnums reveal sweeter soil. Looking at other gardens in your town or neighborhood can also help you find plants you love and also give you a sense of your garden design style.
Taking the time to get to know your garden space can save you time and money in the long run. By considering your hardiness zone, local climate, sun exposure, hardscape, and what's growing well in your neighborhood, you'll be well on your way to creating a beautiful and thriving garden.