Have you ever moved to a new area with no clue what type of plants you have or how to care for them? Well, your plight isn’t unusual – people find themselves in this situation often.
Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to learn about your landscape, the plants in it, how to care for them and what types of new plants will do well.
Believe it or not, it doesn’t matter what region you live in – the steps are the same.
Lilac shrubs were in full bloom and peonies were just beginning to open…
I must admit to being slightly envious since my Arizona garden doesn’t get cold enough in winter to be able to grow these lovely plants. However, I was fortunate to be there when hers were in bloom.
Often, you will find the same plants at the nursery, where you can check the labels for the names along with instruction on how to care for them.
We found that the shrubs alongside the house are ‘dappled willow’.
Be sure to show pictures to the nursery professionals of any suspected problems of your plants. They can often tell you what it is and how to treat it, if needed.
Local nurseries often have free (or inexpensive) guides on a range of gardening subjects. Be sure to ask if they have any.
4. Contact the local cooperative extension office.
If you’ve never heard of cooperative extension services, you are missing out on a valuable resource. They are an “educational partnership that offers numerous programs implemented by county field faculty and supported by university-based specialists”.
Master Gardeners work for the cooperative extension office in your area, which is usually divided up by counties.
They have many resources for homeowners, especially in regards to their landscape, that is specifically tailored for that specific region. Often, much of the information can be found online and/or you can talk to a master gardener on the phone.
Here are some helpful questions to ask:
– What USDA planting zone do you live in?
– What type of soil is present in the area? Acidic or alkaline? That’s important to know since certain plants do better in one or the other.
– What is the average first and last frost date? In other words, how long is the growing season? For my garden in Arizona, the growing season is 10 months long while my daughter’s is only 6 months.
– When is the best time to prune roses, trees and shrubs?
– What are the planting dates for specific vegetables?
– Are there any insect pests that are particularly troublesome? How do you get rid of them?
For a listing of cooperative extension services, click here.
5. Take pictures of local landscapes and plants that you like.
When you are walking your dog or taking a stroll through the downtown area, grab your phone and take photos of plants that you like.
If it’s growing and looks healthy, than it will probably grow in your garden. You can take the photos to your local nursery to help you identify what they are.
6. Wait 6 months to a year before making dramatic changes to the garden.
A garden undergoes several transformations throughout the year as plants bloom, change colors and fade. It is helpful to observe the plants, to see what you want to keep and those that you went to remove.
In addition, this is also a period of time to see how functional the design of your garden is. If plants are struggling, it may be because they are planted in the wrong exposure, get too wet from storm runoff or don’t have enough room to grow.
Once you have lived with your new landscape for awhile, it’s time to make changes.
I invite you to come back to see the changes that we undertook in my daughter’s landscape. We took out some plants while adding some new ones. I’ll also provide some helpful planting tips.
See you next time!