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Old 08-29-2010, 08:45 AM
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 3,679,843 times
Reputation: 1419


So I recently bought a home that has a nice garden of flowers and greenery out front. However, it is not really my style and would love to redo everything. I am pretty new to gardening and I am thinking it is too late in the year to do much.

I am in Ohio and fall is fast approaching so I am thinking it is too late in the yr to plant anything, or am I wrong? I am thinking once fall hits the frost hits I will remove everything out, is that ok to do or should I wait till late winter early spring? When should I be able to start planting the plants I want into the garden? Most likely I want something that can look good during all of the spring and summer and come back next year. I will be hitting greenhouses once they start opening up.

Really could use some tips and advice.

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Old 08-29-2010, 11:13 AM
Location: AL for now
335 posts, read 1,303,151 times
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Default Don't bite off more than you can chew!

I moved a year ago and had grand plans and dreams for redoing my yard, too, but I really underestimated how physically difficult, frustrating, time-consuming, and expensive digging, amending soil, and controlling weeds can be, not to mention finding and purchasing desired plants. Granted, I have awful red clay soil and a yard that had been neglected. I really had to scale back my expectations of what could be accomplished in a year.

So, before you start removing TOO much, consider working on one smaller area or bed to see how it goes. If you haven't done so already, walk around your neighborhood to see what is thriving in other yards, what plant arrangements and/or combinations look pleasing to you, etc. That was helpful to me.

Around here, fall is considered the best time to plant trees and shrubs. I'm in zone 7b, and we don't get nearly as much cold weather as you, though. I'd consult local nurseries or garden books in the library for recommendations on what/when to plant in your zone. Also, see if the local cooperative extension service or botanical garden has brochures outlining lawn care, perennials that thrive, gardening calendars, etc. If your budget allows, you might also consider hiring a professional landscape designer to work up a site plan or give you ideas.

Good luck!
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:56 PM
Location: Columbus, Ohio
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Thanks for the info Bravesfan (btw I am a Reds fan so I hope to see Braves in playoffs). We have scaled our plans back some, which is why we are working on the front yard garden bed. Originally I planned to do things that are planted in the backyard but I will leave that for the year after. I like your ideas and I think I will check out some local nurseries this weekend to see what they think!
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Old 08-30-2010, 08:44 PM
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If the garden were mine, I'd probably wait at least until spring before doing a big redo. If the garden was created and maintained by a good gardener there may be more plants that you won't know are there until you have seen the garden for a full year. There may be a few plants that have yet to bloom this fall!

Most completed gardens will also have some bulbs and perennials that grow in spring and summer and might not be visible the rest of the year. Some examples might be crocus, tulips, daffodils and some kinds of lilies. If you dig into them now they will more than likely rot and die, which would be a shame unless you don't like them to begin with!

Even though there are plants thriving in the ground now you will need to add to the soil before planting fresh plants. Depending on soil conditions you might need to add humus or compost, or even more topsoil. This would be hard to do one plant at a time but if you plan on removing and getting rid of a large number of plants next month it would be a good time to make some changes.

Take an inventory of plants you want to discard (which kills me as a gardener, but you do have to make it your own!). If you know other gardeners find out if they know of an upcoming plant swap where you might be able to trade plants you don't want for some you do want. Take an inventory of those plants you want to keep (include any you may only want to move). Very often plants need dividing which you may want to do too, even if you don't plan on moving the plant from its current place, so it will continue to thrive and produce flowers. Extras can be planted elsewhere or taken to that swap.

Create your basic planting plan from what you plan to keep and what you hope to plant and then look up best planting times for the plants you want to buy. Many perennials can be planted in the early part of fall because that gives them a chance to put down a root network before the soil freezes and their leaves wither. Not all plants are available in the fall so you will need to leave space for spring planting for the rest.

While some gardeners manage to pull off the unplanned cottage garden look really well most of benefit from some careful planning. You want to make sure you plan for height (tall plants to the back, mixed heights in the middle low and creeping plants towards the front) for flowering season (if it all blooms in the spring you won't be happy come August with what you have) as well as for color combinations. You may also want to consider using annuals next spring and include them in your plans now.

If you plan on reshaping the garden appreciably, postpone new plants until spring and dig out everything for the next few months and get the soil in good shape and weed free. Replant any of the kept plants as soon as possible and then do the lions share of the planting come spring.

Good luck and post some before and after pictures for us!
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:43 PM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,384 posts, read 40,818,140 times
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J& Em has good advice. But I would not do anything this year. Especially since you are an inexperienced gardener.

Just sit back and watch what happens for at least 1 year. mark where bulbs are, take pictures to identify shrubs and perennials. Get some basic horticulture training -be better if you could take a Master Gardening Class- so you at least have some knowledge. Make gardener friends, etc. You may have some wonderful treasure you don't even know about.

As far as timing, FALL is always the best time to plant. Spring is Not the best time cause you want things established before the heat and stress of summer. But if you start planting things now you will disturb some very wanted plants which you won't even see till spring.

As new home owners, you are eager to get to work but if there is a great deal of plant material already there take the time to learn what you have before you start ripping things out. This could cost you a bundle of money.

Find somebody knowledgeable to walk the property with you and have labels ready to make up for id plants and then spend the winter months learning about what you have.

Remember the most important element is good soil prep. Nothing beats it and it is near impossible once you start planting.

We once lived in a house for 15 years and my gardens were beautiful. But the next owner knew nothing about growing and was hell bent on growing grass in too shady a place in the front. He ended up cutting down mature dogwoods just to try to grow stupid grass. This was a lovely natural area which this person thought looked messy. After my first drive by I burst into tears and just could not go back. And old neighbors told me grass never did grow there and they ended up making it a parking place. I was just sick.
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Old 08-31-2010, 09:59 AM
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 3,679,843 times
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Wow thanks to both of you! Those explanations were very in depth! This weekend I plan to inventory what I have. Most likely I will transplant a lot of the plants to my mothers/grandmothers as they really liked what I had in there. For me there just was not enough color.
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Old 08-31-2010, 07:00 PM
Location: Two Rivers, Wisconsin
11,160 posts, read 10,898,212 times
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Everyone has given you great advice, don't rush, think about it and plan! I moved into my house 3 yrs. ago the yard has been an experience. I have a big perennial bed on the west side of my double garage and I was clueless at first as to what I had. It takes time and work.

Last fall I moved many perennials that were totally crowded around my house, to a new area created when we took out 6 dead or nearly dead cedar trees along my back fence. In hindsight, I would never tackle what I did all at once and in late fall. It was overwhelming, a great deal of hard work. I was lucky this spring when everything I moved came up.

I also moved over 100 hen and chicks that were in black dirt by a slopping sidewalk. I moved them by my driveway where the grasss wasn't growing. They love it there and look great. I alternated rock, plant, rock, plant, another time consuming project as I had to remove many mushy leaves. It took me days to prepare them, I also threw out a 5 gallon pail of totally mushy smelly ones.

The point of this long story is, take your time, and plan, inventory is a great idea. I did that when I wanted to move the stuff on the 2 sides of my house, I was amazed to find I had 60 plants to move.
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Old 09-02-2010, 07:48 AM
357 posts, read 837,660 times
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No kudzu: best advice, specially for people who new to four season area garden.
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Old 09-02-2010, 09:00 AM
7,099 posts, read 23,657,681 times
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Since you are new to gardening at this house, WAIT. You need to know how the drainage is, what plants like a lot of water, which ones hate water and want a dryer bed. You can't mix them two different kinds and have both of them do well. Which ones need a lot of sun, which ones can take some shade and which ones MUST have shade.

Good gardening books are very helpful......if they are written for your particular area. I have one highly reccomended book that gives very helpful advice about protecting plants from snow (we never have any) how to plant in red clay (I have a sandy, dry soil) dry weather plants (our problem is rain and humidity ) In other words, the book may be fine for other areas, but no one warned that it was totally unsuitable for my area. Your library is probably the best place to start looking for books that might suit you.
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Old 09-02-2010, 10:14 AM
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 3,679,843 times
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Thanks for even more advice! I like the idea of getting a book about the area, but hard to convince the wife cause I always buy books about things I am looking into haha. This could help me however.
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