Spring is here whether you’re ready for it or not. The work you do (or don’t do) now is going to set the tone for your garden the rest of the year. Every garden is a little different, but there are some universal gardening truths that everyone who hefts a spade should pay attention to.
Whatever you want to do in your garden, it has been done before, so learn from others. There are gardens all around Charlotte to help you decide what to plant in the area you want to fill. Check out the Botanical Gardens at UNC Charlotte as well as Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden and Winghaven. By seeing what works and doesn’t work in these gardens as well as others you can save yourself weeks, months, and even years of frustration.
2. Educate your HOA
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Yes, HOAs serve a purpose – but their requirements for landscape management can border on the ludicrous. I have seen HOAs tell people that their trees should be pruned at times when diseases are rampant and likely to infect pruning cuts, I have known people who received notification that ornamental grasses needed to be cut to lawn grass heights, and I have heard tell of vegetable gardens being outlawed in front yards.
Plants are a form of self-expression and HOAs need to learn to appreciate that. The only way that this is going to happen is if they get yelled at a little now and again.
3. Think about removing grass
Most of the grasses we use in our lawns here in Charlotte aren’t native and were never intended to grow in this climate. Because of this they need a lot of fertilizer, weed killer, and water to look good. Planting more shrubs and groundcovers can actually reduce the amount of these products that you will use in your landscape.
4. Get rid of the plants that didn’t do well this winter
Everyone has a few plants that just eked their way through the winter, like that sago palm in your backyard that you just love. This past winter was relatively mild here in Charlotte, so if your pet plant just barely made it through then it’s not going to make it through a tough one. Get rid of it now and plant something with a better chance. You’ll be happier in the long term.
5. Water is a dangerous friend
When you plant a new tree or shrub, it’s very tempting to water every day. Don’t. Plant roots require a balance of air and water, and if you water constantly you won’t get enough air working its way through the soil and your plant’s roots will rot. Typically watering once or twice a week is all that is required for a newly planted tree or shrub.
6. Plant for the future
You know that little 5 pound puppy that grew up to be a 90 pound dog? Plants are the same way. Consider the size that your plants will become in five or six years to save yourself hours of work and heartbreak when you need to remove an overgrown plant.
7. Take care of the weeds now
It’s tempting to let weeds grow for now and then kill them later when it’s more convenient. Unfortunately by the time you actually get around to weeding, the weed has probably already produced seeds which will make your efforts that much more difficult. Don’t wait, dig up weeds when you first see them to make your job easier, and, after these weeds are removed, place mulch down to stop new weeds from sprouting.