So you’re ready to transform your yard into a water-smart, native plant paradise, but don’t know where to start? Here are some tips and steps to take:
- Measure the yard area you want to transform – this will help you decide how many plants/what size plants to get.
- Check your USDA zone (I’m in zone 5) and consider doing a soil test. Local garden stores or nurseries sell soil test kits and some even come out and do the test for you.
- Prep and amend your soil. Clear away any undesired plant material and add compost or other amendments based on your soil test results.
- Select or create a plant design (see pics and links below for ideas). Too overwhelming or expensive? You can also start small and scarce in the spring, and add a few more plants every month or so. If you consistently add plants that are in bloom throughout the growing season, you’re guaranteed to have a colorful yard all year!
- Buy or order your plants – planting trees, shrubs and perennials in the spring after the last hard freeze date is a safe bet, but others can be added throughout the year. Bulbs should be planted in the fall.
- Plant! Get some dirt under your nails and then sit back and enjoy your plants all summer. Perennials may take a season or two to fill out, but are worth the wait!
The Center for Resource Conservation’s Garden in a Box program is a wonderful tool for garden designs; you can order a set of hand-picked plants that come with suggested layouts and planting tips. Choose a themed native or veggie garden like “Xeric Greatest Hits,” “Butterfly Dream” or “Spaghetti Dinner” then select a pick-up site and get planting!
Plant Select’s website offers free downloadable garden designs from award winning horticulturalists, and they recommend local retailers for plants as well as landscape professionals. Implement a design as is, adapt them to fit your space, or use them as a template to create a custom garden bed.