What advice have I to share with those of you who want to age in your garden? Here are a few suggestions from my grab bag of learned weeds and prize blooms – all free!
- Plan Ahead
If you don’t have a plan for your yard and garden, then that’s what you’ll get. Instead, ask yourself what do you want and what impinges on that?
Right now, I want daylilies and they are deer dessert, so I have to ask how to discourage deer in my garden. I could give up on the daylilies and select something deer resistant (no, there is nothing that is deer-proof) and plant that. I may do so in the future, but for now, I spray my daylilies with deer repellant, and curse the white-tailed vermin!
I have found Predascent a good deer repellant, but have read that deer are remarkably flexible and any repellant should be changed from time to time to keep them away from your plants. So I have also used Deer Off and Deer Scram.
If you want potted plants (see advice below), put your hose very close to them, leave the hose out all the time, and water every day.
If you want to grow a vegetable garden, plan to devote a great deal of time to planting, weeding, staking, netting (if your birds like vegetables too), caging (if your deer like what you are raising), and watering (to keep the moisture level even). If you are less able to get down to ground level to do all this, have someone build raised beds that you can sit on to weed, stake, etc.
- Install Paths as Hardscaping
Plan on making your garden visitable for those with strollers or those in wheelchairs – try to stay away from installing steps (yes, they can be beautiful!) and try to pave wide paths with fairly hard materials (crushed granite, stone or brick, or even asphalt) so that wheels won’t get stuck in the muck or soft mulch.
What you will find is that you can better manage a wheelbarrow with such paths! So see if you can devise a path or change the slope of your grounds to rise or fall 1 foot for every 20 feet, so that should you or someone else in your garden need a rollator or a wheelchair some day, you won’t have to lift it up stairs to get where you want to go.
- Avoid Installing Plants That Will Become Too Large
Installing plants that will grow too big for their location is a big mistake. This is both a maintenance and safety issue. As plants grow so large as to impede access to a given area, they can also have sharp “edges” (thorns, needles, hard leaves, branches) that scratch the passer-by or gardener. If the plant is to be kept manageable, it will have to be pruned more often than one sized right for the location in the first place, and possibly severely pruned, made ugly or disease prone.
There is no plant that has no maintenance requirements, but its maintenance will be reduced if it is right-sized for its location. Never plant scratchy or thorny stuff close to the edge of path where people might brush by. I love pampas grass and roses too, but shield them from your visitors by a thick barrier to keep your visitors safe! Even juniper is sharp enough to warrant planning ahead on its ultimate size in the garden, and planting other softer plants around it as a barrier to kept your visitors scratch-free.
- Install the Right Plant in the Right Location
Installing the wrong plants for shade, sun, needing water, or not wanting water can make or break your landscape and your back if you have to haul a hose out to some delicate thing, or watch something rot in the shade when it should be in the sun. So clematis like their roots shaded and flowers in direct sun. What do you do? Plant something at their feet so their roots are shaded. Put up a trellis so they can climb into the sun.
Other posts on planning and the second post on Free Advice that you might enjoy:
What advice do you have on making the garden an easier place to enjoy?
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