9 Steps to Starting a New Garden

How to plan a new garden from the ground up

It’s time to plan your best garden ever. Canadians are blessed with a long winter to consider and dream about how they can garden better—to plan, read, explore social media and so on. Here’s how to get started.

Start with what Mother Nature gave you. Whether you live in a condo with a balcony or on an acreage, the secret to finding the path to the fulfilment of your garden dreams is to watch nature: Take note of where the sun comes up (in the east), where it goes down on your property, and how it illuminates your property midday. How do trees affect the shade and sun patterns? What about buildings and other structures? 

  1. Pay attention to how the wind moves through your property or balcony. Western and northwestern exposure will limit your plant selection somewhat. Being informed about your natural environment now will help you make intelligent plant-buying decisions later.
  2. Find photos of gardens you like the look of, plants that have shapes you like and structures that would make sense in your space. Flipping through magazines, books websites, Pinterest boards and visiting garden shows are a great place to start.
  3. Plan a pathway through your space. The most important decision you will make regarding the design of your garden will be the path system. As you step out of your door, where do you want your paths to take you? Deep into the yard, or straight to the barbecue? 
  4. Draw out your plan. On a piece of paper, draw an outline of your yard and then create lines of the path or paths that will lead you to key destinations. Think of the elements you can dot along the way, such as unique plants or water features, and, above all, create garden paths that lead you back home.
  5. Before you plant anything, test your soil. Healthy soil is the basis for every garden. Nutrients, water, and oxygen are all building blocks of plant life that are provided by the soil through the roots.
  6. Decide on a colour palette and start a plant list. Make sure to include a mix of trees, evergreens, shrubs along with native plants and pollinators. And for colour, here’s our list of the best flowers with big blooms.
  7. Decide which plants to start from seeds indoors and which to purchase at your local garden centre. 
  8. Gather tools like a shovels, hoses and watering cans, here’s our top picks for your toolshed.
  9. Start planting! 

Mark & Ben Cullen
Mark & Ben Cullen

Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, author, broadcaster and tree advocate
and holds the Order of Canada. His son, Ben, is a fourth-generation
urban gardener and a graduate of the University of Guelph and Dalhousie
University in Halifax. Follow them at markcullen.com, @MarkCullen4
(Twitter) and @markcullengardening (Facebook) and look for their latest book, Escape to Reality.

Follow them at markcullen.com, @MarkCullen4, facebook.com/markcullengardening and biweekly on Global TV’s national morning show, The Morning Show.


By The Same Author:

Posted on Wednesday, January 19th, 2022
Harrowsmith Magazine | Spring 2023 | Now Available

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