Whether your garden is a blank canvas, waiting for colour, or an established landscape full of bushes and blooms—how do you measure its conditions?
Assessing a blank slate garden
If you’re starting your garden from scratch, Paul Zammit, director of horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Garden recommends:
- On a bright and sunny day draw a plan of your yard on graph paper recording where the sun hits your garden at 10 am, noon, 2 pm and 4 pm. Charting the areas of shade on graph paper will give you an indication of how much light your yard gets.
- Assess the wind exposure (and what direction it blows in from); measure how well the soil takes up moisture or drains when it rains; and add organic matter to the soil—whether it’s sand- or clay-based, the principles are the same. (Get the dirt on your soil.)
- Think about how you’re going to utilize the space, for example, will kids or pets be using the garden?
Assessing an established garden
If you’re moving to a house with an established garden, Belinda Gallagher, head of horticulture for the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, recommends:
- Snapping a picture of your garden, downloading it to your computer,and switching it to black and white. This helps you see the shapes of the plants and helps you identify overgrown areas.
- Avoid pulling things out right away. Let the garden grow for a year or two and observe what the previous owner has done.
- Taking a stroll through your neighbourhood to see what people are growing and get an idea of what will succeed in your yard.