renovating your existing garden

For many homeowners these days, a full-scale landscape makeover is not financially feasible. And whether you are selling your house and need to create “curb appeal”, or you simply want to improve the appearance of your existing landscaping, you should consider a garden renovation. You can implement the following tips yourself, and as gardening reduces stress and burns calories you’ll reap even more benefits than just a beautiful landscape………..

Prune – take a look at your existing shrubs. Do they obscure windows or other details of your house? Are they leaning into walkways or blocking doors? If so, then it’s time to prune. By restoring your shrubs to a more appropriate shape and size you will improve not only their appearance, but also their health and vigor. For flowering shrubs it’s important to know your plant’s habit so that you prune at the right time and don’t lose the next season’s blooms. Books, the internet and the folks at your local nursery can be helpful resources before you begin.

Divide – if you have perennials that have been in the ground for a few years, it is probably time to divide them. Signs that a plant needs division are:

* A “hole” in the center of the plant, where nothing is growing

* Flowers are smaller and/or fewer in number than the year before

* The plant has become too large for its home

Dig up the plant, discard any spent growth and separate it into smaller sections. You can then replant these sections elsewhere in your garden – free plants! Swap divisions with friends and neighbors to add variety to your existing beds.

Amend – creating an optimal growing environment for your plants will yield a dramatic improvement in their size, blooms and overall health. Every fall and spring, work into the ground a combination of compost, leaf mold and/or manure. Water in and cover with mulch – this “top dressing” will decompose, enter the soil and continually enrich it.

Remove – A leggy, overgrown shrub that is producing few or no blooms is sometimes past the point of repair. By removing plants that are no longer viable you will improve your garden’s overall appearance and make room for either new plantings or for existing plants to spread out and grow.

Plant fast growers – by selecting perennials and shrubs that spread quickly you’ll get quicker results with fewer plants. Perennials that fill in rapidly include: Gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides), Catmint (Nepeta), Obedient plant (Physostegia) and Purple coneflower (Echinacea). Fast-growing shrubs like Butterfly bush, Spirea and Forsythia are easy to grow and produce pretty flowers too. And for instant results plant some annuals – either in your beds or in planters and window boxes. They bloom right away and last all season.

These suggestions are low-cost, easy to execute and will keep your property looking great.

Enjoy your garden!

“tending your garden” is reprinted with the permission of River Journal Inc., 914.631.7021 © 2009 sheri silver – fiorigarden.com