Small Garden Design - Knowledgebase Question

Philadelphia, PA
Avatar for j81nm
Question by j81nm
August 9, 1999
I have a small yard 17ft wide and 35ft long and I love to garden with trees,shrubs,flowers.herbs,vegtables. How can I fill it and look good -- there is a 2ft border along the edges I did last year and a small circle in the middle with a tree; it looks formal with edging aroung each bed but I put some plants in the grass area, a tree and a bush. I want to make it look like a garden on tv; I want to plant the yard very heavily -- what should I do?

Answer from NGA
August 9, 1999
It sounds like you are hoping to create what might best be called a "cottage garden", perhaps even a garden without any lawn at all. Remember that every garden takes on its own personality over time based on the gardener and on the growing conditions available. The best thing you can do overall is to improve your soil so it can support a healthy population of plants -- this will give you the most flexibility. Next, you should do some planning so that you have an underlying design to your plantings and select plants that can prosper in the planting conditions you have to offer.

I would suggest two books to help you get started. One is "Square Foot Gardening" by Mel Bartholomew ISBN 1-87857-340-2 and the other is "Gardening for Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey ISBN 1-56884-644-4. These will help you begin to learn to prepare your soil and how to grow all the various types of plants and give you some basic design ideas. Next, you may find additional books in the "Dummies" category helpful as you branch into specific areas of gardening. Finally, try to visit as many gardens as you can so that you can see real-life examples -- magazine shots are, after all, a frozen moment in time rather than a work in progress.

Enjoy your project!

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