The days are becoming longer and we are daydreaming about gardening more and more. Now’s a fun time to plan your gardens and landscape with the family. Having a voice helps make everyone feel a part of the project and responsible for its health. Bring the family together, sit around the kitchen table, and brainstorm everyone’s ideas of beautiful plants, fabulous flowers, delicious edibles, and other priorities. A rough map of your garden space is a great surface to gather around. Consider placing post-it notes with everyone’s ideas to narrow down.
ORNAMENTALS – Perhaps flowers are a must for your family. Picking your own bouquets throughout the season will provide years of enjoyment. Plant low-maintenance perennials like peonies, echinacea, and Black-eyed Susan that bloom across seasons to extend color.
Early-blooming trees like crabapples and serviceberry add color to the landscape and fruit for birds. Maples and oaks are lovely for their fall foliage and shade. Flowering shrubs like clethra, winterberry, and hydrangea can add privacy, blooms and wildlife value all in one.
Be sure to remember bulbs in fall! If you missed planting them last season, don’t worry, we’ll have some potted up this spring. Some can go right in the yard, others in shrub and perennial beds. Plant dozens and don’t forget allium! Their balloon-like spikes bloom in purple, blue and white globes in spring. For very little work and money, your spring will come early and beautiful when you plant bulbs.
EDIBLES – If growing food, think about if your family prefers to grow the staples you use a lot of, or if you want to learn how a variety of plants grow. Also remember you can have two gardens in one season. A second planting of carrots, beets and greens will last well into October and November. If some family members want kale and others want lettuce in a space that only allows one option, consider one in the spring and another in the fall. Here are a few of our favorite edibles to grow, especially with children:
Peas – An easy-to-plant, early season veggie that gets kids pumped for gardening. Witness a flower turn into a pea pod, plus sweet shelling peas are a discovery to open and tasty to eat. Be sure to wait for the soil to warm up a tad before planting, to at least 50-60 degrees.
Potatoes – They’re fun to plant and are like buried treasure to harvest. Worried about space? Potatoes can easily be grown in deep containers or raised beds.
Herbs – Not only are these valuable in the kitchen, but they open another sensory world. Introduce kids to fragrant rosemary, basil, chamomile, mint, and more.
Fruits – Berry bushes like honeyberries, blueberries, rapsberries and blackberries are enjoyable for years to come. There are varieties available for small spaces too, even patio planters.
MAINTENANCE – Ultimately the garden is the most fun when it’s low-maintenance and not a burden. Sustainable groundcovers reduce weeds and mulching. Creeping sedums, bearberry, low-growing junipers, even fruiting cranberry (yes like the kind at Thanksgiving) are all things that can be used to protect your soil, add to the landscape, and make time in the garden more enjoyable for all!