by Charlene Burgi
Some of us, when we come up with a new idea for the garden, just want to jump in, get the job done and move on. This kind of thinking falls into Larry the Cable Guy’s line of “git-r-done.”
When it comes to garden design, though, having a plan or strategy is important. I believe it is better to sit with an idea for a while. (I can already hear the groans coming from the Larry zealots.) Seriously, how can you “git-r-done” without first observing sun locations at various times of the year? How can you position a greenhouse to gain maximum benefit from the angle of the sun, or shade from nearby trees, without studying the area? Speaking of trees, how can you plant a tree without considering the shade it will cast in its maturity and how that could impact the surrounding area? How can you expect a vegetable garden to thrive without working well-rotted manure and compost into the soil? For that matter, how can you improve the soil without a plan for continued amendments? How can we slow down rain and irrigation water without taking time to build bioswales, spread the water out via creative drainways, and sink the water into the ground by improving the quality of soil? These tasks require studying the lay of the land to see how water behaves naturally so we can best direct its flow.
When we move ahead without taking time to observe and plan, mistakes can occur, and it is often at the expense of our pocketbook. In my eagerness to get the front yard landscaped, I planted trailing manzanita on the lower elevation of the knoll. I considered the hydrozone spot-on by mixing various lavender, daylilies, penstemon, sage, columbine, yarrow and iris in this sunny location. They had excellent soil and were all irrigated with an automatic drip system. What I failed to consider, although warned about, was the “mud season.” When the snows melt, the ground turns to mud. The trailing manzanita did not appreciate their feet staying wet for such prolonged periods. They were being watered by melting snow and water draining naturally from the elevation above. The heavily mulched area didn’t help the soil to dry out faster. I should have planted them at a higher elevation. It was a lesson learned, much to the misfortune of the manzanita, and back to the drawing board for me! I failed to think ahead and didn’t grasp what “mud season” really meant.
Planning ahead can save more than just your plant material. Correcting an irrigation system can be costly if you mix hydrozones by planting shade-loving plants with sun lovers or high-water-using plants with low-water users, or if you mix up the types of irrigation on a valve.
Not thinking ahead can be costly, I thought, as I added the manzanita to the compost pile. Think first, plan ahead, then “git-r-done.”
Just make sure you don’t dwell on the project to exhaustion and never “git-r-done”!
Volunteer at the Marin Bay-Friendly Garden Tour May 19
If you enjoy hanging out in a garden and chatting with fellow gardening enthusiasts, have we got an opportunity for you! We’re looking for volunteers to work 3.5-hour shifts greeting guests at the Marin Bay-Friendly Garden Tour on May 19. Receive a t-shirt, guidebook and admission tickets to your choice of gardens on the Marin tour, or other tour dates in other Bay Area counties. Volunteer half the day, use the other half of the day to visit beautiful, inspiring gardens! Learn more.