What Do You Need To Do Before You Start Planting A Garden?

What do you need to do before you start planting a garden? Follow these essential "pre-gardening" steps for preparing your garden before you begin planting and you'll go from novice to semi-pro in no time!

The first thing to do, I would say, is to plan. Decide what it is that you want with your yard. Do you want a real simple cottage kind of garden? Do you want a real formal garden? What parts of your yard do you want to landscape? It's kind of difficult for people who have never done that. One of the first things I would do is either drive around your neighborhood and take some pictures of yards that you like or look in some magazines and get kind of an idea. Because ultimately the best help you're going to get, unless you're going to go out and hire a professional to do everything for you, is from your local independent garden center and working with the people that work there to help you create what you want to create. It's very difficult to help people if they don't really know what they want. So if you do a little bit of homework first to get an idea of what style you like - you don't have to know what (the plants are) called or what the plants are, anything like that, just a visual idea of the finished result you want - that would definitely be step number one.

Once you have a plan or an idea of what you want to do, step number one is always going to be bed prep, or preparing your soil for planting. In Central Texas, typically in the Austin area, soil quality is not very high. So bed prep includes adding organic material and drainage material to your soil so that it makes it a better quality soil. In the "black lands" particularly, adding drainage material (is important), but also adding organic material helps loosen up that black clay so that you get a more medium kind of soil. Every part of the country probably has its own issue with soil. And again, that's where going to your independent garden center is crucial. Anybody that's had any experience in a garden center should be able to very quickly tell you what typically needs to be done to your soil in your area to make it better soil. Here in Austin, we have a unique situation where the east side of town is the "black lands" - very heavy clay - and the west side of town is pure rock. There are different solutions for those different parts of town, but bed prep is definitely the thing you want to do before you even start planting. People get this fever and they're ready to go, and they come in and buy plants, but they don't buy the stuff to prepare the soil. They just end up digging holes in the poor soil they have and sticking plants in it and the plants don't perform well.

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