Plant a Garden This Spring

Thinking of trying out your green thumb this year? Before you get started, here are three important tips for choosing what, where and how to plant.

Tip 1: Know your zone.
Whether you’re planting a flower garden or you want to grow your own vegetables, it’s important to choose the correct varieties for your geographic zone. Refer to the USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine what zone you live in, and then look for plants that will thrive in your area. You’ll greatly improve your chances for success.

Tip 2: Choose the right location.
The types of plants or vegetables you want to grow will dictate the ideal location for your garden. Some plants require “full-sun,” meaning they need at least six hours of exposure to direct sunlight every day. Others require “part-sun” or “semi-shade,” and some plants even do best in “full-shade.” Refer to the seed packets or plant information to determine sunlight requirements, and then choose your garden’s location accordingly. Areas facing south and southeast will typically get the most sun during the day, while areas facing north and northwest will have less exposure.

Tip 3: Prepare your soil.
If the area where you want to plant is already home to grass or ground cover, you’ll need to dig out the sod and roots and remove them. Then dig or till the exposed soil to loosen the top 8-12 inches, and mix in compost, manure or other material to fortify the soil. It’s also a good idea to test your soil’s pH and chemical composition using a soil test kit, and amend your soil according to the type of plants you wish to grow. Some plants prefer more acidic soil, while others do better in less acidic soil.