The pleasures of gardening are as many as the extensive variety of plants and flowers that, with a little care and continuous maintenance, transform any piece of land into an enchanted garden. One of the first steps is to choose the right plants… see how!
What is your green style?
• Defining the purpose of your garden is usually the step before choosing and purchasing the plants themselves. The idea is to design a garden space that matches the house, with your lifestyle, with the availability you will have for gardening itself and, of course, with your personal tastes.
• Is the mental image of a garden covered in thousand and one-color flowers something you like? Do you prefer ornamental plants? Have you always dreamed of a small vegetable garden with vegetables or herbs?
• If flowers are your true passion, know how to distinguish between annual flowers – they will have to be planted every year, but they bloom almost all summer; and the perennial flowers – the flowering time is shorter, but they “burst” every year without needing a new planting.
• Variety is a strong point and even advised, but if you are a novice in the field of gardening, start with a small garden so you can experiment and be successful before expanding it!
Location is everything!
• Assess the space available and create the boundaries of your future garden, preferably outside places of great human traffic; very close to the space where your children play cowboys; or easy access to pets, neighbors or even stray.
• Invest some time in observing the hours of sun and shade that bathe this space – this information is crucial to know what type of plants and / or flowers you can plant there, with the majority needing six hours of sunlight every day ! If you find that there is more shade than sun (ie less than six hours of direct sunlight), do not despair, there are several species that prefer cooler places!
• There is no point in experimenting – plants that need sun will eventually get sick or die if they spend too much time in the shade and the same will happen if plants that require cool places are exposed to the sun.
• For places with a lot of sun, the options include: tomatoes, leafy vegetables, lavender, sage, melissa, geranium, gazania, adelfa, azaleas and cacti, just to mention a few.
• The shade brings with it some advantages: the flora needs less water, resists lower temperatures, will have less problems with the emergence of weeds and pests. With regard to plants suitable for shade, hosta, tulips, amaryllis, violets, ferns, bergenias, acanthus, lobelia, euphorbia, anemones, columbia and some species of hydrangeas, among others, are recommended.
• The quality of the soil is crucial, if that were not the real sustenance of any garden! In this sense, there are several soil analysis kits to ensure that yours is in perfect health to receive brand new plants!
One degree above, one degree below.
• Flowers and plants react differently, depending on the temperature to which they are exposed. If the heat makes some bloom, it can be disastrous for others. Regarding the cold, the reasoning is the same. Be aware of the specifics of the plants that you would like to include in your garden.
• In this sense, avoid tropical and exotic plants or any other that is not local or national … so as not to suffer a great disappointment.
Color and live.
• A colorful garden is a treat for the view but, for those who take the first steps in this unknown territory, it is advisable to use two or three colors at most. Be inspired by the environment that will surround your garden, without forgetting the different plants that you will combine, each one having different tones in terms of trunk, flower, leaves and fruits. Combine the colors of your garden as you would decorate your room, for example.
• In terms of visual effect, the warm colors (yellow, orange and red) give the garden a sumptuous and cozy look; instead of the cool colors (blue, lilac and purple) that make the garden look bigger than it really is, so a good tip for those with limited space.
• Choosing the colors, let yourself be carried away by the incredible sizes, shapes and textures that many plants present. In addition to the tones, the setting of a garden can be completed thanks to the diversity achieved with plants that show brilliant or worked foliage. They can be the perfect accompaniment for very showy flowers or even help delicate flowers stand out. Use your imagination (and who knows!) For unique combinations!
Quantity and quality.
• The smaller a garden, the less plants and flowers you will need, so as not to run the risk of planting a big mess! As a general rule, for a small space, choose two or three varieties, acquiring three copies of each, that is, there are already nine plants!
• For larger spaces, pay attention to the width of each plant (the current one or the one you will reach) before deciding how many to take.
• If you are still undecided, use this tip: if you want a garden with an immediate impact, that is, grown and quite filled in the first year, you will have to put the cuttings closer together or purchase larger plants. If you are not in a hurry, let the plants grow at will, filling the “voids” with annual flowers if you want.
Seeds or stake.
• Another decision you will need to make when choosing your plants is whether to plant them with seeds or cuttings. The seed process takes more time when it comes to the final result, but it has all the necessary instructions (the best time to sow, at what depth, at what spacing …) and is an excellent method if you are considering planting sunflowers or lettuce.
• In addition to being something you can already see and whose growth can be followed at a faster pace, the cuttings are easier to plant, just needing to be tucked into a pit made in the earth. The younger the better, as these plants tend to adapt very well to new territory.
Spring has arrived, let’s plant!
• It is common knowledge that spring is the season, par excellence, to plant anything, followed by a summer marked by a lot of watering, cleaning work to remove weeds (hopefully not many!) And to appreciate the growth of your garden.
• However, know that autumn is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs and some types of perennials. Also resistant to the cold are pansies and curly kale, so you can practice this type of gardening during autumn and winter. Tomatoes and most of the annual flowers hate the cold, so only when the temperature warms up! If you feel like getting your hands dirty in the middle of spring or autumn, you can plant perennial flowers.
Look for a specialist.
• garden store in your city or a local nursery have professionals specialized in “gardening initiation”, being an excellent resource to answer all your doubts and receive useful advice to start planting with the right foot!
The final choice.
• Do you already have the shopping cart and are you about to make the final decision on the plants that will bring your garden to life? Before pulling out the wallet, carefully read the label that usually accompanies each plant. There you will find useful information regarding your name, the amount of sun and water exposure you need, your ideal temperature and the full size you will reach.
• Did you know that there are some varieties of plants and flowers (for example, garlic and marigold) that are resistant to insects, disease and drought? Flora with health to give and sell and that does not require the use of sprays and other harmful chemicals – one more reason to be aware of the labels!
• For beginners, great gardeners advise, in the field of annual flowers, the cosmos, marigolds, geraniums, sunflowers and zinias. If you prefer perennial flowers, choose between sage, ericaceae, pansies and daylilies. If you are more inclined towards the vegetable garden, there is no mistake if you start with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
• Above all, choose plants that suit you, after all it is always more motivating to take care of something you are passionate about! And if there’s anything you love, it’s the flowers and the gardens!
Steps: How to integrate them into a garden design
The final result of a garden depends mainly on the harmony with which its elements are integrated. The steps of a stair or the separation between different levels cannot simply compose an isolated set, but can be part of the “landscape” of the garden. Here are some suggestions that can help to achieve this harmony:
Often, the steps are necessary elements to make the connection between two or more levels in the garden. However, in some cases, they can be included in the project for other purposes, among them, to function as a focus of attention, a special point in the group or even serve as a stopover in extensive gardens.
Whatever the reasons for the presence of steps in a project, it is necessary to pay attention to certain details:
* Always consider the type of material you are using throughout the garden and try to build the steps in the same style. Otherwise, instead of integrating it into the set, you will be highlighting it as a disharmonious element;
* The steps must be wide and low, so that they transmit smoothness. Very steep flights give a heavy and tiring air to the environment;
* The general project of the garden will give the orientation: if the project allows, build the steps that join extensive levels adding curves – it is much more graceful and sculptural;
* The harmony and beauty of a set are not the only important items. Security is also essential. Attention when choosing the material: very smooth and slippery steps or that facilitate the formation of puddles of water are very dangerous;
* Very large gardens or where there is a need to transport lawn trimmers, wheelbarrows, equipment, tools, etc., they may need the help of access ramps. In this case, as there is space available, plan to build small ramps next to the steps or winding downhill trails.
Steps in stone, wood, sleepers, bricks or lawns … there are many options; each suitable for a type or style of garden or outdoor area. The first step in choosing is to make a general assessment, taking into account two factors:
* if there is already a defined style, for example, rustic or as natural as possible, you can use railway sleepers, grass and raw bricks, slices of tree trunks, logs and cuttings, etc .;
* if the project is not yet defined and, consequently, neither the style, know that stones such as slate, goiás or mineira give a more classic finish to the steps.
Plants & steps
Steps grassy or interspersed with plants give a very nice and elegant look to the project, although maintenance is more laborious. If this is the option, it is necessary to choose the plant species with discretion, looking for those that are more durable and that do not grow too much.
Grassy steps can be built on the basis of bricks or wood. As for the steps interspersed with plants, it is necessary to provide a space for planting. Make holes in the sides or leave a free space in the joints.
The most suitable species are those used in lining or that produce small and delicate flowers such as maria-sem-shame (Impatiens). Aromatic herbs can give a country and fragrant touch – choose between those that don’t grow much like pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris).