The weather outside maybe pretty “frightful” right now and I know it’s hard to even begin to conceptualize the idea of Spring, however that snow will melt and the trees will turn green again and you will no doubt be left with a yard full of unkempt grass and random growths. The work you put into “yard work” is truly laborious and often seems in vain, however I assure you with the right attitude you will be pleasantly surprised at what turns up in the ground.
The first thing you need to do is clear all those decaying leaves off of your lawn. Pick a day when the weather is tolerable and you can hire some neighbors or bribe your kids to help you rake them all and bag them up. Removing the leaves gives you a fresh canvas to start your project. I find that the work you put into gardening will reward you ten times over so suck it up and put the hard labor into it now so you can enjoy the amazing benefits of a job well done.
The next thing you need to do is prepare the soil for planting. Hopefully the snow will have left the ground full of moisture and this is ideal when it comes to planting things. Sketch out an idea of where you would like to put various flowers, shrubs, seeds or bulbs and be certain to take into account where the sun is the most intense and where it is shady most of the time. Most yards have patches of sun and shade that are consistent throughout the day plan your landscape accordingly.
Put sun loving plants in the sunniest areas and shade loving plants in the shaded areas. Be sure to read everything while shopping for your plants and bulbs, and do not be shy, ask questions at your local hardware store or nursery. Asking questions is the only way to learn the secret “tricks” or spend a day reading up on certain lawn care techniques. Again, the work you put into it now will reflect when it comes time to reap the rewards.
Next consider color and placement. This is the fun part. You can experiment with big wooden tubs and make cool combinations in container gardens. This is a great way for beginners to learn how plants work together, what looks the best and how to care for them. Again, the rule of thumb applies to container gardens too…group like plants together that like the sun or shade plants together that like shade.
Annuals versus Perennial: There is often confusion amongst those who are not avid gardeners as to which is which. Annuals have to be planted every year and Perennial do not. I would suggest if you are on a tight budget and you do not have a lot of time nor are an avid gardener to go with Perennials only. This will save you time and money. I know there are so many beautiful annuals out there but it is just not worth spending the money on them only for them to die. Plan your garden for the long haul. It will be worth it.
Take your time and enjoy what you are doing, plants need love and attention and in return they will love you back and bring forth many beautiful blossoms in the years to come.