Winter is the Best Time for Garden Planning

It looks like we are in a for a frigid weekend, which makes it a great time to look out the window and dream about next year’s garden. Whether you are laying out your vegetable beds or planning a major renovation with patios, paths and new trees, shrubs and perennials, a few basic steps make garden planning easy and fun.

I always start my garden planning with a few questions. How do I want to use the space? How would I want the space to feel? What practical considerations do I have to assess—water flow, traffic patterns, light, wind and neighbors? With vegetable garden planning, issues such as what do we eat, do crops need to be rotated from last year, what kind of preservation do I plan to do also need to be considered.

Taking notes on paper and even making some preliminary drawings is a fun winter activity. If you are on Pinterest or Instagram, there are many images and ideas for garden planning. Combining Pinterest and paper is a great way to solidify your ideas and it gives you something you can share with a professional designer or installer, if you plan to have one on your project.

If you want to go more in-depth on garden planning, we’re co-hosting a course on Landscape Design Basics, taught by Julie Weisenhorn and Jim Calkins of the University of Minnesota Extension. Students will have an opportunity to learn the theory and basic principles of sustainable landscape design and how to avoid the mistakes that are commonly made by novices and professionals alike. The curriculum was developed to allow participants to use their own property as a class project by designing an entry garden, a deck/patio garden, or other landscape space. What fun!

If you don’t have the time for a full course, there are many great books and websites on garden design. Some of our favorites are Groundbreaking Food Gardens for vegetable gardeners, which includes lots of plans and ideas; Five Plant Gardens, for those wanting great design with a minimal number of plants; and for those who really want to dig into design, the Layered Garden.

What are your favorite garden design resources?

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