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Connecticut Garden Journal: You don’t need to be a pro to design a great garden

Old fashioned hand drawn garden plan.
KSuhorukov / Getty Images
One tip for designing a simple garden: start with a drawing. Sketch out the structures, natural features, walkways and other permanent fixtures around the garden area.

We're all itching to plant in the garden, but it's way too early. What we can do, however, is work on our garden design. You don't have to be a professional designer to do a simple design. Here's some tips.

On a piece of paper sketch out the structures, natural features, walkways and other permanent fixtures around the garden area. Indicate the amount of light the bed area gets. To build fertile beds, try no-dig gardening. Place layers of newspaper, or a piece of corrugated cardboard, over the area and then bring in a 6- to 8-inch thick mix of topsoil and compost to cover it.

Instead of starting your design with specific flowers, do a bubble diagram. On that piece of paper, draw bubbles where different types of garden would work such as a full sun perennial garden, a shade garden, an edible garden, pollinator garden, some shrubs.... This will help you imagine what the whole area will look like when planted.

Then choose plants that are hardy in your area, are adapted to your sun conditions and whose ultimate sizes will fit in the location and with each other. Try to select a range of plants that will flower at different times to give you summer long color. Mix in some annual plants for continuous color. Don't get too caught up with matching colors. Grow what you like. You can always move plants later.

For more garden design ideas, come to theConnecticut Flower and Garden Show at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford this weekend. I'll be giving a talk on No-Dig Gardening on Saturday, February 25.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.
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