I'm veering a little off the beaten path this week to share something I've been learning as we've adapted to being first-time home owners. Ryan and I have absolutely loved having a house since we bought it in April - it's been challenging to learn the ropes of caring for it but fun at the same time. One of the biggest tasks we had to tackle when we first moved in was the yard. Unfortunately, it was in pretty bad shape after years of neglect from the previous owners. I've never had the chance to care for a yard/garden/flower beds, so my knowledge base on where to start was little to none.
Thankfully with the help of parents and the very knowledgeable people at a locally-owned garden center, we've been able to get everything back in good shape and even plant some things of our own that we had always wanted to have in a yard. In this post, I'm sharing the top three things we've learned from being first-time yard owners in hopes that it will help some of you readers have an idea of where to start if you find yourself in a similar position as we were!
1. Identify What's In Your New Yard
This step is key to figuring out what you want to keep and what needs to go! We took pictures of what was in each flower bed, as well as trees in the yard, and took them to our local garden center to get help on identifying what was what. Then we would look up those plants and find out what they needed in terms of care/maintenance. While we ended up keeping most of what was in the yard, there were two things that had to come up - mainly because they just require more maintenance then what we were willing to put into their care and upkeep. Which brings me to the next step....
Planter Flowers (from top clockwise): Pink Inpatients, Variegated Spike, Dusty Miller
Front Bed: White Oakleaf "Alice" Hydrangea
2. Decide What to Keep and What to Replace/Dig Up
When you are thinking about what you want to have in a yard, we found it helpful to focus on the following factors:
- Lifestyle - think about your lifestyle, schedule, and how much time you are willing to put into yard/garden upkeep. We knew that our time is pretty limited and that'd ideally we'd like to spend one weekend per month on yard work, with the bi-weekly task of mowing and small maintenance jobs (weeding, picking up sticks, etc). We also have very little experience with plant and tree care, so we wanted to make sure that what we planted or kept would be easy to keep alive and healthy.
- Budget - we knew there were a few things we wanted to add to our yard that we'd always wanted - particularly myself. I've always wanted a white hydrangea bush, pink peony plants, fresh herbs, and some annual flowers for containers that I could cut for fresh bouquets. We made sure to set a flower budget before we went to the garden center to buy new ones to keep us on track.
- Garden style - start a Pinterest board for your yard/flower beds/garden and pin images of yards and plants that are appealing to you. There are many lists out there of plants that fit particular garden styles - from romantic, to cottage-style, to formal, southwestern and so forth. Think about which one best suites your taste and the style of your home. The experts at your local garden center will help you identify plants based on your style preferences and budget.
Front Ped (Back, Middle, Front Row): Pink Chinese Peony (it's a baby right now!), Pink Zinnias, Blue Liriope Grass
Front Bed (right, left): Pink Garden Phlox, Lavender Butterfly Bush
Back Porch Container - Multi-colored zinnias
3. Plan for Care and Maintenance With a Home Garden Journal
After we purchased and planned our new plants and flowers, I took the time to look each one of them up and take notes on what their growing characteristics were and how to care for them. I knew this would help me in the long run, because if I let myself get too busy I'd probably let winter go by and then by next spring would have no idea what I had planted the summer before! Also, it's good to note that plants needs different things based on the season you are in - some need pruning, fertilizing, dividing, and so forth, so it's good to have a spreadsheet or journal with all the info you need for the years to come so you don't have to keep looking up the info you need!
That's why I created this cute little garden journal that I keep on my computer. I also printed off a copy to keep with all my garden supplies. It's a great way to stay on track and get the most out of everything you've put so much work into for your beautiful yard! If you'd like a journal of your own, it's free for you to download! Just click this link to download the free pdf!
Box garden (left to right): Dill, Thai basil, Rosemary
Back Porch Planters (left, middle, right): Sweet Mint, Basil
Box Garden (Left to Right): Greek Oregano, Lavender, Thyme