Thursday, February 28, 2019

The 5 Decisions You Need to Make Before Buying the First Plant

Have you ever purchased a plant because you liked it in the garden center and then got home and walked around with the thing wondering where to plant it? I know. Me too.

The biggest mistake I made as a young gardener was just rushing off to the nursery with my wallet and absolutely no overall plan. I'd buy any plant I thought looked interesting or pretty with no thought to where it might go or if I had the right conditions for it. I must say the cottage style garden I had was more forgiving than other styles, but man, did I waste a lot of money. Now with a plan in hand, it's easier to make decisions and stick to my budget.

Let's save you tons of money and frustration and hours of labor. 

Here are the 5 things you need to decide before you buy your first plant. If you've made your vision board you'll find deciding these things much easier. If you missed the post on how to create your vision board read this. 

1. Layout of your garden.

Where will the garden go? How will it be shaped? It is sunny or wet? You'll need to do a bit of research to create the layout that you want. Thanks to Pinterest there are plenty of designs you can use or you can create your own. Once you know about the drainage and sun situation you can have your soil tested to see if it needs amending.

2 Pathways and materials.

Do you want a winding path that disappears behind a row of trees or a straightforward path to get wheelbarrows full of mulch down? Will the path be gravel, dirt, mulch, brick, or something else? This is worth spending a big part of your budget on since it is what you'll be looking at in winter when the garden is bare. It's also the most labor intensive part of the job and you want to get it right the first time. (voice of experience here.)

3. Your garden philosophy.

This is both what you want the garden for and how you wish to work in the garden. Is your garden for growing food or entertaining? Do you want to do the old fashioned double dig or go the no-till route? Do you want to create a habitat for wildlife? Are you concerned about pollinators? (I know you are!)

4. Kind of containers and garden furniture you like.

Nothing complicated here. For most people with a sense of style, you'll know what kind of accessories will best compliment your garden. If you aren't sure just keep referring to your vision board and look for the things most like the pictures you see there.

5. Plants you are going to plant and where will they go.

Do a little research. Sit down with a book of things that do well in your area. Ask older gardeners what they've had success with. Maybe you remember a plant from your mother or grandmother's garden. Make a list and do not go seed or plant shopping without it. I know. It's hard. But you'll thank me later.

We are entering March and on any sunny warm day, most people will head off to the nursery or big box store to buy their plants. But you are going to know better. First, in the mid-south, it's still too early to put things in the ground but also most of those folks don't have a plan. This is the time (while you are excited about your garden but can't safely plant anything yet) that is perfect for planning and research.

Let me know how it's going!

XOXO Y'all!


  1. Very good tips! I always loved combining flowers with my vegetables and doing companion planting. I decided which vegetables were often more expensive to buy in the store and could I grow them in our climate. Now I do containers.


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