A Garden G! Will Grow
What happens when G! tackles a gardening project? We’re not sure, but we’re about to find out!
Text by Meredith Morrison
When Kara Hughes casually mentioned at the office she wanted to plant a garden this spring, I’m sure she had no idea then that we’d write a story about it let alone make it a three part series in G! Yet, here we are, ready to embark on a summer long gardening project that will see the G! Team elbow-deep in soil to give Kara the garden of her dreams.
I’m not sure who’s more nervous – those of us whose gardening experience is ordering a garden salad, or Kara for agreeing to let us dig up her front lawn with, what she hopes, are our soon-to-be green thumbs.
Much to Kara’s (and our) relief, we’ve called in the experts at Jewell’s Country Market and Gardening Centre in York to weigh in with their professional opinion on how we should carry out our DIY project. From start to finish, they’ll be our guides throughout the entire process and we’ll be passing along their helpful tips to you as you embark on your own DIY gardening adventures.
First, we need a plan…
As you can tell from the picture, Kara’s front lawn is basically a blank canvas, with the exception of two boxwoods her sister planted for her when she moved into her home two years ago. She wants the garden to be close to the front of the house with just the right amount of greenery. Nothing too ornate – Kara’s style is clean and simple, plus she’s looking for plants that are low to no maintenance. She has two window boxes she wants to fill with colourful flowers that spill over the side, and if the budget allows for it, she hopes to find a decorative planter for the front porch and maybe even patio stones. She’s got roughly $1000 set aside to make this happen, so we’ll soon find out how far her budget will take her.
When planning any gardening project, the first thing a gardener should know is the direction the sunlight hits the site you’re planning on digging up. This makes sense, as you wouldn’t want to go on a wild spending spree buying beautiful plants that won’t survive their first week in their new home. Gardening guru Barb Jewell (who we later discovered is the sister-in-law of Jewell’s head honcho, Edwin Jewell) suggests that much like going to the hairdresser, it helps to bring in a picture of what it is you’re looking for. Whether it’s a photo you snapped on your iPhone or cut out from a magazine, a visual allows them to make suggestions as to what will work and what won’t for your garden.
When looking at photographs of Kara’s house from various angles and snaps she took of a garden on her street that she likes, gardening experts Suzi DeBlois and Edwin Jewell both agree that a rounded shape would be ideal for the garden bed. Due to the linear lines of the house, DeBlois says, something round will soften the lines and achieve symmetry with the curve of the walkway. She suggests that Kara use the garden hose as a guideline to establish how big and what size she would like her garden to be. This way, she can play with angles and spacing before breaking ground.
Kara’s existing garden bed exposes a gap between the garden bed and her front porch. Jewell recommends that she raise the bed with compost and mulch so it will show better. And not just any compost will do – Kara’s going to need the good stuff if she wants her plants to grow. “Your plants will never do well in poor soil,” says Jewell. DeBlois agrees: “It’s like having great furniture in a home that needs lots of renovations. Compost will help the garden flourish. It needs more than just top soil.”
As to how much compost Kara should buy, Jewell says that the shape and size of the garden will dictate how much she needs. He recommends calling local landscaping companies to get a quote once the dimensions have been finalized. Based on Kara’s initial plans, he estimates that she’ll probably need roughly $100 – $200 worth of compost – that’s a huge chunk of Kara’s budget, which means goodbye patio stones, hello manure and peat moss!
When it comes to what types of plants would work with Kara’s request for a low to no maintenance garden, they suggest evergreen shrubs and possibly a few annuals. Perennials only have a short window in which they bloom, so annuals are definitely the way to go, as they’ll provide constant colour through the summer and fall. For her window boxes, DeBlois and Jewell tell Kara that she can take the containers into Jewell’s Gardening Centre where they will help her pick the colours and flowers she wants and they’ll plant them for her. They take care of them for up to a week and all she has to do is pick them and reattach the boxes to the house. It’s a service Jewell’s offers to all of their customers and, needless to say, and very good one.
So, now that Kara has a plan in place and we’ve heard from the experts, up next is Dig Day! It’s going to be messy, but you can bet it’s going to be fun!
Stay tuned for updates on G!’s DIY gardening project by subscribing to the G! Blog! Got any tips, tricks, or advice for us? Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post…we need all the help we can get!