Planning your new garden space doesn’t have to be daunting. You should first try to determine what kind of space you are dealing with: does it have full sun or dappled shade? Are there trees on the property, such as maples, whose roots grow close to the surface and will compete with your new plants for moisture and nutrients? Understanding the makeup of your yard in terms of amount of light and type of soil will get you started on the right path to make informed decisions about what you can plant. It will also save you money, frustration, and time.
Full Sun—At least 6 full hours of direct sunlight for these sun lovers. Try Yarrow, Lavender, Bee Balm, Day Lilies, or Stonecrop.
Partial Sun/Partial Shade—Often used interchangeably to mean 3-6 hours of direct sun a day. However, Partial Shade plants will require respite from the harsh afternoon sun. Try Bleeding Heart, Ligularia, Columbine, or Goat’s Beard.
Dappled Light—Found under deciduous trees, where shafts of light filter through the branches. Woodland plants prefer this kind of light. Try Astilbe or Lady’s Mantle.
Full Shade— Less than three hours of sun. This doesn’t mean “no sun”; filtered light does make its way through to these plants. There aren’t many plants that can survive in complete darkness. Try Lamium, Hosta, Lungwort, Bugleweed, or Hellebore.
Sandy—Dry and gritty to the touch, this soil has large spaces between its particles, and doesn’t hold water effectively. The risk of runoff is greater, but this soil does warm up quickly in the spring.
Silty—Rolled into a ball in your hand, silty soil will leave a slick feeling on your fingers. It has poor drainage and can become compacted if you walk on it. This soil remains colder for longer.
Clay—This soil has the smallest spaces between particles. It retains the most water, but little air can pass through its spaces. Because it is so slow to drain, it holds on to its nutrients. It can be difficult to turn and work with in general.
Loam—This is the ideal soil type. It is a balance of the three aforementioned soil types, plus rich humus. Loam is dark and crumbly in your hands, but holds onto nutrients and moisture down to the roots. To encourage loamy soil, add compost to your existing bed, or mycorrhizal inoculants (beneficial bacteria).
If you’re not sure about what type of soil you have, bring us a bag and we’ll help you determine your needs!