When the temperatures drop here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, gardeners turn their attention to gardening and seed catalogs. It’s easy to get caught up in the beautiful photos and landscape designs, but what you are attracted to in the catalog may not be the right garden for you. There are several things you need to keep in mind when you choose a garden for your property.
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The first thing you need to consider is what type of garden you will have. There are many different choices and it can seem overwhelming. We suggest focusing on one area of your yard at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Another way to limit your choices is to consider our plant hardiness zone. Lancaster is in Zone 6, so plants that aren’t fit for temperatures that can hit zero degrees should be eliminated from your choices. You can also narrow down your choices by sticking with native plants that thrive in our area.
Plus, by narrowing down what kind of garden you want, you’ll make the gardening experience easier on yourself and the plants. If all your plants are similar, you’ll be able to care for them much more easily. Let’s take a look at three kinds of gardens.
A flower garden or flower bed is the most popular kind of garden you’ll see in Lancaster. If you’re looking for something to add color and interest your yard, a flower garden is the perfect choice. Flower gardens are usually full of perennial flowers, which come back year after year. They require a little maintenance, but they’re not as much work as annuals, which you have to plant every year.
Perennials also include grasses, hostas and sedums, which thrive in our climate. Mixing grasses and other non-flowering plants will create a beautiful contrast in your yard. Again, choosing a native perennial will keep your maintenance and watering to a minimum. Visit the PennState Extension for a list of native perennials.
Flower beds can be located along a walk, off a patio, in your front yard or anywhere else you’d like to have something lovely to look at. When you choose a garden that’s full of flowers, you can really increase your house’s curb appeal.
You also might be thinking of planting a vegetable garden. Vegetable gardens require a little more work than flower gardens, but the rewards are very satisfying. It’s best to start small; you should build your garden with the future in mind, leaving room for additional plants at a later date, when you’re more adept at taking care of it. You also want to choose vegetables that grow during different seasons. That way, you’ll have produce during every season of the year.
Vegetables that grow well in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which is Zone 6, are arugula, asparagus, beats, beans, peppers, squashes, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and much more. Check with your local gardening store or plant nursery for what will grow best in your yard. (You should also prepare your soil to grow the healthiest produce.) You can also purchase an a Farmer’s Almanac, which has information for our hardiness zone.
One of the more difficult types of gardens to manage is a fruit garden. A fruit garden requires a lot of care and maintenance. More pests will be attracted to your fruit than other plants due to the sweetness. On top of having health soil that has the right pH balance, you usually have to treat your fruit trees with some kind of insecticide.
Here in Lancaster, your fruit garden will not produce year-round. However, apples, cherries, peaches, pears and plums can all grow well in our Zone 6 climate. An alternative to having a fruit garden in your yard, where it’s exposed to the elements, is to grow a fruit tree indoors in a pot. Fig trees are a popular choice for pots.
Like anything else, you’ll have some trial and error when you choose a garden for your yard. You’ll also need to keep an eye on sunny areas and shady patches so that your plants are getting the right amount of sun each day.
We hope this information has been helpful for choosing a garden in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area. Just remember to start small until you feel like an expert. Then you can expand your gardens and feel comfortable taking care of your yard.