Now that you know what kind of garden fits your needs and your lifestyle (we talked about that last week) it’s time to choose the perfection garden location in your yard. Once you have picked a vegetable garden or a perennial garden, there are many other factors you need to decide before you actually get to work with your gardening tools, especially if you live in the Lancaster, PA region. The next step is to choose the perfect garden location.
You need to think about several factors: How you will water it; how much shade or it needs; how dry or moist the soil needs to be; and making sure it’s located where you will get the most enjoyment out of it. These questions are very important in deciding whether your garden lives or dies, so don’t take them lightly. You need to take each one into special consideration.
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Watering Your Garden
Although Lancaster, PA isn’t near the equator, we’ve had our fair share of droughts. That means you need to be able to water your garden on a daily basis when there hasn’t been any rain.
If you have a sprinkler system already installed for your lawn, you could consider putting your garden in the middle of your yard. Then it will get watered at the same time, with no extra work on your part.
However, if you don’t have a sprinkler system or you don’t want a garden in the middle of your yard, you will have to water the garden yourself or attach a sprinkler to the end of a hose that’s long enough to reach it. The distance is the most important factor here, because you need to have a hose that’s long enough to reach, or be able to connect more than one hose. In other words, don’t locate the garden at the far end of your property if you can’t reach it with a hose.
If a garden is located close to a water faucet, then soaker hoses become another option. Soaker hoses are porous, so when you lay them between and around plants, the water is dripped directly into the soil. It’s the most efficient and effective way of watering a garden.
Choosing Sun or Shade
Getting the perfect amount of sun or shade for your garden can be a difficult endeavor. Once you choose the perfect garden location, you should watch that spot during the day. Then, record how many hours it spends in sunlight and how many it spends in shade. Compare your findings to the needs of the garden you’re planning.
If you’re planning a vegetable garden or a garden of sun-loving annuals and perennials, make sure the spot you’ve chosen gets full sun for most of the day. If you’re planting a garden of shade-loving annuals and perennials, make sure your chosen location is shaded for most of, if not all of, the day.
Of course, the amount of sun your garden spot will change as the seasons change, but watching it during the spring, summer and fall should give you a good idea of what to expect for the rest of the year. If necessary, you could always transplant your garden if the conditions aren’t healthy for your plants.
Checking the Soil
Now that you’ve determined whether or not the location you’ve chosen for your garden gets the right amount of sun or shade, you should turn your attention to the soil in that location. Some plants prefer soil that stays a bit moist. For instance, in the Lancaster area, beebalm and Jacob’s ladder prefer wet to moist dirt. Other plants prefer soil that’s drier and drains quickly. Butterfly weed and aromatic aster are two plants in Lancaster County that thrive in dry soil.
If the soil in your garden’s location doesn’t meet the requirements of your plants, you can improve it before you plant. See our blog post about amending your soil for the best results.
Preparing to Plant
After you choose the perfect garden location based on watering needs, sun or shade, and soil variables, you’re one step closer to actually planting your garden. Of course, there are other factors that you might consider before planting, but mostly you should be able to decide whether your garden location will work based on your observations.