Spring Patio Projects: Start Planning Your Plants Now
You may currently be staring out the window, seeing snow on the ground and reading an extra-low temperature on your thermometer. It’s the middle of winter, but it’s not too early to start planning your spring patio projects — even in the midst of the big chill. To make that task a little bit easier, we’ve put together a guide to help you plant and cultivate your patio garden.
When to Plant
Waking up to frost on the ground may lead you to believe that it’s way too early to start planning, but that’s not true. The frost is actually a great indicator of when to start your spring planning.
Many green thumbs wait for the last frost as the sign that it’s time to garden. Once the ice melts and dries, the ground should be ready for you to till and sow. Before that, though, you should start cultivating seeds inside. You can start your spring flowers as early as January, while any fruits and vegetables you plan to grow are best planted a bit later in the year.
What to Plant
There’s no right answer to this question — every patio garden will be different. For some gardeners, pots and planters full of flowers are all that matter. They’ll add some color to an otherwise wood or cement surface, making it more like a decorated, outdoor room.
If you want to have a fruit and vegetable garden, you’ll have to do even more research and planning so you know when to grow certain plants. For example, you can plant tomatoes and peppers in February if you live in a colder climate so they have time to root and grow by the time it’s warm outside.
Types of Plants You Can Choose
As you begin shopping for this year’s set of seeds and plants, you may see some labeling on seed packets and containers that you don’t yet understand. You’ll become more and more familiar with them as you hone your green thumb, of course. But for now, you’ll want to consider some of the major types of plants you can choose from. Consider these categories before you buy:
- Annual: Plants marked as “annual” will live their entire life cycle within one year. That means the seed will root, grow and die once and not regrow the next year. A laundry-list of flowers are annuals, and many gardeners use them for color since they’re less time-consuming to cultivate — they root and grow within the season.
- Perennial: On the other hand, perennials re-emerge each growing season. The top part of the plant — the stem and flower — will die, but the root system will remain in the ground, well-protected for winter. Once growing conditions are right again, your perennial will grow from the soil once again. Strawberries, sage, broccoli and the bright-yellow gloriosa daisy are all perennials.
- Biennial: Biennials take two years to complete their circle of life. In their first year of growth, biennials will emerge as only a small circle of leaves on the surface of the soil. The next year, the full flowering plant will grow before the entire plant dies at the end of its life cycle. Cabbage, fennel and forget-me-nots are all biennials.
Benefits of Your Chosen Foliage
What you plant can have benefits beyond natural beauty or tasty produce. Some plants can help you repel pests from your home and garden. Plenty of examples of these types of foliage exist. Here are three of the most surprising perks that come with particular plants:
- Basil: An herb garden wouldn’t be complete without fresh basil, so you may already have it growing in an indoor or outdoor plant bed. What you may not know is that basil is a natural repellent for houseflies and mosquitoes. Having a patch near your patio could allow you to sit comfortably outside without being bitten by insects.
- Marigolds: Marigolds are another natural mosquito repellent, but they’re also known to keep rabbits away. These small mammals can enter your garden, eat your plants and wreak havoc on the look and functionality of your garden. Simply planting marigolds can keep them at bay.
- Petunias: The beautiful, easy-to-grow petunia comes in a variety of colors, making it a gorgeous addition to any patio garden. Even better news: The petunia is known as “nature’s pesticide” — they repel everything from leafhoppers and squash bugs to asparagus beetles.
Where to Find the Best Buys
You can find plant-buying deals just about anywhere — if you know how to do it. For example, if you become friendly with the local nursery staff, you can ask them for tips to find the best bargain at the greenhouse. If you shop at the local flea market, you can often haggle down the price of your purchase. And, if you buy plants and seeds online, you can shop around to find the best price. Anywhere can have a great buy if you shop around, ask questions, and have patience until you find the best price.
Get Started Now
With this information in mind, it should be a whole lot easier for you to kick-start your spring garden in the middle of winter. Start planning and start planting now — before you know it, you’ll have the lush, green garden you envision.