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Spring Gardens for Beginners in Ontario

There’s no better time to start your garden preparations – even if it’s just to get your mind off this past winter’s cold.

Whether you want to fill your spring garden with flowers, or are dreaming of fresh vegetables galore, here are a few things you should do to get your blooms or veggies primed, planted and growing.

The Basics: What You Need to Know to Plan a Garden

Whether you’re planning on building a garden in your front yard, back yard, or even in a container on your balcony, there are a few things to consider before you start designing:

Your idea: Will this be a vegetable, flower, or herb garden? If you choose flowers, do you want annuals, which you must replant each year but which give colour most of the summer? Or do you prefer perennials, which have a shorter bloom time but come back year after year? You can mix any of the above.

The location of the sun: Ideally, your garden will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. Before you finalize the location, take a couple of days to notice how the sun appears in your space during the day and make sure there’s enough sunlight to help it grow.

Where your water will come from: Set up your garden close to a source of water  for convenience.

How much space you will need: Growing a garden in containers is a good option for those who live in apartments, and plants that can climb vertically on walls can be ideal for using space economically. If you have access to a yard, you may want to consider a “more than one year” plan for how your garden will develop over time.

The quality of your soil: Your gardening efforts will depend largely on your soil’s quality. Scoop up a handful of soil and squeeze it to get a sense of what kind of soil you have. If you have sandy soil, it will be crumbly in your hand. Sandy soils don’t retain much moisture. If you have clay soil, it will form a lump or lumps when you squeeze it. Clay soils get sticky and turn very hard when dry.

Loam, the ideal type of garden soil, will form into a ball when you squeeze it, but it will break apart easily. To improve any type of soil, add compost. This provide a nutrient boost and improve the texture of your soil.

Getting Started: Plan, Pick and Choose

Plant and Design:

After that careful consideration, it’s time for the fun part – planning and designing. There are as many garden designs out there as there are gardeners – roll up your sleeves and use your imagination.

For Vegetables:

  • Figure out where you want to plant your veggies, taking into consideration the ground space as well as the vertical space needed for the largest yield. Jot down and / or sketch out your design plan
  • Don’t forget to leave spaces between your veggie rows, so that you can reach all of your vegetables to work on them comfortably throughout the year

For Flowers:

  • When it comes to flowerbeds, wider is often better. Make sure your flower bed is wide enough (about five to six feet) to accommodate any flowering shrubs you may want to include, like rhododendron or Rose of Sharon
  • Plant flowers in groups of three, five, seven or more to achieve that lush mass of blooms down the road. Stick to harmonious colour combinations to create unity in your design

Choose Your Plants or Vegetables

For Vegetables:

  • If you want to stick to the basics, opt for lettuce, tomatoes, peas, carrots, beans and garlic. These are all easy to grow and maintain, and are perfect for a beginner
  • Kale, arugula, parsnips, spinach, beets, radishes, parsley and rhubarb are some of those rare vegetables that tolerate part shade – stick to these if you know your garden won’t be receiving full sun

For Flowers:

  • Once again, when it comes to flower options, the sky’s the limit. Do you want some classic red roses? Or would you rather go for bright peonies?
  • Some perennial favourites perfect for Ontario gardens include coneflowers, peruvian lilies, forget-me-nots, gloriosa daisies, hydrangeas, geraniums, fern-leaf yarrows, and astilbes

Start Planting

After the danger of frost has passed, plant seeds of heat-loving crops. Use our guide to spring gardening to start exercising your green thumb! Get a head start on your garden now and you’ll be rewarded with a colourful spring bounty.

For Vegetables:

  • To make sure your vegetable seeds germinate, make sure to plant them in the right medium and the right kind of environment. If you purchased your seeds from a garden centre, follow the directions on the package, making sure to read instructions carefully

For Flowers:

  • After you’ve figured out what flowers you want to include, it’s time to start planting. As always, plant these according to package instructions. As a general rule, you don’t need to dig holes more than 2-3 inches deep if you’re planting flowers from seeds
  • When you finish planting, feed your seeds some slow-release flower food. Pour a few tablespoons into each hole, and mix it into the soil with your fingers –  this will help your seeds grow more quickly

Consider Other Backyard Additions

Blossoming buds and vibrant vegetables may be the stars of the show, but even after everything’s planned and planted, your outdoor project doesn’t have to come to an end. Why not continue the DIY adventure with some other beautiful backyard ideas this Spring? A flagstone walkway, classic birdhouse, or lush window display is a perfect finishing touch to an already-attractive garden.

Spring Gardens for Beginners in Ontario

It’s been a long, brutal Ontario winter, but the first signs of spring are in the air!