Every May I love to walk through the local garden centers and check out all of the beautiful trees, shrubs and of course, the beautiful annuals in all their glorious colors.  When I see a flower I don’t have, I want it. When a new cold weather variety of a tropical is produced, I want it too. My answer when my husband asks “Where are you going to plant that?”  I’ll just create a new bed!

The problem with this is that many of us are May gardeners.  What’s a May gardener? It means quite simply that we are not April-October gardeners.  When the season hits and plants flood the garden centers in May, the urge to buy and and dig in the dirt hits.  But are you still excited to pull on your gardening gloves when the blooms fade, the hot weather hits and watering early in the morning or late at night is required.  Are we willing to dig, divide, prune, deadhead, weed, fertilize and spray for pests? If yes, then create beds to your heart's content but know that what you create, you must maintain...and that is what separates the May gardeners from the true gardeners.  

For all of you just starting out and not sure what kind of gardener you are yet, follow these easy tips when thinking about creating a new landscape bed.  For those of you who already know you are indeed a May gardener...annuals in pots may be a great fix to your May gardening urge!

  • First and foremost, what are you willing to maintain?  Do you want to plant it and forget about it other than the occasional watering, or invest time on a regular schedule to keep it looking good.  Make sure you understand the needs of each plant or you’ll be throwing away money purchasing new plants. Start out with low maintenance plants at first until you can decide how much time you’re willing to invest.  

  • What are your landscape needs?  You might determine that you’d like a large landscape bed in the middle of the yard now, but what about when the kids are a little older and backyard baseball games become the main summer evening activity.  

  • Consider all environmental factors?  Do winds sweep around a certain corner of your house?  Is the backyard full sun and the front full shade? What side of the house does the sun rise?  Are there areas that receive more water when it rains?

  • Don’t be in a hurry. Take a summer and really think about the space observing the light and most importantly, how you live in the space.  You may want a butterfly garden, but putting it to close to the area where the kids play may not be a good idea. Butterfly gardens attract beautiful butterflies but also bees.  

  • You can always make a bed bigger...making it smaller is much more difficult.  Most of my beds tend to expand in size with age. I’m guilty of loving new, clean mulch lines each year and I tend to increase the size of the bed for that reason alone.  Making a 20’ by 20’ bed is great unless you discover after the sod has been killed or ripped up that your plants look better in a 10’ by 10’ bed. Hello garden center for more plants!  

  • Think about plants that you may divide in several years and save yourself some money.  Daylilies, Hostas, Iris’s plus many others and expand and need to be divided after several years of growth.  Don't feel the need to have a bed filled the first year with expensive, young plants. Keep it airy and divide then transplant within the same bed.  

  • Last but certainly not least...soil is everything.  Better to spend some money now on additives to create good quality soil for your plants than replacing plants later.