Posted on by Sarah Allinson-Chorabik

There’s nothing I love more than being out in our gardens and fields and breathing in the same fresh air as our bees. Nature grounds us and there’s nothing more satisfying than enjoying the fruits of your labour. If you’ve never tried your hand at gardening, this is your year - and I’m happy to help. 

Start with a list of needs and wants. Are you looking for a space to grow vegetables? Do your kids need a spot to play? Prioritizing your landscaping will help you see how much yard you really have to work with. Consider things you can’t control – sun and wind patterns, for example. You might like a patio on the east side of your property, but once you see how much afternoon sun it gets, you might change your mind. Remember, sun patterns differ in the winter.

Find a focal point. An easy design principle for beginners is to have a centerpiece (a stunning tree, sculpture, fountain, plant, etc.). This will help direct your eye around the landscape.

Scale your design; using variations in size, shape and color. Start with tall plants at the back and remember to space each plant properly. Repetition in the garden creates cohesion but keeping a few elements different prevents monotony. Of course, I always like to recommend plenty of pollen producing plants. Include native pollinator friendly plants throughout the garden. They are beautiful in any garden and help out the bees. Vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants can also produce pollen such as cucumbers, chives, and echinacea. 

Once you have the basics of your plan in place (usually the focal point), sit with your landscape for a while… and hopefully it includes a nice seating area where you can actually sit and take-in your creative design. After living with the set up for a week or two, you may change your mind and shift things around. Listen to your heart make sure you love it. 

The best tip to keep in mind is to start small. It's fun to watch makeover shows on TV, but don’t forget: when they do the big reveal after just a few days' work, a crew of 30 people or more is usually behind those tight deadlines. Gardening and landscaping is supposed to be enjoyable. Keep at it, and when you need to, go back to your master plan from the beginning and work on one element at a time. “Bee” calm and landscape on, friends!