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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Simonie

Turning My Thumb Green

Let me preface this by telling you that my grandmother is probably rolling over in her grave by the lack of green thumb I turned out to be. I would spend hours upon hours at her house (which was just a few blocks from my own). She had the most beautiful garden that she kept pristine year round. She was the envy of the neighborhood. My mom and other relatives all took their wedding photos in her yard, using her garden as a backdrop.

I had pretty much thrown in the towel on gardening. I managed to kill any plant that came into view. We did ok with the landscape updates at our first home, but that was easy; it was just updates. However, when Matt and I decided we were going to overhaul the entire landscape of our new home to match our style, I wasn’t so sure I was ready to take on the challenge.

You see, indoors, that is my thing. I can put together great décor and have everything flow. I can turn someone’s old space into our comfy home. All it takes is a little Pinterest magic (hmm I suspect another post in the future). But outdoors… there are living things outdoors. Those living things have instructions on where to plant them, the type of soil, how much water, when to water, how much sunlight, exposure, etc. It wasn’t going to be as easy as “ohhh that looks pretty there!”

We could have just hired a landscape company to do the work for us. They could tell us what plants should go where and design it all for us. Easy peezy, lemon squeezy. Except that costs money, a lot of money. I should also preface that our house was in desperate need of a new roof and painting after 12 years of not being touched and the 2017 wind-pocalypse. The bills were adding up and since the roof and house repair/paint were necessities and both tasks that could not be done by us, it was looking like it was DIY landscape time for the Simonie’s.

After getting slightly overwhelmed with the amount of designs and plants I liked on Pinterest, we enlisted the help of our parents. My mom actually had the gardening bible from my grandma that details every annual and perennial plant that exists (I’m not even exaggerating) and what type of environment each is best suited in. After quite a few trips back and forth to our local nursery, we were able to narrow down the plants we really liked and budget out what we were going to get. We were able to purchase, plant, and mulch all in two days.



Here are a few easy steps to follow:

1. Know your style and how much you want to maintain your garden. Annuals = need to be replanted every year and require a lot of daily watering and care. Perennials = continue to come back yearly on their own and can be watered every other day or so with a sprinkler system (aka lower maintenance).

2. Make a rough sketch of your garden so you can plan out where the plants will go and how many you will need. This will prevent overbuying and multiple trips to the nursery.

3. Take pictures on your phone of the areas you are planting. The people that helped us at the nursery we went to were extremely knowledgeable and could tell us exactly what would fit where and whether the type of sun exposure would be good for that type of plant.

4. Watch for sales, especially on easy filler plants like hostas and daylillies. If you are buying a lot at once, most places will have deals when you buy more.

5. Lay everything out before you start digging and planting. This makes it easier to redesign and truly see your vision. Plus, a lot of places will allow returns on plants so long as it is in its original condition and was never removed from the planter (just in case you over bought or didn’t like how something looked in person).

6. Work together to make the planting go faster. Have one person dig the holes while the other follows placing and planting the plants.

7. Watch for sales on mulch too! A lot of your local nurseries and home improvement stores will run sales on bags or bulk purchases of mulch. We prefer bags because it is much easier to transport and tear open individual bags of mulch than having a large pile dropped off in your driveway and then using a wheel barrel to move it back and forth and back and forth. You get the picture. The bag option is slightly more expensive but saved us time and back aches in the end.

8. Water, water, water! Make sure those new plants survive their new home. Take a step back and soak in all your hard work!

9. Be patient and plan for your garden to fill in as the plants grow. We were so busy looking at Pinterest perfect gardens we forgot that plants need time to grow or you have to have money spilling out of your pockets to make your garden look like that right away. With time and a little TLC, you will have a Pinterest worthy garden yourself! 

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