Backyard Landscape – Correct Planning of the Beds is the Most Important Part of Small Garden Design

Of all the components, parts, pieces, and plants that go into making up your small garden design the most important, by far, is the soil itself.

Soil rich in nutrients, with good drainage, is the best insurance you can get to enhance your new garden. On the other hand, if your soil is not healthy, or if your site does not have good drainage, there is almost no chance of successfully growing a healthy, vibrant garden.

Obviously, all plants need water, and some need more than others but most plants used in landscaping will not do well if they are over watered. So, when planning your small garden design, you must include planning on how your planting beds are going to drain.

Because many areas of the country have soil that has a very high clay content, drainage can be pretty challenging.

Many gardeners deal with clay by digging out six inches or so of soil and then adding a healthy topsoil mix fortified with peat moss. Even though this seems to be a good way to attack the problem, in reality all you have done is build a bathtub that will retain water to the point where the soil you have added is soggy all the time.

If this is your challenge I think the only real workable solution is to build raised planting beds. Adding six to twelve inches of height, or even more, will allow the planting bed to drain through your structure naturally which, in turn, will promote healthy growth.

Correctly planning your beds at the beginning is critical to your later success. Remember that once you begin planting it will not be possible to add more soil to your beds without removing all the already installed planting first.

As they used to say, keep the six “Ps” in mind: Prior Planning Prevents Pretty Poor Performance!

Garden Irrigation – Which System is Right For Your Small Garden Design?

One area of small garden design that is often overlooked in the planning stages is irrigation.

Planning for how you are going to get water to your new plants is important because the plants you choose to include in your small garden design may very well have different needs than the rest of your backyard landscape.

In some cases, depending on where you are locating your new garden and the plants you choose, your existing irrigation system will work just fine. Even if your “system” is just you standing there with a hose it will do the job of delivering water to a specified spot.

But, if you aren’t keen on spending the time to hand water the next step up the ladder is to use one of the many sprinklers that attach to the hose. The beauty of these is that they will work without any involvement from you other than turning the water on and off. The drawback is that they throw a lot of water and much of it will probably end up where it is not really required. Think about it; how often do you see a hose sprinkler watering asphalt, concrete, or the house itself?

The most effective method of home irrigation is, by far, a complete underground system. When properly planned and installed, these systems deliver water only where you want through a mixture of sprinkler heads with different patterns and different water flow rates. They are also usually capable of being programmed for fully automatic operation without any involvement from you once you have the controller programmed correctly.

The drawback to these systems is that they can be very expensive, especially if they are professionally installed. Someone has to do all the digging to bury the pipes and that does not come cheap! Because domestic water supplies do not usually have enough pressure, a pump is often required as well. Also, many cities require a permit before installation.

A good compromise between hand watering and a fully automatic underground set up is a drip irrigation system. This works just like its name. Water is supplied directly to the roots of the plants one drop at a time. Because evaporation and runoff are minimal drip irrigation is the most water efficient. Water pressure requirement for proper operation is much lower as well.

As is the case with the underground system, a drip irrigation system uses tubing and heads to deliver the water precisely where you want it. But, the tubing it much smaller and flexible and can be buried much closer to the surface which makes installation much easier.

The most significant drawbacks to a drip irrigation set up are that it is very difficult to regulate water flow up a steep slope. And, drip irrigation is not effective for lawns.

Do your homework on which irrigation system is going to work best in your new small garden design and incorporate it into your plans from the beginning. Once your new garden is completed, everything will be in place for a healthy growing environment.