Documents: Latest From:

Planning Your Garden
by Brenda Ruzycki
by Brenda Ruzycki

Brenda's has 25 years experience working in the horticulture industry.

March 24, 2002

Use wintertime to plan your garden

Besides snowboarders, skiers and snowmobile fanatics, gardeners really appreciated this recent dump of snow that we've had. 

What the snow cover has really done is brought us more moisture. It also has bought us more time. All of you anxious gardeners are probably questioning me. More time for what? All I really want to do is go out and start digging around! 

If you haven't already started, now is the time for planning that ideal garden. Decisions have to be made as to where you should relocate, remove or add perennials, shrubs and trees in your existing landscape. If your yard has no interest or creative flow to it, perhaps you may want to start from scratch. Do not make any gardening decisions or purchases until you have a plan.

Take as much time as possible to plan. If you wait until May to get help from a landscape designer or from experts at a garden centre, you will only be disappointed as you may not get the immediate attention you would have in March. Now is the time to plan and May is the time to start planting.

It is important to plan the location of each area within your outdoor living space carefully. Start out by deciding how you will be using your yard. Do you want a deck, patio or both? Do you want an outdoor fireplace, hot tub, vegetable garden, water garden, garden shed or play area for the children? What theme or themes will your garden have? Natural, formal, Victorian, Country Cottage, etc? 

You may want to consider several theme gardens such as a lily, rose, butterfly or cutting flower garden. Make a list of trees, shrubs and perennials that you really like and those which you prefer not to use. I call this a 'likes' and a 'dislikes' list. Once you determine how you will be using your yard, you can start planning the spaces accordingly.

Before you get started, it is essential that you have a plot plan that is to scale. Always note where 'north' is on the plan, as the orientation of buildings and fences are very important. Show all drainage patterns, utilities, existing features and hard landscaping such as walks, decks, patios, etc. Make numerous copies of this plan, as these will be your working drawings.

Start out by planning appropriate locations in your yard for each of your uses. For example, if you want a vegetable garden you would choose a sunny location. Mark this area on your plan as you would for an outdoor fireplace, small seating area, patio, shed, etc. Sit back and review each space and its location on the plan. Ensure that the spaces all flow together and that they are all in logical places. 

Now start planning each space individually. Show all plants on the plan at their mature size. For example, a spruce tree will grow to be five metres at mature size. Show your circle as mature size - not the size it was when you brought it home from the garden centre. Always include plants from all seasons so that you have colour in spring, summer, fall and winter throughout your yard. 

Having a plan in place will prevent major grief later on. Plan now so that you will be ready to garden when the snow melts.


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row