With September—the best gardening month in the East Bay—quickly approaching, it’s time to take a thorough peek at your flowers and shrubs to evaluate whether you need to do a bit of fall freshening or perhaps dig into a substantial gardening endeavor. Whether you are thinking about selling in the upcoming year or want to zip up your curb appeal to make your house look more like the home of your dreams, the garden is a terrific place to begin.
Here are a few tips to help you make it happen:
Have a Vision
The best way to transform your garden is to know what you want it to look like before you head to the garden store and get out the shovel. Begin by looking through homestyle magazines, gardening blogs, Instagram photos and Pinterest sites to see what aesthetic you are drawn to for your garden. Do you want it to look like an English garden, a Mediterranean escape, have Spanish style flavor, or maybe you’re interested in trying your hand at xeriscaping? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to add some elements of hardscape such as boulders, stone elements, or metal work. Whatever your desires, now’s the time solidify your dream into an actual plan. If you want to conceive of something beyond your personal gardening prowess, this is the time to talk to a landscape designer. The important thing is to begin with a vision and a plan for what you want.
Know Your Zone
Once you have your vision firmly planted in your mind, you’ll want to research the flora that thrives in your town’s Zone. The US Department of Agriculture has broken the country into planting zones to help gardeners know which plants will grow well where they live. The great news is that there is an abundance of plants in the East Bay’s Zones to create a garden of any style. Here’s a breakdown of the towns we cover: Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington, Oakland, and Piedmont are in Zone 10. Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, and Walnut Creek are in Zone 9. One great resource to find plants suited to your zone is gardenia.net. Scroll down and click on your zone and photos and descriptions of a bounty of plants will be at your fingertips.
Make a Long-Term Plan
Your plan, of course, will depend upon whether you’re settling into the home of your dreams, plan to stay in your home only a few years, or are getting your dwelling ready to sell. If you plan to set roots in your home, then likewise choose plants that will live a long time and mature into the look you are hoping for. If you plan to stay for only a few years or less, choosing plants that mature quickly is a good option, so your garden will look lush and lovely while you’re there. And if you are sprucing up your garden to create some quick curb appeal and whet the appetite of buyers, you are going to want to choose plants that are already substantial in size and preferably blooming if they have flowers. And, whether you plan to stay in your home for a long or short time, you can always supplement your trees and shrubs with seasonal plants and flowers to give you the immediate joy of seeing a gorgeous garden when you arrive home.
Create Quick Beauty
If you have a garden that is already well established but simply needs a little tender loving care, a quick and easy way to boost up the loveliness-quotient is to fill in the empty spaces with seasonal plantings and layers of flowers. Creating borders using annuals is another satisfying way to bring some lush to your landscape. Refreshing or adding container gardens and potted plants adds color and visual complexity to your garden as well. And remember to add some compost and mulch to keep your soil happy!