Gardening Help, Please.

This is the house we live in. It was built in 1900. It has really good bones. We have been really blessed to so far have only cosmetic changes that we have to make to it.

Unfortunately, the outside is just a MESS. A mess being an understatement here.EVERYTHING needs painted this summer- garage, fence and house.

The former owner repainted it just a few years ago but for some reason his paint reacted to something and it`s now all peeling off. So if you ever go past you`ll know it`s us by the “house with the peeling paint”.

These pics were taken l;ast summer when we were moving in. They were the only ones I had on file. It still looks mostly the same.

I found it to be SUCH a blessing to move in the fall- that way I had all winter to work on the inside, so I feel like that is at an ‘okay’ place now that`s it`spring and we need to get outside.

HERE is my dilemma. I almost lose sleep because I know so little about flowers, tips on arranging gardens, where to put what and when…


See. When we first got married we lived in an upper level apartment- no yard. Then we lived in a house where it had shrubs and so I only did potted plants.

This was a little rock fountain. do to being a child safety hazard- we are tearing it out and putting in a little raised bed garden. Either with rocks or railroad ties around it.

We live right in the middle of town and so we need to be able to have some veggies somewhere.

A pretty nice open area. Some of it is “patiod” I`m not sure what it`s called. Some kind of fake stones. Right now it`s filthy, but could be pretty.

Anyways- having said all that- could ya`ll PLEASE AND I MEANΒ  PLEASE send me wisdom on landscaping, what plants are cool when, gardening tip, mulching/edging news, ANYTHING remotely related to all this talk.

No piece of help from you will go unthank…ful…ized.

Yes, obviously that`s not a word.

But it should be.

Sorry, I don`t have time to add SSSs. Although I do have a nice stash to share right now… πŸ™‚

Love, Jenny

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  1. Wilma says:

    Ahh, gardening…one of my favorite things. Having said that, I am no expert, and gardens are a little like your house – very individual. What I like, you may not, and vice versa. But, here are a few things.
    Your landscaping & gardens are never finished. There is always something to move, new plants to try, old plants that didn’t work out, etc. My house had no landscaping when I moved in 4 years ago (4!?!?), and you wouldn’t know it today. I worked inside the house the 1st summer, and landscaped the 2nd summer, so it’s 3 yrs old. Hmm, off track here.
    Invest in some base plants – evergreens, trees, shrubs. They’re more expensive, so that may need to be added slowly. For these, I like to look for something that has at least 3 season interest – especially winter.
    Grasses are a great filler, and provide fall & winter interest as well. Looove grasses. There are so many interesting colors & textures. Fast growing, inexpensive, tall & strong, delicate & wispy, plumes…
    Curves beds instead of straight beds. Waaay more graceful & interesting.
    If at all possible, use rocks instead of railroad ties. They’re just cooler, and you can curve your beds.
    Look through flower catalogs to get an idea of what you like, and you can even order from them, but most of what I get is from the local greenhouses. Go to the greenhouse, see what they have, get what you like, and go from there.
    Plan your long term/permanent plantings first, then fill in with flowers. In other words, decide where you want your trees, shrubs and base plants (things you don’t want to move around), and then stuff like grasses, and then flowers. If you know you want something permanent somewhere but can’t afford it, fill in with something tall & bushy, but which can be removed easily later.
    Aged horse manure (with straw, not wood shavings) = gold. Add some when you’re planting. I mixed manure, dirt, & sphagnum peat moss in my wheelbarrow, and when I dug a hole for a plant, I put that dirt in a separate bucket, and used my mixture to fill in the hole around the plant.
    Water, water, water. The first year is the most important. Especially larger plants.
    Read the plant information – height, sun & water requirements & plant accordingly. Of course the plant needs to be right for your zone.
    I like to plant big things in the corners, and if you want to cover something, but make sure you can still get to the essential stuff (gas tank, meters, etc).
    Create a mix of textures & shapes with your plants. Think of it as decorating with flowers instead of things.
    This is QUITE long enough now! Have fun, and relax. It doesn’t all need to get done in one summer. It won’t all get done in one summer.

  2. Linda Hershey says:

    oh wow. I would so come in there and help with landscaping if you came back with me and decorated!! I have ideas but…no rhyme not reason to what I do! I’m going to tell you this tho. For jsut a good dose of color and filler you need to plant zinnias. They’re just great and make amzing cut flower bouquets. They DO need sun. And it’s not like they are ugly in two days either! As you can see, I love me some zinnias!!

  3. Mary Ann Schlabach says:

    Here’s a little SSS that I found out from someone (have no idea where)… if you want a quick and easy way to clean button mushrooms…simply take a pastry brush and just brush off the dirt on the mushrooms. They get soggy if you wash them. I’ve tried this and it works wonders for me! πŸ™‚

    • Mary Ann Schlabach says:

      I’m not a gardening expert by any means but I do LOVE ornamental grasses…they’re perfect for hiding unsightly things!!!!

  4. Aug says:

    Ok, you DID say that no piece of help will go unthank-ful-ized. But what if I have NO help at all? Will that be uthank-ful-ized? I certainly hope not! πŸ˜‰ That would make me feel bad!

    Anyway, my thumb is whatever color is the opposite of green. Any endeavours I have made in this department have turned out horribly. Stuff dies. A lot. The only thing I could ever keep alive was some green potted house plant that didn’t seem to care whether you watered it or not. And I do OK with putting flowers in pots or the hanging baskets that you buy in the spring and hang by your front porch, but even those, I forget to give plant food or whatever to keep them looking nice and healthy.

    But…here is where I can maybe be helpful! I have total faith in your abilities to figure it out. Because you always make things that aren’t pretty…pretty. So I bet by the time I ever see your place…it will be beautiful!

  5. julana says:

    gardening. i could talk all day. but first of all i don’t think you should be so hard on yourself. you will get it. and its so fun to learn. be creative (which you are) you’ll get it. it’s so fun desining a flower bed and if you can do it inside you’ll get it outside too. also i’d recomind going to 4 star betty’s preinals sale this spring. i love seeing preinals coming up year after year. and hers are cheaper then at the store. also any flowers you buy will say for shade or sun how much waterd or whatever on there tag so honestly if you kinda figure our ahead of your flower shopping were you want them planted and what then obey the instructions- shade or not and water them YOU WILL BE FINE! take your time learning cause it’s so much fun to learn and every summer you’ll do better and better. honestly don’t stress. flower beds were ment to enjoy not stress over. this year i’m going with a color theme. i dream almost every night as i fall asleep were and what i’m gonna do. i have to hold back this year with the baby coming in the middle of summer cause i might now be able to keep up but i still dream. enjoy jenny and have confidence you’ll do fine! always load on the mulch at then end and WAL LA! gorgeouse and fun! can’t wait for you to enjoy this too! you’ve been missing out.

  6. Becky says:

    my advice is gonna sound mature and boring. ok. maybe just boring. and maybe lazy?? to some??…but here goes…remember that you have little kids and gardening/landscaping takes alot of time in maintenance!

    it’s so much fun to plan and plant..but then it doesnt stop there. it needs tended and watered and weeded. and, trust me, i love the work…being outside and keeping something beautiful. but it soon can turn into big time frustration if it’s too much! s

    o my advice is to just get everything nicely cleaned up and then plant lots of grass for yard…of course leaving the areas that you KNOW you want flower beds. then start with the basics…like the bushes and trees and maybe some perrenials if you are certain about them. there is always next yeart to add more. you can always add flower beds later or more plants too. lawn is easy peasy cuz you just mow n edge and it looks great. mulch the “empty” areas to keep the weeds down and for a nicer look.

    also…use preen (i think that is what it is called)…i would sprinkle it on around my plants BEFORE you mulch….keeps weeds WAAAY down. you just dont want to really use it in the “edible garden”

    prob not the most popular idea in holmes co….but more practical πŸ™‚ haha. whatever you guys do will be beautiful! cant wait to see pix. πŸ™‚

  7. Lydia Petersheim says:

    my thumb is far from “green” too, but i got some good advice from someone when i was starting my gardens, and it was very helpful and true…
    *always plant in odd numbers-get 1, 3, 5, etc. of one plant and plant in a grouping-makes much more of a statement.
    my Mom always says…”first year your flowers will weep, second they will creep, and third they will leap”
    your house is beautiful…and your blog inspiring! make sure you let us know on your progress outside. Lydia

  8. Di says:

    There are many good books and web sites out there. Remember, flowers/plants can always be replanted. ;)If you don’t like it, change it. Set your plants out in the pot arranging it first before planting, gives you an idea how it will look. Good luck! BTW you have good taste, I know it will follow you straight to your garden as well.

  9. Carmen Byler says:

    I agree with many previous commenters….you will do great! But, I would also echo Becky’s advice. From my own experience, with little ones, I am not able to keep up with my summer work outside. Then it drives me nuts, because i hate to see weeds….ugh! I like to do something and “be done”. But, they say a true gardener is “never done”. So, you kind of have to be okay with seeing the “undone”. I always try to remind myself that I notice the weeds/mess probably more then others who don’t live around it every day.

    Working with odd numbers is the way to go….as was mentioned earlier.

    Some plants I love, love, love….

    *of course the spring ones…like tulips!, daffodils, haicinth (sp?) crocus.
    Love the Peonies, but they are messy when the flowers die!

    My Hosta’s do really good, are beautiful, and are low maintance. (i love that word – “low maintance”!) We have lots of grasses that were here when we bought the place and they are beautiful. In the spring you can divide them….and you are sooooo welcome to come get as much as you want “free”. There are some really nice striped ones. If you are interested I can find some pictures so you can see what they look like. Hosta’s can be (it’s good for them) divided in the spring as well. Again…I have a lot of different varieties and you are so welcome to come get ’em! You can even use my shovel…and I can use Ravi’s to help you πŸ˜‰

    Oh, another idea that I thought about. Down south when my parents built they had a nursery come out and draw up a landscaping plan. They do this free if you purchase the plants from them. I don’t know if the local area nurserys do this or not?

    This is very rambly, but there is my 2 cents worth….

    Don’t stress. =D

    P.S. alot of spring garage sales (specially the amish) will have perenials for really cheap.

  10. Carmen Byler says:

    I forgot to mention that I have heard that shrubs/grasses are fine with bark mulch. But, flowers like the leaf or mushroom mulch much better. There is an Amish man, two roads over from us (not sure of the road #?) who has awesome mulch that we always get for our flowers. Just drive the truck over and he loads you up, and off you go …. to work your butt off! =)

    I can get more info on the mulch man if you need it….

  11. Laurie Mullet says:

    We live in a small lot in town as well so have to be efficient with what we do. For landscaping around the house we use the big greens (shrubs, small trees, we love Japanese maples) for the bones and then I still use big pots, hanging baskets, and window boxes to add pops of color with flowers. I love containers because I can move them and rearrange if I want. Our vegetables go in raised beds built out of cedar but they can be made out of railroad ties, landscaping ties, whatever. I just plant them pretty full and add enough flowers and herbs to keep it pretty because on our 1/2 acre there’s no hiding anything. Its pretty low maintenance with weeding but takes lots of watering. Whatever you do keep it manageable or you start hating the plants by the end of the summer! Good luck!

  12. Tracy says:

    Wow all the advice is very interesting I personally love ornamental grasses and they really aren’t alot of work all you have to do is trim them off in the fall, but if it’s something you like don’t buy it I dig some of mine out every spring and throw it away. Most perennials people are more than willing to give away because you have to thin them out every so often.

  13. Shannon says:

    You’d think that since my mom is a gardening extradinaire that I would be really gifted in this area. However, I always opted for babysitting (so I could read my book) instead of working out in the garden with her growing up, so now I’m having to learn alot from her. Which by the way, I’m sure she would have lots of perennials she could give you for free when she’s cleaning out her beds this spring. I’ll ask her about it. My main thing is that you have to make sure your ground is good – having lived in the city with horrible dirt , and bugs this is a big deal. Make sure you plant everything in the right spots ( sun, shade, etc…) Don’t forget that your trees grow out and can make shade where you didn’t remember there was shade. (happened to me) and also like Becky said – keeping them nice is alot of work. Mine always went to pot by July and I was too lazy to water them and keep them nice. And right now they are totally trashed because we kept the dog back there and she ruined everything. Hoping to start anew when we move to the new house.With the size of place you have and all the flowerbeds around it seems like it would take at least one evening a week just to keep everything weeded and stuff – I know my mom spends probably 2 days a week in the spring/summer working outside plus alot of evenings. She loves it – it’s like therapy to her. I look at that and say wow that’s alot of time – but she spends zero time on the computer, doesn’t do photography and her youngest is 10. That’s what we have to look forward to. πŸ™‚ There is so much good advice here in the comments. I’m going to have to come back here when I’m ready to do my stuff.

  14. Heather says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to see what you do?!?! One of the best parts is being able to re-do whatever you don’t like……

    Most of what I’m saying is a repeat of what someone else has already said. Might be a waste of your time just reading this comment. πŸ™‚

    At any rate – be SURE your soil is good. Takes a bit more work in the beginning but work in a bunch of manure. Adding the right fertilizer, some soil needs sand, etc….. If you start with bad soil it becomes quite disheartening when your plants don’t do well. πŸ™

    I have a LOT of perennials. I would be glad to give you some if you like. (Side note: I am looking for some ornamental grasses. If you hear of people who are looking to get rid of some or selling for a good price, would you be willing to let me know?)

    Do you have a lot of shade? or more sun? I love ferns and they love shade. I love to have some spring bulbs. It’s so much fun to have a few flowers blooming this time of year already. I also love my bleeding hearts. I have one bed with a lot of herbs. The chives look almost like the spikes you can buy and anytime I need a dash of flavor I run out and grab some. I guess I could be telling you this tonight….. πŸ™‚

    I would like to echo what a few other ladies mentioned. Don’t do too much. Our place has a ton of beds!!!!! It takes tons of time!!!!!! Time that I don’t always have and I would rather be spending with my family or friends. I really enjoy it but for this season of my life it’s not always practical. I got rid of one bed last fall.

    Good luck!

  15. marilyn says:

    Sounds like you have a lot of advice already. Here are my 2 cents.
    1. Do not do railroad ties. They rot and get ugly fast.
    2. This is an echo of Beckys and Julanas…. Flower beds are work. Get 4star Betty to help you out. She is cheap and does a great job and I love her LOTS!! She can help you know where to plant what and whatever you want is probably growing in her field πŸ™‚

  16. Clarita says:

    WOW, you got some good advice!! I haven’t had gardens since almost 4 years ago when we moved to GA and our rental house is bare bones with landscaping. Soooo, I have the same thing ahead of me. I can’t wait to see what you do!! I think your house has lots of potential – all old houses do. I’m trying to figure out how to keep things low-maintenance because of having kids and wanting to have time for things other than weeding gardens all year.

    I really enjoyed gardening a few years ago, but southern soil is a completely different story, and I feel like I’m going to have to learn all over again. Going to start with lots of base plants – shrubs, trees, woody things. Probably not have many annuals this year for time’s sake and because they take much more watering. And I tell myself that I have to be PATIENT. I want to plant everything and have it look like it’s been there 10 years, but that will only come in time. We can’t spend the money to buy ten year old plants, so I need to be patient. Lots of Miracle-Gro, lots of Miracle-Gro. πŸ™‚

    Kinda fun to be at sort of the same place with exterior with you. We’re sorting through exterior paint colors right now and hopefully painting will begin next week. Interior though, will be further down the road. Major overhaul inside still continues…

    Happy weekend to you!

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