Where do we start? The first step before doing anything is knowing your zone. What plants will strive in the area you live without killing the plants year after year. Here in the Charlotte Metropolitan area, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Indian Trail, Gastonia, etc. we range from a 7b to an 8a. Plant tags will tell you which zones the plant will survive in, so be sure to find it on your plant tag.
Getting your ideas is an important step to the garden of your dreams. Whether it be from magazines, the internet, driving around and seeing what others have that you like, or just knowing what you want, start there. Start slow, start small, but have fun and be creative!
Pick the right place to put your garden. Spend a day watching how much sun your area gets. When you get to the nursery, the tags will not only tell you the zone, they will tell you how many hours of sun each plant needs. If you don't want to spend hours looking at each tag, find a knowledgeable salesperson. You can always tell who has been working with plants for years, and those new to the job.
Get rid of any sod covering the ground, then start digging. Be sure to improve your soil. Add compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clipping or old manure. You can also use bulk compost or aged mushroom soil. Most of us have clay in our soil which isn't that great for growing many plants, so it's very important to work compost into it, and use good soil around each plant.
Now it's time to head to the nursery, Home Depot, Lowes, wherever you buy your plants, and get picking!
Better Homes and Gardens suggest:
The top 15 Top Native Plants for Southern Gardens
1. Helen's Flower 9. False Indigo
2. Stokes' Aster 10. Bugbane
3. Royal Catchfly 11. Northern Sea
4. Woodland Phlox 12. Bee Balm
5. Swamp Lily 13. Crested Iris
6. Pitcher Plant 14. Hardy Hibiscus
7. Rain Lily 15. Indian Pink
8. Foam Flower
Or if you are more into Shrubs
1. Flowering Quince 4. Sweetshrub
2. Crape Myrtle 5. Camellia
3. Oakleaf Hydrangea 6. Rose of Sharon
Keep things simple to begin with. You can do more later. Simplicity in planting, for instance, would be to pick two or three colors and repeat them throughout the garden or landscape. Keeping decor to a minimum and within a specific theme as well as keeping hardscape such as boulders consistent is also practicing simplicity.
Water your plants daily. You can taper off as plants get larger, every other day until roots become established. Then water depending on your soil, humidity, and how often it rains. Water slowly and deeply and in the early morning.
Mulching is important as well. Mulch helps to keep weeds out and water in. Cover with a couple of inches. There are all types of mulch available. Pine needles are prominent around here. A 2 inch layer of pine needles makes an excellent mulch. They tend to interlock and stay in place better than most mulches especially on a slope. Termites do not like pine needles. You can put it in your beds without fear of termites that comes with most hardwoods.
Living in neighborhoods in North and South Carolina gives us the heat and sunshine we need to grow amazingly beautiful gardens. Your flower beds and landscape are a reflection of your personality. They are the your thoughts and dreams coming alive for your friends, family and neighbors to see.