There is one space in our home that is constantly neglected, and unfortunately it’s the first space guests see when they come over….our courtyard. I was so happy to team up with one of my favorite plant companies, Monrovia, to give it a MUCH needed overhaul this spring and make it a bit more presentable!
Now, I will say, this area was MUCH worse when we first moved in so at least we’ve made some updates, but for the last year or so it’s gone downhill. Mainly because it’s 93947 degrees out here the majority of the year. But enough is enough once again, it’s time for overhaul #2 and May is the perfect time of year to do so. Here’s what I was working with: overgrown plants, weeds, falling apart pots, piles of leaves, and super old thin mulch.
In giving our courtyard beds this overhaul, I thought it’d be the perfect time to also give y’all my five hands-down best tips for making sure those new additions start off on the right foot. I’m sure you’ve heard them all before, I always did too, but I also paid no mind to them until recently. There’s a reason they’re suggested all the time… they work.
5 Tips for New Garden Plants
1. Choose quality plants that are right for you
We’ve done a lot of landscaping around our house so of course one of my favorite pastimes is to stroll through our local garden centers for inspiration. It’s easy to get caught up in the beautiful plants you see at the store, but that doesn’t mean they’re all a good fit for your home/environment. Always do research beforehand to find out what plants are best suited for your conditions. This includes a species’ water, soil, sunlight, and spacing requirements. Almost always, the plants that will do best for you are ones that are native to the area (obviously) so go native if possible. After figuring out which plants could work for you, head to local garden center to find them. Look for healthy quality plants; lush growth, no roots sprawling out of the bottom, no parasites or browning/yellowing leaves, and moist/damp soil showing it has been routinely watered.
2. Do the bigger hole thing
I know, this one is a pain in the rear. I totally scoffed and didn’t do it for years either. BUT, when my horticulture-pro aunt told me yet again to do the same I decided to heed that advice. I try to do a hole about double the diameter of the pot if I can, or at least a good few inches extra around the root ball. It just makes sense, the more loose and aerated soil around those roots, the more rapidly they will grow. And in that time, they will become stronger and able to adapt to the native soil.
3. Water them in
Once you have that nice big hole dug and before you add your plant, spray a decent amount of water into the hole (~2″) and on the sides. Then place your plant in and backfill as normal. In doing this, those roots which are so used to the water pampering of the garden center won’t have to immediately meet dry soil. Sure you’ll water after planting, but this way they’ll stay nice and wet all the way down to give them a good start.
4. Speaking of water, give ’em plenty
Even if you are planting a dry, xeriscaped bed, those plants are still super sensitive for the first few weeks. You’ll want to give them plenty of water and TLC in that time so that they have a strong start, or even plan on planting them right before a big rain is coming. Keep an eye out for any drooping/wilting, and try to water them every other day or so if possible, more frequent if they keep wilting. During and after this initial period, I always install soaker hoses to make it easier on me to water the plants. Ain’t nobody got time to stand there for an hour watering everyone.
5. Mulch, mulch, mulch, and mulch some more
So, your new friends are all nice and cozy in their new homes, now it’s time to tuck them in (corny, I know). But truly, mulching is the last vital step in finishing off a strong, successful planting. As something I also skimped on in the beginning, it’s taken me a while to learn that while it may totally stink to buy a gazillion bags of mulch that seems like way too many, it is very much worth it in the end. The thicker you can pile it on (3-4″), the better, ESPECIALLY in hot and dry environments like down here. Even in cooler environments though, a thick layer of mulch can be insulating against cold. I prefer to stick to a basic brown color (the red has stained soooo many gloves for me!) and also one out of native, clean materials that are sustainably sourced if possible.
With a handful of beautiful new plants, some good cleaning and pruning, a few pretty new pots, soaker hoses, and a thick layer of new mulch, I am hoping we will finally have a lush, clean, and healthy space to welcome guests. These plants were so healthy when I bought them, I want them to stay that way and grow like crazy now.
Our courtyard looks a million times better and we’re no longer embarrassed for folks to walk through here. I can’t wait until they fill in and it becomes so lush and beautiful!
Do you have any great tips you always use when planting new plants?
Thank you to MONROVIA for sponsoring today’s post and inspiring me to step it up and get our courtyard plantings in tip-top shape for the summer!