November 18, 2012

Tom Atwell: All's fair in love and landscaping

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She said if you are going to want hardscaping such as a patio, decide where that is going first. You don’t want to put plants in, decide you want a patio, and then have to move the plants.

Finally after all of this, you get to choose your plants and – once you have arranged to get them to your house – start planting. And, if you are doing it yourself, you should do it in phases – to spread out both the cost and the labor.

“Put in the large stuff first,” she said. “They are harder, and you don’t want to be tripping over all of the smaller shrubs while you get the big trees in place.”

When you get your plants, put them around your yard before you plant them. After looking at them for a while, you might want to move them a bit and it’s easier to do if they’re still in the pots. After that, you can start planting.

Ratigan had some interesting things to say about landscape fabric, which some people put around their plants to prevent weeds.

“It does keep weeds down, but it is not perfect,” she said. “At some point you are going to have to weed. And if you are going to move your plants around, it’s not so good. It makes moving plants a lot more difficult.”

You are going to want to amend your soil with compost, and there are a wide variety of options – from biosolids to organic products that include seashells. They all work.

And then there is a decision of mulch. Ratigan prefers compost as a mulch, but says there advantages to both mulch and compost. Mostly, she said, it is about the look you like best.

Tom Atwell has been writing the Maine Gardener column since 2004. He is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth and can be contacted at 767-2297 or at:

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