Joseph De Sciose
Level the playing field.
Pick an area that can be completed in one day. Our space was 20 x 90 feet. Remove sod, roots, rocks, or other debris, and amend soil with compost. Smooth area with a stiff metal rake so that soil is slightly higher in the center. Do this prior to planting day, if possible.
Develop your game plan.
On graph paper, sketch the area to scale, and draw circles to represent the mature sizes of plants to be added. Consult The Southern Living Garden Book for plant ideas and mature sizes. Your sketch will serve as your shopping list. Nurseries start receiving plants for the weekend on Thursday, so shop early for best selections. When adding them to your yard, the biggest plants go in first, annuals last. Mulch and water well.
Don't forget spring training.
Fall is the time to purchase and install bulbs for spring. We bought our tulips and snapdragons at the same time. Once home, we planted the snapdragons and put the paper bag of tulip bulbs in the refrigerator for eight weeks. (There is no need to chill daffodils, which grow in the Upper, Middle, Lower, and upper third of the Coastal South.) On planting day, the bulbs were spaced 8 inches apart between the existing snapdragons. Come April, our garden was filled with buttery yellow blooms.
Here's what we used in our garden.*
This article is from the September 2005 issue of Southern Living.