Landscaping your new home

Lisha Utt
Frederick County Master Gardener Program

Whether some basic shrubbery or a tree or two were included with your house, or you're starting from scratch, below are some tips to help you get started with your landscaping, a welcome respite from unpacking boxes.

1. If shrubbery or a tree has already been planted, learn its name, preferably the Latin name if possible. Then become familiar with the care requirements. The Frederick County library has an excel-lent gardening section or do some research on the Inter-net.

2. As you consider adding additional planting to your landscape, take your time. Get the feel of your new yard think about where you might like to put a privacy screen, a shade tree, a perennial flower bed or a vegetable garden.

If you think you will add a deck or patio, you should have that installed first before doing a major landscape planting in the same area. You might even find you like your new yard just like it is.

3. As you get the feel for your property, notice which parts of your yard have sun most of the day, which have shade. Make a note of where the morning sun shines and where the afternoon sun (the hottest of the day) falls.

When it rains, see how the water collects and drains off your property. Some trees or shrubs can tolerate "wet feet," and many cannot. All this information will be very important when selecting any new plants to add to your landscape.

4. While you're living in your new house and getting the feel for your yard, you can use containers to provide instantaneous color. Containers can soften the hardscape on your property like the driveway or walkway and add interest and color to your front porch.

Since it may be late in the summer when you are starting containers, put a hanging basket in a pot to achieve an instantly full look. Hanging baskets may cost a little more, but they will make containers look like they've been growing there all summer.

5. When you're ready to add new plantings, you can come up with your own design or consult a landscape architect. Either way, be sure to keep in mind the mature size of the plants you select. You'll save yourself money and the extra work of pulling out overcrowded shrubs and trees.

Fall is usually a good time to plant because plants don't dry out so quickly.

6. And, finally, before you plant anything, it's always helpful to get a soil test. Maryland Cooperative Extension offers a soil test that is easy to do. Call 800-342-2507 for more information.

Much of the soil in this area, especially in new developments, needs amendments such as compost before plants will thrive. Also take into consideration any homeowners association regulations, such as how close to property lines you can plant.

Enjoy your new yard. It's an exciting time moving into a new home, full of great possibilities inside and out.

Happy gardening!

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