Basil is a warm-weather herb that does best when planted after soil has warmed and there’s no chance of late frost. Following lunar planting schedules, the best time to tuck plants like basil into soil is during the new moon phase.
Save time – and your back – by placing bulbs, tip end up, on top of the planting bed, then covering with a layer of several inches of soil, instead of digging individual holes for bulbs. Don’t worry if the bulbs tip over; they will work themselves upright.
Gardeners in hardiness zones 9 and warmer can plant freesias in the fall. In other zones, freesias should go into the ground in spring; they’ll need to be dug and stored at the end of the growing season so they don’t perish in the cold. If you don't want to dig them back up, simply start over next year with fresh bulbs (technically, they’re corms). Freesias are usually inexpensive. Plant the corms 2” deep in soil that drains easily, and give them a spot that gets sun to light shade.
You can plant shrubs and trees right up until the ground freezes, but you’ll have better overwintering in coldest zones if you get plants in before hard frosts arrive. This gives plants an opportunity to strike new roots into soil before serious cold arrives. Remember to water fall planted additions to your landscape until the ground freezes. In regions with mild winters where the ground doesn’t freeze, plan to water new plants through winter during dry spells.
Arranging plants tightly not only creates a full design, it also helps to shade soil. Plants that grow shoulder to shoulder act like living mulch, helping to suppress weeds and slow water evaporation from soil.
A beautiful lawn makes planting beds sparkle. This bed features a blend of shrubs, perennials and annuals, including Sweet Caroline Bewitched Green with Envy sweet potato vine and Hippo Red and Hippo Rose hypoestes. The planting also includes several ornamental grasses: ‘Fireworks’ variegated fountain grass, ‘Sky Rocket’ purple fountain grass, and Vertigo elephant grass.
To enjoy gladiolus flowers for a longer growing season, practice staggered planting. Tuck individual corms into soil every 5 to 10 days. Be sure to leave space in your planting beds to accommodate subsequent plantings. The result will be non-stop glads all season long.
Arrange perennials in a new garden prior to planting. If possible, keep pots like this for several days. This allows you to observe the design from several angles and adjust plant position as needed. Just be sure to water pots while they’re in the bed.
When winter finally eases its grip on the earth, it’s tempting to run out and work in the garden. But you have to be careful. Working the soil too early, while it’s still soggy from winter rains, can leave big clumps of dirt that are almost impossible to break apart later. Planting too soon can also waste money, because many seeds and plants will perish if the ground is too cold.
Mulch is the No. 1 secret to low maintenance gardening. Apply it in a layer 2 to 3 inches thick, and it will help suppress weeds (less weeding for you) and reduce water evaporation from soil (less watering for you). Maintain mulch by applying a fresh layer as needed to maintain that ideal depth. In warm regions, you may need to apply mulch twice a year. In zones with cold winters, an annual mulch should be sufficient.
Prior to planting, keep perennials well watered and in the proper amount of sunlight. When planting a perennial garden, don’t hesitate to start with perennials in 4-inch pots. This smaller plant size is cheaper, and plants reach full size in just two years or two growing seasons.