5 Weekends to a Gorgeous Garden

5 Weekends to a Gorgeous Garden

There’s no such thing as a no-maintenance landscape. But you can have one that only asks five tasks of you to look good the whole year through.

I know I’m not the only one who gets overwhelmed when I look out at my garden and see how behind I am in upkeep. To make matters worse, rather than get out there and tackle one task to completion, I get overwhelmed when I see everything I need to do and avoid it altogether. Guess I’m hoping the work will magically go away…

I’ll share a little secret with you — it won’t.

In fact, here’s another revelation: There is no such thing as a no-maintenance garden. Seriously, repeat that three times until it sinks in. There is such a thing as a low-maintenance garden, one that requires a minimum of five basic tasks to do in early spring to help your garden sail through the year and beyond.

Let’s break down those tasks into manageable chunks — in this case, five in five: Five tasks spread over five weekends.

Weekend 1: Cut back perennials.

Cut back your perennials after the last freeze date in your area. This year in San Antonio, we’ve had several freezes so most of us can’t wait to cut back. However, do wait until the last freeze date as all that frozen back foliage is protecting the plant and keeping it insulated. Cut back everything too soon and you’ll make the plant more vulnerable if there’s another freeze. Also, if we have a winter where it doesn’t freeze, remember your perennials will still benefit from early spring haircuts.

Weekend 2: Weed.

Hand-pull weeds when you see them pop up. The secret to weeding is to wait until after a rain when the ground is soft. The weeds come right out with minimal effort. I get a lot more weeding done in less time with this method.

Weekend 3: Prep bed for new plantings.

After you cut back and weed, prep the soil in the bare areas where you decided you needed evergreen interest or to fill in a sparse area with perennials. Do this by top dressing the area with a high quality compost and letting it simmer until planting time. When I’m done prepping, I mark new planting locations with a rock, irrigation flag or even a bamboo skewer.

Weekend 4: Shop SAWS Spring Bloom and plant.

It’s time to plant all the new plants you’ve been dreaming of. It takes a lot of restraint not to plant during the summer. It’s best to wait until fall, winter or early spring. When you shop at Spring Bloom, you’ll find lots of native plants and unique plants ideal for our area and soil types.

Weekend 5 – Mulch.

Mulching is the icing on the cake and makes everything look finished. More importantly, it helps your plants by keeping the roots cool and retaining water after watering events. Use an organic mulch — cedar is a good option — and keep it at least several inches away from any stems or trunks.

I hope this guide helps you (and me) avoid getting overwhelmed in the garden this year. Sometimes (most times) it’s the simple things like planning that ensure success. You know what they say, “Fail to plan and you plan to fail.”

So let’s get out there and tackle one task at a time to help your garden not just survive, but also thrive!

Ask the Garden Geek

Need Tips for your garden or have questions about conservation? Ask an Expert!

Send a question
Heather Ginsburg

About our expert

Heather Ginsburg

Heather Ginsburg is passionate about helping homeowners and San Antonio save water. She brings experience as a landscape designer and horticultural therapist to each consultation she has with homeowners in her role as a conservation consultant for SAWS. Heather is an idealist and believes every homeowner can have beautiful low water-use gardens and functional outdoor spaces to interact with nature in a positive, life-enriching way. Heather is an urban farmer who works hard to teach her children to tread lighter on the earth.