While you’re in the garden hurrying to finish fall garden tasks before the snow flies, take a few moments to really look at your garden beds. Late fall is an excellent time to assess this year’s garden display and think about which areas of your garden looked great and where you need to make changes next year. A little preparation and planning in the fall will allow you to get the jump on garden chores next spring.
Master Gardeners suggest making sketches of each garden bed to create a garden “map” to serve as a reminder and guide to future plantings. Without foliage to provide visual clues, it can be difficult to remember exactly what you planted and where you planted it. When you start turning over soil next spring you could easily wind up digging into and destroying a prized clump of Leucanthemum (Shasta daisy) or killing a stunning Iris display by over-mulching. When creating your garden map, don’t get bogged down trying to create scaled drawings. Just show the approximate location of each plant specimen in relation to the others and to any permanent landmarks such as mature trees, walkways or fences.
Some gardeners also find it helpful to take digital photos of their garden beds periodically throughout the year. Photographs provide not only an excellent visual record of plant species and placement, they also record color patterns and can be a valuable aid in future garden planning. Each photo should show a single garden bed or section. On a separate sheet of paper make a list of the plants in each photo, noting blooming season, mature height, light requirements and color. When foliage emerges in the spring, you’ll be prepared and ready to garden!