As the County Council representative for District 5, my area consists of many subdivisions within the city limits of St. Charles and St. Peters. Spring is making a slow entrance this year; however, the neighborhoods in my district and throughout the county will soon be in bloom with natural flora and man-made gardens and landscaping. If you want to develop a “green thumb,” this season is a fantastic opportunity to take up planting and help make our already gorgeous county even more beautiful.
I take great pride in planting flowers in our yard year after year. It doesn’t matter if you start off with a small container, wrap a border of flowers around your trees or plant a vegetable garden. It’s fun to get outside to see what you can accomplish! I also recommend visiting our County Parks for inspiration; many feature rain and wildflower gardens and have great ideas for landscaping. You can even gain knowledge and practice with planting, mulching, and more as a horticultural volunteer with County Parks – they have a variety of opportunities and even provide gardening tips!
You can spend very little time and money on planting or a lot, depending on individual taste. Here are some steps from Gail Schatzler, Horticultural Supervisor for the County Parks Department, to get started:
- First, consider the purpose. Do you want to plant for privacy, home enhancement, or to lure in butterflies or birds? Bushes and tall grasses are helpful with privacy and certain plants entice wildlife. There are even grasses and flowers that repel mosquitoes and deer!
- Next, you’ll want to consider the quality of soil, the amount of sunlight received, and foot traffic from kids or pets in the area. If the soil is poor, you may need to purchase nutrient-rich topsoil to supplement; however, this is not a concern with native plants. Additionally, there are plants that thrive in little sunlight if that is an issue, and there are hearty plants that can withstand lots of outdoor activity.
- Finally, you’ll want to determine the best plants to purchase for your needs and wants. There are so many options! If you love flowers, you can pick ones that bloom all summer, bloom at night, and/or crawl up trellis fixtures. Words of warning, though: Be careful of selecting invasive plants like honeysuckle and ivy as these “sleep, creep and then LEAP” by spreading throughout a yard and are very difficult to remove due to a hearty root system.
Additionally, keep in mind the differences between annuals and perennials. Annuals need to be replanted every year, while perennials naturally return when the weather is warm.
I would love to hear about your planting and gardening experiences, and to see before and after pictures! Contact me via email. Here’s to a successful 2018 planting season!