We’re big believers that the garden should reflect both the spirit of the place and the personality of the people who live and play in it. We’ve found the best way to keep our gardens moving in that direction is the garden evaluation.
While we’ve always kept an eye on the health of our gardens, in 2017 we’re putting in place a twice-yearly formal evaluation. In early spring and again in late summer, a senior-level gardener evaluates each garden’s health, makes notes about what the crew should focus on in upcoming visits, provides design and plant suggestions, and records any potential issues.
Here’s a partial list of what we look for during a garden evaluation.
Does the garden meet the needs of the homeowner?
- Are all the areas accessible? Do we need to add paths?
- Is there a logical space for practical needs, like trash cans or a compost heap?
- Are all of the built structures in good shape? Does anything need repair?
- Should we add a built structure, like a pergola or a trellis?
- Does the level of maintenance meet the needs of the homeowner? Do we need to scale down?
Is the soil healthy?
- Are there any boggy or dry spots?
- Is mulch running off anywhere? Are the beds too high?
- Does the soil need additional organic matter?
How are the plants doing?
- Is there any damage to trees or shrubs? Do we need to prune anything?
- Do we see any signs of insect or disease in the trees, shrubs, and perennials?
- Do we need to thin out perennials? Are there bare spots that could benefit from more plants?
Is the garden functioning as an eco-friendly space?
- Are there signs of bees, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife?
- How can we encourage more?
- Is the garden diverse, with overlapping bloom times?
- Does the garden contain at least some native plants? What percentage?
With these notes in hand, we’re in good shape to make design and plant suggestions, identify and treat health problems early, and create a custom maintenance plant for each garden.