Evaluating Garden Health

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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?
Trellis with wisteria | Spotts Garden Service

Adding trellises or other built structure can change the character of the garden.

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?
Maxing out plants | Spotts Garden Service

Maximizing plants in the garden reduces the need for mulch and increases the shelter for wildlife.

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?
Milkweed | Spotts Garden Service

Planting natives in the garden benefits insects and other wildlife. Natives are also better adapted to our environment.

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.

Amy graduated from DePauw University with a degree in physics, a lifelong love of theatre, and a problem-solving style that combines the approaches from both those fields. A Master Gardener and long-time communications professional, Amy conducts gardening seminars and blogs about gardening in addition to her work with Spotts.

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