Moving is always an exciting event, but when you move to a new garden a whole new dimension is added. Perhaps you are moving to your first garden, or you might be moving from a garden into which you have several years of work, building up the soil, nurturing established trees and bedding plants, and generally putting yourself into the land. A new garden might have established plants or it might be an area where you must start almost from the very beginning. There are some specific steps that, as a gardener, you will want to take at your new establishment.
ID What is Already There
Identifying soil types, assessing water resources, and identifying plants, especially trees, is likely to be your first step at your new garden home. Even if you have simply moved across town, there can be important differences that will affect your gardening style. For example, your old home might have been near a waterway, or it might have had sandy soil. But your new home garden space is farther from natural water sources and has hard packed clay. That change will certainly set the tone for soil amendments.
Name those trees! If you have a rare, old tree in your home yard area such as a boab or a Joshua tree, one of your first acts as a new homeowner might be to learn about the best ways to take care of it. Both boab (baobab) and Joshua trees are on the endangered plant list. If you should be fortunate enough to purchase land that has one of these treasures on it, you will certainly want to do your best to preserve it. Glauca grass trees might be another type of tree that you would want to identify early and keep an eye on. Fruit trees, such as Native Australian Finger Limes, Tahitian limes, mangos, or olives can all be a valuable future asset in your garden. In some cases, if a tree is too close to a building or is in an area where you want to place a building or clear space for vegetables or flowers, you might be able to transplant the tree rather than cutting it down.
Know Your Weeds. Weeds can tell you a lot about the soil they are growing on, including its probable fertility. Identifying “good” weeds and “bad” weeds early on might save you a lot of time, energy, and frustration. Besides, some herbs and bedding plants bear a strong resemblance to “weeds” since, if you get right down to it, a weed is simply a plant that is growing in a place where you do not want it. With that said, if you discover that the weedy patch in the lower northeast corner is actually a butterfly garden, you will know that those scruffy plants are really herbs planted there to attract the lovely, winged creatures.
Decide What to Keep
Once you have everything identified, you can begin the process of deciding what to keep. For example, you might decide that the butterfly garden was a keeper, but that large patch of kale definitely needs to go. You can also discover why a portion of the property was deliberately given over to monocots such as glauca grass trees and golden barrel cactus, while another area is dominated by a row of Queensland Bottle Trees. As you look at this, you might ask yourself what this tells you about your growing options. You might be slow to remove plants unless you have identified an invasive plant that you do not want to keep.
Consider What Might go with Established Plants
Once you have tested the soil, observed the way the sun’s rays enter your garden, and have identified and evaluated the plants that are already growing there, then you are ready to think about any new plants you might want to add. Perhaps the row of agaves might go well with the glauca grass tree and the cactus, or maybe you would like to extend the line of Queensland Bottle Trees to stretch the full length of your drive. Perhaps the despised bed of kale could be dedicated to other vegetables, or maybe it just needs a cover crop and sheet compost so it can lie fallow for a year. A new garden is not usually a blank slate, but it is an opportunity to add something special, such as perhaps a dragon tree to go with the other feature trees.
Discover Upkeep and Maintenance
No two gardens are exactly alike so upkeep and maintenance can vary from plant to plant. But some things will remain constant. If there is lawn, it will need to be mowed. If there is a sand and rock garden area, it will need raked and unwanted vegetation removed. Trees will need deadwood pruned, if nothing else, fruits will need picked.
One thing you might not have thought about is beneficial insects. Some of the Australian native plants have specialized pollinator preferences, and previous tenants might have released preying mantises in your garden to help control other bugs. Before spraying or putting out a bug zapper, it is a good idea to identify the insects that are in your garden and research each one before using any kind of insect control.
Mulch, Fertilize, and Water as Needed
Creating a compost heap in an out-of-the-way area of your garden can help provide mulch. Properly placed mulch can provide added nutrients to the soil and assist with conserving moisture. But this is one of the places where your research will pay off, because you will want to apply the correct kind of compost for each plant, since not all plants like the same sort of soil amendments.
Water is another necessary part of gardening, but not all plants require watering. Some sorts of plants prefer to have dry feet most of the time, while others might need extra. Knowing the water needs of your specific plants and trees will help prevent over or under watering.
Enjoying Your Garden
Getting to know your new garden can be a challenge, but it will also be a delight as you discover its hidden treasures season by season.