How The Worst Section of Your Yard Can Become the Best Garden - Backyard Boss
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How The Worst Section of Your Yard Can Become the Best Garden

Yard transformation is the act of embracing your yard’s flaws and using them to your advantage. Picture this: an ever-green lawn, fertile soil housing the healthiest roots, trimmed trees, and perennials seemingly always in bloom. You’d wonder what weather or soil type could foster such a garden, especially all at once. Your yard may not have all the elements most conducive to a thriving garden; maybe your soil has a chokehold over your plants, or weeds are ever-multiplying across your lawn.

Perhaps the seasons or amount of sunlight have parts of your garden lacking. When you see the worst section of your yard, it’s easy to get discouraged, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your gardening. You can transform even the worst areas of a yard into the dreamiest getaway. It’s important to know that no garden is accursed, and there’s no need to let those troubling spots wallow in their unfruitfulness. Here are some tips on how you can turn the worst section of your yard into the best garden.

How The Worst Section of Your Yard Can Become the Best Garden

1. Gardening With Clay Soil

A farmer in coveralls holds a handful of soil from a wheelbarrow
Image credits: Zoe Schaeffer via Unsplash

The first step to yard transformation is determining the quality of your soil. Clay soil is a heavy type of soil that remains wet and cold in winter and dries out in summer. If your soil is sticky or has a smearing quality when wet, it is clay. This type of soil can hold high volumes of water and takes a long time to drain. They also take longer to warm up in the summer. Soil that fails to drain properly can lead to root rot in plants which can kill them. Generally, clay can be a challenging soil for gardeners to work with. However, several flowers, shrubs, and ornamental grasses thrive in this soil.

  • Flowers: Black-eyed Susan, Blazing Star
  • Shrubs: Butterfly weed, Bee Balm
  • Ornamental grass: Big Bluestem, Canadian wild rye

Also, make sure you know how to improve the clay soil in your yard.

2. To Eradicate Weeds, Consider Mulch

wood chip mulch in garden bed
Image credits: Paul Green via Unsplash

Mulch is a layer of materials that is spread over the surface of the soil. It usually consists of tree bark, wood chips, pine straw, moss, grass clippings, or leaves. Weeds grow faster than most plants and grass, which allows them to spread rampantly. Not only do they take up soil space, but also compete (and often win) for the soil nutrients, which deprive your plants of what they need to grow.

While plucking them out may help, it is a tedious task and a temporary fix. Instead, consider mulch to take care of weeds. Applying a two to three inches thick layer of mulch around your garden after taking out weeds will prevent the weeds from reseeding. Hopefully, with the weeds problem on lock, you can finally plant to your heart’s content. If this doesn’t help you sort the weed problem to begin yard transformation, here are natural ways to kill weeds and some DIY weed killers you can make at home.

3. Planting According to Growing Seasons

salad garden
Image Credit: woodleywonderworks via Creative Commons

A growing season refers to a time in the year in which local temperature, rainfall, and daylight permit normal plant growth. Some regions have short growing seasons which last less than 120 days. Green leafy vegetables are best grown and harvested during short seasons. Also, make sure you know everything about seasonal fruits and veggies you can plant after you begin your yard transformation.

4. Working With Your Hardiness Zone

Image credits: CSA-Plastock via Canva

The USDA creates a hardiness map that divides North America into eleven zones by minimum average annual temperature. It’s important to know your hardiness zone because you can pick plants for your garden that are most likely to survive your local winter. You have to understand it when choosing perennials, shrubs, or trees. Gardeners in zone two and three with particularly icy minimum temperatures (between -50F and -40F/ -45.6C and -40C) have quite the challenge on their hands. However, they consider the following plants have a better chance of surviving the frigid conditions:

  • Lead plant – shrub with purple blooms
  • Iceland poppy – most colorful zone 2 plant with a variety of blooms including red, orange, yellow, pink, rose, and white.
  • Hosta – Zone 3 hardy plant, a favorite for butterflies

5. Use Rotten Manure Instead

Wheelbarrow full of manure
Image credits: Efraimstochter via Pixabay

It may seem a little peculiar to let manure rot further, but in fact, fresh manure is way too high in nitrogen which can burn your plants. Symptoms of manure burn in plants include yellowing, browning, and withering. In lawns, you may see brown, yellow, or white streaks that follow the pattern in which you applied the manure. To avoid this, apply rotten manure that has matured for a minimum of six months to your soil. If you have accidentally over-fertilized your lawn, here’s a useful article that talks about how to fix an over-fertilized lawn.

6. Use Deadheading on Perennials and Annuals

Deadheading and Clipping Back Spent Dahlia Flowers
Image credits: akchamczuk via Canva

Are your perennials or annuals looking a little drab? Maybe it’s time to remove those fading flowers because deadheading is a major key to a longer season of vibrant blooms. Deadheading is simply removing the spent flowers from perennial and annual plants, specifically when the plant has finished flowering and begins forming seeds. By deadheading the energy and nutrients that would’ve been used to generate seeds, go into producing more flowers, giving you a second round or a plentiful show of vibrant blossoms. Also, be aware of what you shouldn’t do when deadheading flowers.

7. Growing Plants in Badly Lit Areas

Thriving garden
Image credits: AndreasGoellner via Pixabay

Plants that grow in badly lit areas end up yellowing with droopy leaves and have stunted leaf growth. For the dim part of your yard, consider shade-loving plants that won’t fuss over the lack of sunlight. Here are some plants you may want to consider:

  • Coral Bells – a plant with brightly colored leaves
  • Impatiens – low-light loving blossoms
  • Lettuce – low-light loving veggie

8. Mound Your Potatoes Better

vegetable garden with mounded potato plants
Image credits: treasure via Canva

Improperly mounding results in green potatoes, which are super toxic. They contain high levels of solanine, which can cause nausea, headaches, and neurological problems. To prevent cultivating poisonous potatoes, you need to mound your potatoes deeper into the soil because exposure to sunlight is what turns them green.

9. Make Use of All Those Fallen Leaves

Fall Leaves on Ground
Image Credits: FotoXCapture via Pixabay

Sometimes the best compost ingredient is around you, falling from your trees. Gather your fall leaves and incorporate them into your compost. They can nourish your lawn, and you can use them as mulch on perennials when they have gone dormant during winter to keep their soil moist.

10. Learn to Work With Horrible Plant Drainage

planting plants
Image Credit: USDAgov via Creative Commons

So your soil either drains easily, causing your plant’s roots to miss out on a lot of water or it barely drains, resulting in waterlogged roots. For high drainage soils that tend to be dry consider:

  • Foxtail lily – tall ornamental grass with elegant flowery spikes
  • Stachys – Flowering plant with great moisture retention
  • Cardoons – silvery foliage that thrives in dry and wintery conditions

For low drainage soils, consider:

  • Black chokeberry – shrub with white blooms that mature into black berries that birds love
  • Inkberry Bush – popular in swamp areas and is evergreen
  • Leopard plant – great in rain gardens, bear bright yellow flowers

11. Choose Plants for Long Days or Nights

large white flowers with pink centers, daphne shrub
Image credits: Buntysmom via Pixabay

The lengths of daytime and nighttime vary across the world and seasons. Grow plants that can flourish under excessive day or moonlight. Regions with longer nights should consider short-day plants that only form flowers when the day’s length is less than 12 hours. Short-day plants include Christmas cacti, chrysanthemums, onions, poinsettia, and violet.

12. Plant for Your Local Pollinators

Image by Anja-#pray for ukraine# #helping hands# stop the war from Pixabay

If exotic plants aren’t doing so well in your garden, it’s probably time to consider going local when it comes to yard transformation. Planting native species comes with many benefits. For one, these plants are more adapted to growing in your area, and you are preserving the intrigue of your local flora. Most importantly, the pollinators that evolved alongside the native species can be supported. Just make sure you know what plants attract bees to your yard and how to start a pollinator garden.

13. Rethink Rocks and Pavers

Stone path
Image credits: alienwormzond via Canva

Paving your yard is a great way to cover ground in the long term. However, it’s important to be mindful of plants as you pave. Paving over the root system of a tree or plant can restrict its ability to exchange gases with the atmosphere, which can take a toll on the plant’s root health. It also prevents rainfall from being absorbed into the soil and reaching the roots, so proper planning should be put in place to ensure your plants continue thriving. When paving around plants, maintain the existing soil level at the trunk and start paving or edging at least four inches away from the base of the tree. If you’d like some inspiration, here are some DIY garden path ideas to help you get started!

14. Enliven Bare Trees

Decorative trees
Image credits: LanceB via Canva

Trees, no matter how commonplace they seem, are a wonder, but a little creativity can bring their wonder to life. Customize your tree by decorating it with an assortment of ornaments. You can give your tree some character by giving it a face or transform it into a botanical lighthouse by adding on some lights. This can give your tree a visual boost, especially in the winter when its ornate foliage falls.

15. Screen the Gaps

bamboo fence
Image credits: Wonderlane via Creative Commons

Yard transformation is incomplete without some privacy. Turn those awkward gaps in your yard into purposeful space for privacy screens. Privacy screens are highly customizable, which will allow them to fit in well with the garden’s theme or stand out as a statement piece of sorts.

In Summary

Living on such a biodiverse planet will mean that no two plots will be the same. Everything from the soil profile, sunlight, and growing season will reap a different-looking garden. So instead of comparing apples to oranges, take a look at what you’ve got and cultivate its potential. Yard transformation is possible. You only need to take the step forward in the right direction!

Happy Gardening!