For the first time in 32 years, yours truly has created a garden :) From scratch, even. I alluded to this awesomeness when I was out on paternity leave last month, but I wanted to dig in a bit deeper (no pun intended) and talk about what it all entailed. Both in time AND finances.
But first, I should say I SUCK(ed) at gardening. Like, I can barely keep a cactus alive. We’ve tried our hands at potted plants and other things that just require water on a semi-daily basis, but up until now I guess I just didn’t care enough to ever follow through and keep up my with precious greens. It’s all changed now, however! And I think I can attribute this to three reasons:
- I want our house to be worth more. Every HGTV show I watch is always championing first impressions and good curb appeal. And if/when we ever go to sell or rent out the house, I want to make sure prospective buyers don’t get grossed out the second they walk up.
- I’m better at taking care of things now that we have a baby I’m responsible for! I know plants aren’t anywhere close to living human beings, but you still have to “feed” and maintain them on a regular basis too. So now that I’m getting that down to a science with Baby $, watering plants is just another task to slip into our new rhythm we’ve got going on now.
- And lastly (but more importantly!), I had a pro to teach me how to do it – My mom :) After all my complaining that “I don’t know how” and “I don’t have the time,” my mom finally took me by my ears and forced me to learn while she was up visiting for the week helping us take care of said baby. And by the end of it we had ourselves a brand new garden! Weeee!
So I didn’t do it ALL the way by myself, but I swear I could do it from scratch now that I know what I’m doing and physically went through the whole process ;) I think that’s the key to a LOT of stuff in life actually – you need a good teacher or mentor to help you walk through things and squash your fears and insecurities! It was the same thing when I was taking forever to start up my LLC too – I was way too freaked out to even try until a good law friend of mine sat me down and agreed to help.
And it’s also helpful for that person/mentor to ask you all kinds of questions and preferences so they know how best to help you achieve your goals too. For gardening, it went something like this:
- What kind of “look and feel” do you want? Tropical? Foresty? Lush? Flowery?
- What kind of time commitment do you have to maintain it all? Do you just want to water and walk away? Do you want to sculpt? Do you want something real fancy?
- How much money are you looking to spend? $100? $1,000?
- What are the obstacles in our way? Sunlight? Shade? Perennials vs. Annuals? (It took me FOREVER to finally realize what either of those terms meant, haha… but basically perennials live season after season, and annuals only go through 1 season and that’s that. Which is def. not something I was interested in as I just wanted to “set it and forget it” as much as I could)
At first it was pretty overwhelming because there’s about a billion and a half ways to make a freakin’ garden, but as we went over everything and started seeing this stuff play out in practice (like when we went to Home Depot to see what all the plants looked like), it got a bit less scarier and scarier as time went on. And eventually my motivation got kicked into high gear and I finally just wanted to GET IT DONE. No more thinking and wondering and figuring out the *best* or *cheapest* way to get this guy looking good – I just wanted to make it happen once and for all.
So we did! And these were the steps we took:
- We hit up our local shops and nurseries to get a good idea of what’s out there and what my tastes were (which was GREAT since I’m much more of a visual hands-on learner than I am mental!)
- We went back home and figured out WHERE, exactly, this new garden was going to be planted, and how much room we’d need to fill up.
- We started de-weeding this area and cleaned it up enough so it was ready to be tackled once we had all the plants and soil (and mulch) ready. (That was another helpful thing by having a helper around – I didn’t have the first clue what plants actually needed outside of water? I thought you could just dig a hole and put it in there no questions asked, haha…)
- We made a rough list of how many plants we needed, and what kind of sizes so we could mentally layout the new plan.
- And then we went back to our favorite nursery and started shopping!
And I should cut in for a second here and add that it’s MUCH harder to go looking for plants and figuring out how many you can get/etc when you don’t have a clear budget in mind ;)
A fairly obvious thing, especially for all of us who are so used to dealing with money every day, but since this was my first foray into gardening and I didn’t have an inkling how much it all costs or even WHAT my own limits were, it probably doubled the amount of time we spent at the place until I was finally comfortable with our decisions. And it didn’t help that the wife only wanted to spend around $100 and the garden was at the lower end of her priorities considering we had just taken in a 3-day-old baby, haha… but when opportunities arise you have to jump! :)
We ended up settling on around $250 – a number I thought was more than fair to get our lawn looking as good as everyone else’s in the neighborhood. And a far cry from the “land of rocks” the previous owners had settled on too – I can’t believe we were OK with that for so long? Bleh!
Anyways, back to our steps here:
- After picking up all the plants and soil and what have you from the nursery (it ended up being the cheapest place of all, AND had the most to chose from!), we brought it all back and started digging the holes to make sure we had the pattern down and enough plants to fill ’em. (We didn’t).
- We then started planting all the plants, along with new juicy soil (I guess you have to use part pot soil and ground dirt and new soil to get a good mix going there for healthy transferness), and filled ’em all up with some good water too to make sure everyone was happy.
- Once they were all planted, we then covered the whole area with mulch – the best and most fun part! Haha… probably because it was the easiest and also LAST step in the process ;)
- We then made one last trip to the nursery to pick up a few more plants and bags of mulch we had unaccounted for, and the rest was history! We added in the last trip worth and it was a done deal :)
About 8 hours in total from start to finish (mostly because of all the driving back and forth), and overall a pretty easy project when everything was said and done. Definitely much different than I had previously thought in my head.
The total costs? $219ish. But my mother did chip in $50 or $60 to help with the two larger bushes, as well as another mini Christmas tree one we snagged for the back deck :) She wanted to give them to us as a gift, and we ended up sprucing up part of the back of the house too while we were at it. But not too shabby for a brand new garden under $300, right? I was surprised! And now we get to enjoy it for years to come! Or for someone else to if we end up moving sooner, haha.. either way though, mission completed. And now I can add some new skills to my repertoire!
What do y’all think? Money well spent? Any gardeners wanna share some tips with us?
PS: I’d tell you what types of plants we got there, but sadly I can’t remember anymore :( I know they were pretty common ones though! And cheap! Like $5.99 to $29.99 for the bigger bushier ones. Anything larger than that started getting up to the $50s and $80s for EACH. Figured why not just grow them big over time and save? ;)