Before You Plant….

Gardening can be an investment.

Especially if you want plump vegetables, laden fruit trees, vibrant flowers and lush grass!

Photo Source: Words and Herbs

Photo Source: Words and Herbs

In order to maintain and protect your investment, here’s a checklist of what you need to know before [or oops! even after] you start planting…

Before You Plant

1. Know Your Zone

Not sure when to plant that plum tree or whether those hydrangeas will thrive in your area? 

Knowing what hardiness zone you live in will help save time and money when deciding when and what to plant.

Locate your zone on the 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to discover what zone you are in. 


2. Locate Your Lines

No point in planting a tree if you have to dig its roots out of your sewer system a couple years later!

Knowing where your electric, gas, water and sewer lines ensures your safety and will help you avoid major problems down the road.

Call 811 a few days before you dig.  A professional will be sent to your house to mark your utility lines.


RED=Electric  YELLOW=Gas  BLUE=Water  GREEN=Sewer

3. Have Your Soil Tested

You’ve watered, you’ve mulched, you’ve fertilized…but your grass is still yellow and your cucumbers are still bitter.  NOW WHAT?

Getting your soil professionally tested every 3 years in either late fall or early spring will provide you with the crucial information you need to have a successful lawn and garden.

The test will cost you anywhere from $10-$30 but without it, you might as well be gardening in the dark.  (BTW, don’t bother wasting money on a bag of fertilizer until you get your soil tested first!)

Pick up a soil envelope from your local county extension office, follow the instructions closely and mail it in. (NOTE: For an analysis on, say, your garden soil AND your lawn soil, you will need to pay for two separate soil samples since lawns and gardens have different needs.)

In a few weeks you should receive a detailed analysis of the pH and nutrient levels in your soil as well as recommendations for how to remedy any deficiencies.  


Here is a soil sample I sent in from my vegetable beds.

Here’s to smarter gardening! 

How do you like to prepare for the growing season?


10 thoughts on “Before You Plant….

  1. Good stuff Leilani, I never did have my soil tested at the lake but it was so full of clay I basically had to dig a 5 foot square hole to plant a small shrub and replace all the soil in the hole. We did the same with all the flower beds, just completed removed the heavy clay and replay it with a mixture of sterilized soil, pea gravel, manure and peat. Major indexer but we were there for 25 years, so time was on our side.

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