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How to Plant a Last-Minute Garden

Want a backyard you're proud of? Here’s all the dirt you need.

Follow these gardening tips on how to choose blooms late in the game, and no one but your nosy neighbor will ever know the difference.


  • Trowel (for shaping, digging, and working with potted plants)
  • Transplant Spade (to cut through and turn soil)
  • Digging Fork (to mix in compost, turn over soil to prepare for a new garden bed, and plant shrubs)
  • Hand Pruner (to trim shrubs, perennials, veggies, and smaller tree branches)


1. Check out some native plant nurseries where you live. Inquire about varieties that are perfectly suited to your region (like cacti in Arizona or trilliums in New England), which will flourish in your climate. Bonus: Indigenous plants will attract other natives, such as birds and butterflies, to your garden.

2. Look for healthy foliage with no roots poking out to indicate that the plant has outgrown its pot. Also, the plant shouldn’t be bone-dry. It’s often better to get a plant in bud rather than in bloom so it will blossom in your garden.

3. Prepare garden beds by getting rid of anything in the way like rocks, weeds, or tree roots. Lay down two inches of organic matter like compost and till the dirt about six inches. Organic mulches like shredded pine bark, shredded cypress, and cotton boll will help keep weeds at bay.

4. Design your garden so that one area is the highlight. Use objects like a birdbath, large urns, or flowerpots, or boldly mix the colors and textures of your plants. Make this area the most colorful part of the garden.

5. Stagge plants next to each other by height to give a garden depth and dimension. Another way to trick the eye is to layer plants by placing the tall ones in the back and shorter ones in the front.

6. Water and fertilize the soil. How often you have to depends on the plant species. New growth usually requires more care up front, but a good rule of thumb to follow is that the soil should be moist about eight inches down.

Plants for Late Bloomers

What Is It: It's a great way to add texture to a garden and fill in space with something less pricey than a flower. Use groundcover to transition one part of the gardent ot he next and for borders, filler, and accents for other flashier plants and blooms.

What Is It: Delicate fleeting blooms are the colorful crowning glory of a garden. Try to plant them so there's always something in bloom by picking a range of plants that thrive both early and latein the season.

What Is It: These flowering bushes add weight to the garden and change with the seasons. And this is waht makes planting them tricky: staying in ground year-round means they have strict soil requirements.

What Is It: Unliking flowering shurbs, the evergreen varieties grow well in most climates. Use them for constant green in the garden, but keep in mind the size, texture, and shape (some are conical, others shoot up like columns) before making a buy.

Nestpert Carmen De Vito, Principal of GroundWorksGardens

>> Get more DIY gardening tips from the experts at The Nest

-- Alonna Friedman

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