looking for a Gardening mentor

MikalleApril 3, 2012

hi, I am in the process of completely redoing our yard here in Woodbridge New Jersey. the backyard measures 70 feet x 40 feet. I've installed a 12' x 17' pond with Two level waterfall, in the process of creating 5 stone block raised garden beds of various sizes and this summer I will be creating gravel paths throughout the yard and around the pond.

My dilemma is that I have no idea what plants I should be putting in the raised beds or around the pond or anywhere else in the yard for that matter. No idea where to buy plants, do I go with local nurseries or the home centers? the 4 bushes purchased at Lowes last year all died. I can supply photos of the yard with dimensions if that would help, her really need help laying out what to plant, where and when.

Thanks for any suggestions,


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Hello -
I'm not an expert, but I've been working on my yard slowly in Northern New Jersey and here are some things that worked for me.

I buy plants from Home Depot mainly, with good success. I also have been buying from www.springhillnursery.com - believe it or not they ship so nicely. They also have a lot of youtube how-to videos that I like about dividing plants and things like that.

1. I took a good photo of my yard and put it on my computer, then looked up plants for my zone online and moved the pictures around on top of my yard to see what it might look like. I use Powerpoint for this.

2. I used available plants that are already in my yard. I had daffodils springing up in odd places, so I spent some time digging them up carefully and transplanted them grouped together. Free flowers!

3. Hostas seems very tolerant and easy to work with. They are hard to kill, it seems. Mine don't mind too much or too little water-they are in a funny spot and do well.

4. Rosebushes grow well for me, with no effort. I planted them and do nothing other than water them. I have them next to my fence. I bought cheap ones from Home Depot that looked like sticks you plant in the ground.

5. In my raised beds, I created a fence to keep out the animals I'm always battling. We have success with tomatoes, corn and green beans.

Just some thoughts. I'm in no position to mentor anyone, though, as I am no expert.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 1:42PM
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Good advice from Shar77, but it is very important to know the growing conditions: soil type, sunlight, etc. As they say, "Right plant, right place."

While I don't use them exclusively, I really do like working with native plants. They're well adapted to our region and co-evolved with the wildlife here, providing sustenance for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects (some of which will help control not-so-beneficial insects in your garden). Native Plant Society of NJ has an extensive list at www.npsnj.org

Please try to avoid planting invasives; many are widely available commercially. The NJ Invasive Species Strike Team has a lot of good info, including a "Do Not Buy List" at www.njisst.org

Doug Tallamy, Chair of the Dept. of Entomology at U of Delaware, has exellent info on his site at www.bringingnaturehome.net. Don't miss his wonderful piece entitled "Gardening for Life" to get an idea how important your yard and garden are.

Since you have the pond, consider registering your yard with the National Wildlife Federation as a Certified Backyard Habitat ... it's pretty easy ... www.nwf.org

Contact your local Rutgers Master Gardener organization for gardening advice, free pH testing. Also check the Rutgers Extension website www.njaes.rutgers.edu.

Finally, know that you have a great resource just a short drive down the Parkway, just 1.7 miles from Exit 114: Deep Cut Gardens, the horticultural park of the Monmouth County Park System, consists of 54 acres of formal and informal gardens as well as wooded areas, lawns, meadows, a display greenhouse, bonsai collection, vegetable garden and compost demonstration site. It is also home to the second largest horticultural library in the state (Rutgers has the largest) with over 3000 volumes plus horticultural videos, magazines and a host of plant and seed catalogs. The park is open 365 days a year from 8:00am until dusk (this time of year it closes at 7:30pm). The horticultural center is open from 10am-4pm. As it is a county park, there is no admission or parking fee. Events are scheduled throughout the year, as well as a variety of horticulture-related programs for children and adults. Check the web at www.monmouthcountyparks for more information. The park is at 152 Red Hill Rd. in Middletown, but if you're using a GPS, sometimes it comes up in the 200s.

Above all, plan your space for your enjoyment and enjoy the process.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 4:58PM
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I don't check this particular forum much and just noticed your post. I am in NJ not far from you....work in Edison. I may be able to give you some recommendations but you will certainly get more response if I/we know more about your sunlight, soil, goals etc. Of course you may have the whole thing planted by now, LOL! that Pond sounds impressive......woudl love to see photos of it!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 8:32AM
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