University of Illinois Extension
How Serious Are You? - Introduction to Perennial Garden Design - Stepping Stones to Perennial Garden Design - University of Illinois Extension

How Serious Are You?

Finally, determine how serious a gardener you are. How much time do you have to devote to a perennial garden? If a novice is overwhelmed, they are lost to gardening. If an experienced gardener underestimates, they risk becoming bored and disillusioned. Where do you fit in? Maintenance will make or break a garden. Start small and let your gardens expand as your knowledge and experience expands. Avoid the temptation to over plant a new garden so it appears full faster. An over planted garden fills in quickly but needs more maintenance sooner. A large tilled bed looks empty for the first growing season. You can always fill the bare spots with annuals that first year.

The 'low' maintenance perennial garden is highly desired but open to many interpretations. The definition of 'low' is the issue. One gardener may find one hour a day to be therapeutic and easily accomplished, while another gardener may find it too time consuming. An experienced gardener realizes that the only low maintenance work you do in a garden, is the work you do on your knees!

Again, think about your lifestyle and how much time you have to devote to a garden. If you work full time and spend the weekends driving children to one event after another, when do you have the time to devote to a large garden? Research has shown the three main reasons given for abandoning perennial gardening are too much work, using wrong plants and lack of previous success. We want to focus on the positive aspects in this series. The three main reasons for continuing perennial gardening are:

  • Personal satisfaction
  • Self esteem
  • Being the 'neighborhood' gardener