Learn about the basics of Making a New Garden Bed with Master Gardener Tim Kennelty, based in Columbia County is an avid gardener, naturalist forest owner, and co-founder of the podcast, Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley . Tim delivers numerous presentations on multiple gardening topics and is known for his love of native plants.
Tim suggests that you start with assessing what you want to plant (vegetables, annuals or perennials) and the amount of time, energy, and money you’re willing to invest with a new garden bed.
Checking out your neighbors’ gardens, or visiting public gardens, at different times of the year, can give you lots of ideas as to what you want to plant and the look you’re trying to achieve. If you are starting with a perennial garden, just realize that it may take up to 3 years for it to look ‘mature’. Remember the adage that in the first season the plants ‘sleep’, the second they start to ‘creep’ and the third year they ‘leap’. The garden will look good during this time period but make not look like a garden that has been established for several years.
Keeping it simple is the best bet for a new gardener to avoid becoming overwhelmed. The key is to ensure that you pick a spot that has the appropriate sunlight, soil, and access to water to ensure success. Start small until you better understand the basics of the plants you want to use and the growing conditions on your property.
Tim suggests that you test the soil to understand what kind of plants would thrive best in your soil. He also discusses different ways to prepare the soil, with methods that require a varying degree of time, energy and materials. Once the bed is prepared, Tim also talks about the merits of buying plants, or growing them from seed, as well as the need to think about the protecting your garden from any pets and/or wild critters that visit your yard.
Planting either host or nectar plants for pollinators is clearly an option, as is planting ones that are deer or woodchuck resistant (unless you are willing to invest in a fence). Design elements like color, size and texture are also important considerations when selecting plants.
Plant calculators might be helpful to figure out how many plants to buy to fill the area you’ve prepared. Tim offers tips on watching the weather to determine when to plant your garden bed. Wait until the soil warms up (trees/shrubs in late April, perennials in early May, and annuals in late May) before putting new plants into the ground. And, importantly, don’t forget about maintenance of the garden beds which includes watering, weeding, and potentially mulching staking, and deadheading spent flowers.
The off season is a great time to assess what worked, get new ideas, and plan for the following season. Until then, learn all about the basics of starting a new garden bed on this episode of Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley.
Host: Jean Thomas
Guest: Tim Kennelty
Photo by: Tim Kennelty
Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Teresa Golden and Annie Scibienski
Last updated August 31, 2023