Thinking about planting a garden but feeling nervous about the work involved? Don’t worry. There are many ways to plant a garden that will only require some maintenance and is easy enough for kids to help care for. You can start small with one area of your yard and slowly add more each year or just tackle it all at once in one big family project. Either way, you can definitely handle this with the right planning and knowledge. Here’s what you need to know about planting low-maintenance gardens in Westmont, Illinois.
Image via Flickr by woodleywonderworks
There are a few things you need to know and plan before starting a garden. First, get together with the family or whoever wants to be involved and decide what kind of garden to go for. Do you want to focus more on colorful landscaping, growing different types of food, or attracting interesting critters like hummingbirds and butterflies? Also, where do you want your garden? Are you building a raised garden bed, or are you spreading out across the entire yard? Kids can draw or map out a garden plan as a fun activity while you plan.
Once you have a goal in mind, you’ll need to understand your hardiness zone. Westmont is in the 5b hardiness zone, which means that you’ll want to stick to plants that are rated for that zone. If you try to grow things that aren’t meant for your zone, you’ll be likely to run into a lot of issues and frustrations. Let’s discuss the easiest plants to work with that are rated for zone 5b.
Ground Cover Plants
Spruce up your yard or give shape to your garden using ground cover plants. These types of plants are typically easy to take care of and spread quickly. Choose a few that do well in shade, like hostas, wintercreeper, or juniper, and plant them around the bottom of any trees you have or along the edges of your house. Full-sun ground cover plants are great for keeping weeds under control around fences and mailboxes. Consider planting lavender in these areas. It does well in the sun, produces pretty purple flowers, and smells great.
Add some highlights throughout the yard that are sure to catch neighbors’ eyes by planting colorful flowers. For a wide range of colors, consider tulips and foxglove. Both produce blooms in purple, red, pink, and yellow. Lilies also offer a variety of colors with the most common species blooming in white and orange. Hollyhock comes in very bright pink, and hyacinth comes in pink, purple, and white. Consider planting some bright purple delphinium along fences or walls, as its shoots can grow up to 5 feet tall. Colorful plants are great for attracting bees, butterflies, and birds.
If you want to be able to enjoy meals from your garden, plant some vegetables. Many vegetables are quite easy to grow and produce crops large enough for a family to enjoy — you just need to know when to plant and harvest. Plant warm-weather vegetables like cucumber, squash, tomatoes, and peppers in early June, and they’ll be ready to start harvesting in just a couple of months. Cold weather crops can be planted twice, once in early April and again in September for a double harvest. Such vegetables include beets, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, and radishes.
Keep in mind that vegetable gardens are often plagued by pests. Hungry wildlife like deer, bunnies, and others are likely to enjoy snacking on your garden if it’s not well protected. There are many ways to ward off such animals including simple fencing, using raised beds, natural sprays, and even bars of body soap. If you notice your plants are being nibbled on, don’t panic. Just try a few of these tricks and others and see what works.
Fruit trees won’t produce the immediate and exciting results that other garden plants offer, but they can be a really neat way for a family to invest in their yard. If you start a fruit tree from seed, it could take five to ten years to actually grow edible fruit. Starting from a transplanted tree can offer faster fruit production. If you buy a young tree to plant in your garden, it’ll likely be about two years old when you get it, meaning you’ll probably wait three to seven years for fruit.
Certain trees produce fruit much quicker than others. Peach trees are fast-producing trees that are rated for zone 5b. Other fruit trees that do well in this area include apple, pear, and plum trees. If you plan to be in your current home for the long term, consider planting some fruit trees to enjoy later on. You could even let each kid plant a tree and care for it year after year until they are older and can literally enjoy the fruits of their labor. What a great lesson in patience!
Caring for Your Garden
If you have a family with older children, don’t let them leave all the gardening work to you. Get everyone involved from start to finish. Ask the kids what they want to grow and explain how they can ensure healthy growth by taking care of the plants. If you have an aspiring young chef, encourage them to come up with some recipes they can make with certain vegetables, herbs, or fruits, and then have them plant and care for their ingredients.
Help kids learn to create and keep up with a schedule while helping to care for the garden. Consider working together to make a chart for planting, watering, fertilizing, and harvesting. You can plan out the entire growing season on a big board and create gardening chores for everyone to complete.
Crème de la Crème of Westmont, Illinois, loves to hear about families trying new things and learning together. Be sure to let us know if you started your own low-maintenance garden this year and how it’s going. Are there any plants or tips that we forgot to mention? If so, drop us a note and maybe we’ll need to update our list.