Landscape Planning | Part 4: Establishing a Garden

by Rama Nayeri

in Landscape Design

new garden with small plants and mulch surrounding a flagstone patio

The establishment period of your garden is an important part of landscape planning. It’s the time where you get to watch it grow and flourish.

It is during this first year that your garden will be mulched, watered and grow into the beautiful design that was envisioned. The first step of the establishing a garden is mulching.

Typically a 2-4” layer of mulch should be installed in all of the shrub areas. Mulch helps retain soil moisture while inhibiting weed growth. The specific type of mulch that you use depends on the style and look that you are looking to achieve. Your landscape contractor should have mulching (materials + labor) included in his/her bid.


bark mulch, decomposed granite, recycled rubber mulch and gravelSome mulch options are:

  • Kellogg Xeri-Mulch
  • Forest Floor (bark mulch)
  • Recycled Rubber Mulch
  • Decomposed Granite
  • Gravel



The second step is watering the garden and setting the irrigation system to automatically water during certain intervals. For the first 6-9 months you should water every 7-10 days for 8 minutes, and then you can taper the watering down to every two weeks and eventually once a month. It is often best to water during the early morning hours just before the sun is up. Watering during the day will evaporate the water faster and result in having to use excess water.

[pullquote]The establishment period of your garden is the time where you get to watch it grow and flourish.[/pullquote]The third step of establishing a garden is pruning, which is something that you do not want to do during the first year of your gardens growth. This is where the plants are beginning to acclimate to their new environment and would prefer to be left alone to grow, flourish and adjust to their new home. If you lose any plants during this time then your contractor should replace them and have some sort of guarantee already in place that should have been clearly defined in his/her contract.

After the first year you begin the process of pruning and maintaining. This can be done by you or you can have your landscape contractor give you a contract for maintenance in which he/she will come regularly (4 time per year is recommended if you are using native plants) to maintain your garden. If you are going to do the maintenance yourself be sure that you understand the plants natural growth habit and how to properly prune a plant. Only trim plants if you see a need, such as a spent flower stalk etc.

Well, this concludes my series on landscape planning. I hope you can take something away from the series to help you with your next landscape project. Be sure to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 if you haven’t done so already and please fill free to comment below if you have any questions or something you’d like to say!

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