Winter is a perfect time to start planning your next garden. Here are five tips you can use right now to get a head start on your garden planning:

1. Choose a Theme
Gardens come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Your preferences will determine what kind of garden theme you have. Many popular themes include vegetables, herbs, flowers, ornamental, pollinator-attractors, and more. You can also choose a theme based on colour, water requirements, attracting wildlife, and more.

2. Pick a Few Focal Plants
Having a just one or a small handful of special focal point plants will anchor your garden and provide it with a central rallying point around which you can plant other elements. Generally, larger, showy plants with bold colours or beautiful flowers feature as the centerpiece. We’ve seen everything from fruit trees, water features, and even rock gardens as focal points of the garden.

3. Create a Timeline
Figure out what you materials/tools you need, when you need them, how early they can be planted, how often they need water, etc. Pencil this in your calendar so you can be ready when the weather warms up. If you use a digital calendar for managing your schedule, you can create a separate calendar just for your gardening activities. Important dates like the first and last frost date (May 9th and Oct. 6 respectively for Toronto), solstice days, when to start your seeds and more can all be included

4. Write it Down
Whether you choose to go with pen/paper or a digital method, put the plans in a place where you will remember when the time comes to update, refresh, or execute the plan. Putting this in your garden notebook can also ensure you keep it in a place where you will remember. You do have a garden notebook right?

5. Seek Input
Get input from other family members who will enjoy the garden, from experienced gardeners, or friends/family who’s opinion your value. Show them your plans, sketches and feature plants to get their advice. Often, they will see or think of things you’ve overlooked. One mistake we’ve seen in the past was over estimating the sun conditions. In the winter when the deciduous trees drop their leaves, more sun will reach more areas of your garden. In the summer you may be faced with a thick tree canopy you forgot about in the winter.

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