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Ask A Boston Expert: How To Start Your Dream Garden

Deborah Trickett is the owner of The Captured Garden, and also teaches workshops and classes at the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. She has worked all over New England designing gardens and creating container gardens for clients. Here she provides her top five tips for starting a dream garden on your own.

Deborah Trickett MCH MCLP
Owner, The Captured Garden
Milton, MA 02186
(781) 329-9698

Deborah has won awards for her amazing container garden designs. Her work has been featured in Garden Gate magazine, The Boston Globe and New England Home magazine. She is a frequent garden lecturer at the New England Spring Flower Show and the Philadelphia International Flower Show. She is also a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist.

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Analyze Your Site

The first and most important step is to do a thorough, honest site analysis. Look at your space and determine whether it is sunny, shady or a combination of both. This analysis will help to determine what types of plants you will be using. Have a soil test done through a local cooperative extension to assess your soil's health. Then identify problem areas and eyesores, like your A/C unit or a neighbor's rusted swing set. Finally, evaluate what kind of maintenance you are willing to perform to keep your garden looking its best.

Plan Ahead

Have a plan set for your garden before you go to the nursery. Even a simple sketch will help to keep you organized. You do not want to overdo your garden with too many colors, shapes and scents. Choose a combination of colors, a few certain types of flowers or a theme, like 'butterfly garden,' to keep your garden on track.

Build Structure First

Start your design with the bones of your garden. These are evergreen plants that will be seen year round. These plants are the anchors of the garden. They create structure in your garden and prevent it from going flat in the winter. Even if you are designing on a budget, make sure these are the plants that go in first.

Related: A Guide To Boston's Franklin Park Zoo

(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Use More Than Just Flowers

Don't build your garden around flowers. When the flowers stop blooming, your garden will fall asleep and lose its luster. Use a mixture of perennials, evergreens, shrubs and bulbs to ensure your garden has visual interest year round. Also, try adding plant material, garden art and containers to reflect your own personality. Plant what speaks to you. Your garden does not have to come out of the pages of a magazine.

Be Sure To Compost

Add compost, compost and more compost to your garden to improve soil composition. Use it before you put your garden in and then use it as mulch after your garden is built. Great gardens start with good soil. The more organic material that can be incorporated, the better. Compost not only improves soil structure and increases nutrient content, but it also wards off plant diseases.

Related: Boston's Best Doggy Day Care

Kim Vareika is the owner of Vareika Personal Training and Yoga in Plainville. She has been in the fitness industry for over ten years, and believes that wellness is about more than just physical health. When she is not teaching, practicing, or writing, she resides in Bridgewater where she enjoys spending time with family, friends, and her nephew Caesar. Her work can be found at

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