This summer I was faced with the ultimate garden renovation. Our business was awarded the contract for the design, installation, and maintenance for the annual beds at the famed Valhalla Golf Club. Then, prior to The PGA Champion-ship, we were also asked to renovate several perennial beds.
One of the most visible plantings needing renovation was a large perennial/ornamental grass area behind the clubhouse deck. A physical inventory of the current planting was first. Next it was time to step back and take a good hard look. I walked through the planting, all around it, then went up on the deck and looked over it. I even drove past it at a leisurely speed. On the second or third pass it became clear.
The combinations of plants were all mixed together rather than arranged in groups. The plant choices were excellent and very appealing together, so all we needed to do was rearrange them a little and add others to create a visual mass.
Garden renovation can be tricky. Some-times it’s best to remove a few sections at a time, rather than removing all the plants at once. We chose to remove several clumps of the smaller pennisentum and weeping love grass, which made the larger maidenhair grasses more predominant.
We then added more white and purple coneflowers, several Russian sage, a variety of butterfly bushes, along with a few orange coneflowers to even out the display.
Once our newly renovated bed was complete, we made sure we took an
"after" shot for comparison with the "before" photos. The difference was remarkable!
When you’re faced with a garden renovation, one of the best things to do is to take photos and study them for a while.
You’ll be able to look more objectively at photos than when looking at the live area. You’ll soon be able to decide what should stay and what should go.
When to renovate
Perennial gardens are best renovated in early fall or spring, but many perennial plants can be successfully dug and moved almost anytime. The key is having the time to water a minimum of three times per week until plants are established.
Soil and planting
If the soil is poor, you will need to amend it quickly as you dig and move plants. I al-ways use Mr. Natural Complete Landscape Mix. It is a soil-based landscape amendment that readily mixes in and is an excellent addition for heavy clay soils. Keep newly dug items in the shade and the root systems moist. Plant immediately when soil prep is complete.
I am often asked what kind of mulch should be used and I always reply,
"What kind of mulch do you like?" Adequate mulching – 2 to 3 inches
– is recommended for all landscape beds. The type you choose is generally a matter of personal opinion and economics.
Never fertilize perennials when digging and moving plants. They need adequate time to re-establish a good root system (up to three months) before pushing them with nitrogen-based fertilizers. For regular maintenance, fertilize annually each spring before or as new growth begins.