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I am good about photo documenting the beginning of the garden season. But when the harvest comes on, and it's time to pick and can I forget to get enough tired from "real life" forget to share. Giggles That's what happens when you pass 50.

I did take the before pictures, pointed in the right direction and they still didn't convey the reality of the "before" state. I guess you have to give up gardening and adopt photography as your new hobby and buy a fancy camera to really pull this off.

Congratulations, Susan! It will be great. And I LOVE my screened porch. Certainly the best money I've spent on my current residence.

The next time I make a garden, presumably at another house, I will spend way less on the house--and way more on the chicken shed, swimming pool, fence, stone terraces, and outdoor pizza oven.

Houses are nice, but not where I want to be. I want to be outside.

If I were starting out in my current yard, I would pay way more attention to the infrastructure--hose bibs, retaining walls, hardscape, lighting, etc--than I did. If/when I move to a new place, it's likely to be much smaller; I'll still pay attention to the infrastructure, but also think long and hard about how I will most use and enjoy it, BEFORE I start planting! Also, I would try to be more ruthless about existing plants--it's always been hard for me to uproot existing plants, even when I know they don't belong there.

What would I do differently if I was starting all over in my garden, or starting a new one? EVERYTHING! First, I'd prepare bigger beds and add TONS more organic matter. Second, I'd use the heck out of poly row covers and start at the beginning of March instead of waiting til almost June. Third, I'd add more herbs, many many more herbs. That's just for starters...

I'd buy no perennials for at least a year. Or if I couldn't resist then none under 3 ft tall. I got to excited about my garden and ended up with lots of perennials and no shrubs, which, when I discovered them, I had to do a lot of wrangling to get them in and it still looks a bit of a mess to me.

Mistakes ? Lawn. And not keeping a close eye on the roots of the neighbor's maple (they are now up in my iris beds, making thinning impossible, & wrapped around the sprinkler pipes). Lack of follow-through on my vision for the front landscaping (it was the siren call of pretty & unique nursery plants that led me into design danger). Not recognizing that eventually the kids grow up & I should've bought the place I want to live in once they get past the needier stages of life. Suburbia's okay, but I want chickens & bees & not to curse the neighbors' shade trees encroaching on my veggie garden.

I think the hardest thing about a new place is to go slow and mostly watch the first year. For instance, I moved into my current house at the end of June and didn't notice until the following Spring that I have a huge bed of Solomon's Seal. I'm very glad I didn't rip it up before I found out what was there.
If another gardener previously lived in your house, there may be delightful surprises in store for you.

Forget zonal denial. Make sure your "bones" are at least a zone hardier than you think you need. That way, if you get a bad winter, they won't be six inches tall, and not doing their job. Zonal denial is for ephemera.

I regret not giving enough room for the 'boring' evergreens. They really are the backbone to any yard.

I most regret my "Noah" impulse: I bought two of everything I saw with no thought to how they would add to an overall plan. As a result I spent most of years 3 and 4 moving stuff around, offer outliers to friends and generally being caught up in trying to impose a plan on what was a hodgepodge.

I believe the fun part is precisely to have to dig and replant if something doesn't appeal to the eye, or if the plants fail. I am in favour of trying and testing ! after all, isn't it all the delights of climate change ?
We have just got rid of our boring and aging hedge. Have a look on From now on, it's a new adventure starting ! It's like having a new garden. And the neighbours love it, being able to peer into our formely well-hidden plot !

More mistakes than I could list, but what I'm regretting most just now is not taking firmer hold of the "wild" part of the yard, which is currently growing a fine crop of invasive weeds. But for the most part I value all the false starts and abrupt endings, and it's not like it's ever going to be finished.

A few things:
- Ignoring pH requirements in a VERY alkaline area (water and soil).

- Presuming my front (north) yard is just as well as my back yard for all plants. That poor xylosma...

- Disregarding the benefits of barrier plants to keep insect predators at bay w/o poisoning my entire garden.

"I believe the fun part is precisely to have to dig and replant if something doesn't appeal to the eye, or if the plants fail. I am in favour of trying and testing ! after all, isn't it all the delights of climate change ?"

Celine, in twenty years you may find less delight in digging up and moving large plants. Once a person has reached a certain age, rearranging is also for ephemera.

Dithering and not doing anything was one of my biggest mistakes. Nothing got done, right or wrong because I would be paralized by choices. Another mistake was relying on a two dimensional site plan. What looks marvalous on paper doesn't necessary translate to real life three dimensional. And finally never ever believe those little tags on trees and shrubs regarding the full size. That is the size at 10 years, not full size.

Deirdre, you said it, sister! No more heavy moving.

I would have cut down the 65' silver maple that dominates our garden above and (those roots!) below. Better to live with no shade for a few years than that beast. Five years in, now I'm just scared that a big chunk of it will fall and annihilate our mixed shrub border.

And I second the evergreens suggestion. I would hate a "boring" evergreen hedge less than my neighbors' awful yards.

I wish I had been more realistic about the way I thought I'd use the spaces in my landscape. I had romantic notions of toddling out to the "back 40" with a glass in hand to read a book in solitude on the carefully placed bench surrounded by fragrant perennials. The reality is, once that screened porch is built the "back 40" may become a neglected mess. Oh yeah, and the second mistake - don't think you have to cultivate every square inch of your property. As I have aged I have pulled out entire beds and turned them to patio or ground covers. I just don't have the time, energy, or even inclination for high-maintenance gardens any more.

Great suggestions, everyone! I'll be adding several to my list - like being sure to include evergreens and doing the hardscape first.

I have to second the 'dithering and feeling paralyzed by too many choices' and 'allowing weeds to take hold' a couple of summers long ago when I was absent, late, distracted or otherwise slack on weeding.

I also have regrets about focusing so intensely on growing (mostly annual) edibles, that I have reached my 60's and haven't really gotten that shrubly structure and perennial border started.

Ironically, a couple of shrubs I planted accidentally have done well, but they are both wrong plant and wrong place. These 'accidents' occurred during various remodels, when construction required the digging up of small plants but I didn't have time to figure out their proper future location, so I stuck them in the ground any old where, and now they are in the way, and I feel guilty whenever I think of taking them out.

For me, my regrets mostly come from things I haven't done, or haven't done in a timely manner. Acting on impulse (cute plants at nursery), deciding I was going to have an all-native plant landscape, never installing a decent watering system 30 years ago. Looking back, I can't believe I am still hauling HOSES around all summer (I'm in the arid West).

Damn, the age thing creeps up on us -- I thought for years my yard was way too small for everything I wanted to grow, but now I am mentally turning many a growing area into deck, patio or pavers. Change in the garden never stops.

While "vigorous and fast growing" are good descriptions for a big, bare, beginning garden, they quickly become "rampant self seeders, invasive and too big" for gardens as they mature. And never, ever, never, ever, plant Bishop's Weed again. The word "weed" in the name should have been an indicator.

Eradicate invasive and persistent weeds (including plants that become weeds) over at least two years before thinking an area is clean to plant. Stay away from as many plants that reseed as I don't want to get rid of because they became weeds in the future. Amend the soil for drainage before beginning. (I had a high percent of sand in my soil two houses ago and miss it terribly. Sand is cheap!) Be BOLD in the design so there is a striking element during each main season - early spring, spring, June, summer, fall and winter.

Lots of good ideas here. Check out this column for how to get the most out of free landscape designers:

Planting flowers as seeds. They take forever to bloom.

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