Planting Pointers

  • When working on top of prepared soil, kneel on a piece of plywood to distribute your weight. Whatever you decide to plant, do all you can by reaching into your freshly prepared garden beds rather than flattening the soil with your sturdily clad feet. If you do need to walk around inside the beds, use short boards or scraps of plywood as temporary steppingstones. You can also use specially designed kneeling pads to cushion your knees. Once you've got your beds and borders all planted up, it's a good idea to lay down permanent steppingstones for easy access. Or, simply create a mulched path that allows you to reach plants that need regular maintenance.

  • Throughout most of North America, spring is the best season for planting. The second-best time for planting is autumn, after the heat of summer and before the first frost. If you want to plant during the summer, do it during a spell of cloudy weather so high temperatures and strong sun don't fry tender new plants.

  • Planting in spring gives plants an entire growing season to send out roots and get established before facing the rigors of winter. The gentle warmth of the sun, frequent rain showers, and mild temperatures typical of spring create a perfect environment for new plants. Now that spring has officially sprung, nurseries are reopening, and the crocuses have arisen, you can start planting. Some colder areas may need to wait a couple more weeks for the soil to thaw and become workable.