Monday, March 16, 2015

Gardening Trends in Michigan

With the spring season in full swing, now is a good time to develop a gardening plan. Here are a few popular gardening trends this year to help get you inspired. 

  • Low maintenance. Busy home owners want to enjoy yards that don’t require a lot of time and effort to maintain. This trend is translating into more low-maintenance, carefree choices for outdoor spaces. This includes things like: materials for decks, patios and columns that don’t require repainting or replacing, furnishings that can be left outdoors throughout the year, and plants that don’t have to be constantly watered, fertilized, or pruned. This leads to a greater use of perennials instead of annuals in gardening, since annuals require yearly replacement.
  • Containers/raised bed gardening. Another trend in gardening is the use of raised beds and containers. Many would-be gardeners decide against growing things because they lack the property to accommodate a garden. Raised garden beds and containers, such as pots and planters, provide a way for people to grow pretty much everywhere and even make it possible to take your garden with you when you move! Individual containers for each plant can also make it easier to gauge how much water is needed for any particular plant, and possible to optimize sunlight absorption on a plant-by-plant basis.
  • Edible gardening. Growing fruits, vegetables and herbs at home is becoming increasingly popular as people want to live healthier lifestyles. People are also starting to see the value of urban farming and how it can benefit communities. Urban farms are a great way to teach future generations about healthier living and giving back to the communities where they live, work and play.
  • Rain barrels. With the melting snow and unpredictable weather patterns of our beloved Mitten state, it can be hard to be prepared to keep up a garden. A proper amount of water is necessary for the success of any plant, so it’s important that there is a source readily available. Rain barrels provide a way to collect water that would otherwise run off the roof and down into the sewers. The collected water can then be “portioned” out in the proper amounts, over the suitable time period. Using rain barrels not only gives gardeners more control over their plants hydration, but also saves money by decreasing their water bill!
  • Animal or bee gardens. Another trend worth mentioning is the growing amount of animal gardens, or homesteading. Animals can improve the health of almost any garden in a variety of ways. For a relatively small amount of money, a beehive can be started and maintained, and provide not only delicious honey, but help keep plants and gardens in the vicinity thriving. Honey can also be a great secondary source of income. A chicken coop is generally more expensive to start up, but many people find it more appealing to keep chickens instead of bees. Chickens also help fertilize and eat bugs that might ruin a garden. Be sure to check your city ordinances regarding “live” gardens before you buy your chickens.
Careful planning and timing are important for the success of any garden, so start researching ideas on the type of garden you want to have this summer. The MSU Smart Gardening website is a great place to start to get an idea on how to start gardening and what types of plants will thrive in Michigan. Have any Michigan gardening tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below.

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