An Implementation Timeline
Before you start plopping plants down all willy nilly, it's a good idea to plan out your strategy. To help, here is a four-season task calendar that you can use to plan out all your garden tasks so you're ready for the plants.
Observe your yard’s existing conditions and make a map of the environmental factors that will impact your plant choices. (Where is it sunny, wet, shady, dry, etc.)
Check the Soil
Test your soil’s pH and percolation to see what kind of plants will thrive in your yard. You can buy a basic soil pH test kit on the internet or at your local home and garden store.
Amend the Soil, Prepare your Beds
The typical thing for gardeners to do before planting is amend the soil with compost, sand, and other material to improve drainage and add nutrients for the new plants.
Use the Lawn Gone Native templates as a starting point and modify to fit your yard and personal goals. But also feel free to customize it! It's your yard, and it should have all the native plants that you want (provided they have the appropriate characteristics!)
Find Your Plants
Scout out nearby nurseries that carry native plants. You may not be able to find every plant you’re looking for, but that’s just an opportunity to find some new plants! To help locate some places that may have what you're looking for, you can find the PA Native Nurseries tab under Helpful Resources
Get the Beds Ready
Mark out your beds with twine and stakes. Then dig up the turf in the shape of your beds. It may be easiest to roll it up in long, rectangular sheets. A flat spade can make this process easier. Break up the soil to a depth of about a foot and a half and amend the soil as needed. Typically, amendments include sand and compost to improve drainage and nutrient richness.
Identify generally how you want to lay out your plants to get a sense of how many plants you want to buy.
Buy & Plant Your Plants!
The number of plants you need will depend on the type and size of the stock. Typically, you will buy landscape plugs or containers. Some nursery websites have suggestions for how far apart to space your plants. If you are on a budget, consider using 4”-5” plugs for herbaceous perennials and smaller saplings for trees and shrubs. With a bit of extra care, in a few years they will catch up to the more expensive potted material.
New Garden Maintenance
Newly planted plants often need regular watering until established. This is especially important in the summer as heat puts additional stress on a plant while it's trying to establish its root system.
Observe Your Growing Garden
Watch how your garden grows. Remember that plants are living things that grow and change and spread. They aren’t going to stay where you put them. And if you see a nibble on a leaf, get excited because that means your garden is part of the local ecosystem!