Keeping Garden Records

You’ll save time if you keep written records of what works, what doesn’t, and why. The more you write down about what you did and when you did it, the easier and more accurate planning will be next spring.

Records can be kept in a garden journal, a loose-leaf notebook, or a scrapbook in which you paste seed packets and articles torn from magazines. Computer programs and garden journals can also be purchased for this purpose.

Make a loose-leaf garden journal with the suggestions in Make a Garden Journal.

Use these records to make a calendar that will show approximately when particular maintenance tasks should be done. Make an effort to pare the calendar entries to a minimum number of truly important tasks—drop the make-work tasks that aren’t necessary. Then follow the calendar’s suggestions.

Make a Map of the Site

Even if your memory is extraordinarily good, you’ll save time by making a scale drawing of your site with the names of a the plants and the installation dates if you know them. Draw maps of vegetable and annual flower beds anew each year, at a large scale. During the growing season, annotate these maps (“never came up,”“flowered from July to frost,”“disease prone,” and so forth) for future reference. With this information at hand, you won’t repeatedly plant species and cultivars poorly suited to your site, and you will quickly determine which are the low-care plants.

Label the Plants

Most gardeners don’t even consider labeling their plants, but labels, at least for perennials, are great time-savers. They’ll save you countless trips to double-check the site map (which is better off left indoors, where it won’t be damaged) before you start pruning or spraying for pests. Furthermore, sturdy metal labels, some on stakes, are available at low cost. It takes only a few minutes to install them, and they’ll add a professional touch to your landscape.

Remove the plastic name tags usually attached to woody plants purchased from nurseries. These tags can chafe bark and will eventually girdle limbs. It isn’t a good idea to attach, even loosely, any kind of labels directly to plants.