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How Does Your Garden Grow


Expert advice to planning, planting, decorating and maintaining a beautiful garden you can enjoy all year long.

The growing season is upon us, and now more than ever our homes are becoming our sanctuary. After a long, harsh winter, it’s time to get out into the garden and create a haven for you, your family and friends.

April is a great time to start planning and preparing your garden. April not only kicks off of the growing season, but it also includes two important celebrations that encourage getting acquainted with the nature in your own backyard.

Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. Founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, Earth Day is intended to create awareness of the Earth’s environment. The McHenry County Environmental Defenders and McHenry County Conservation District will celebrate April 18 at Prairieview Education Center in Cary from noon until 4 p.m. The event will include seminars such as Composting 101 and other sustainable living topics. For more information on this event, visit or call 815-338-6223.

Arbor Day is April 24. Julius Sterling Morton organized the first Arbor Day in Nebraska City, Nebraska, to promote tree planting. An estimated 1 million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day, and today the holiday is celebrated across the United States and several countries worldwide. It provides a wonderful opportunity to plant a tree of your own and get children involved. Visit for more information and ideas. With newfound or refreshed inspiration, it is time to get to work. Gwen VanSteen of The Gardens of Woodstock (5211 Swanson Road in Woodstock, 815-337-2509, says April is time to plan the design of your garden, perform spring cleanups to prepare soil, and plant evergreens, shrubs and cold-weather vegetables.

“Green is very important now with the high price of many fuels. Homeowners can cut back on their energy costs with the correct placement of shade trees, shrubs and, for winter, protection evergreens,” said VanSteen.

The Gardens of Woodstock provides excellent design consultations. Bring in photos of your yard and, if available, the plot of survey, and the design staff can help you plan placement of plants and select varieties. It’s helpful to come prepared by knowing what colors you like or dislike and any particular species you enjoy.

“It is exciting to see people’s enthusiasm when you point out plants that will enhance their home and add to the outdoor living comfort” said VanSteen. “People can walk through our gardens and envision how plantings will look at their homes. We’ve had many people ask if they can move to our garden or have our garden put in their backyard. That is a such a huge compliment for all of us here at the Garden, from the designer, Mike Balleto, to the men who keep it neat and clean for everyone to enjoy.”

Along with design consultation, The Gardens of Woodstock also offers landscaping services and free delivery of in-stock merchandise.

In May, add to your garden by planting annuals, perennials, ornamental grasses and warm-weather vegetables. By mid-May, the water in your pond or water feature should be warm enough to add fish and water plants. May is also the time to clean out or install birdhouses.

Once your plant materials are in place, consider adding unique garden accents. The Gardens of Woodstock carries many unique fountains and statuary. They also carry Summer Classics outdoor furniture, which features designs for any style or home.

VanSteen also says you can continue to plant through August if you water regularly. She also recommends organic pesticides and herbicides to keep your plants healthy and safe. Many should be applied in early spring for best results.

While maintaining a garden is an ongoing task, the reward comes in having a relaxing, aesthetically pleasing place to kick back and escape or fresh vegetables to feed your friends and family. Gardens also provide habitats for local wildlife and improve the overall look and feel of our communities.

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