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by Sabine van Osenbrüggen
**This month is about the existing garden. If you've just taken over your grandparents' house or bought a nice stock, you're bound to find a garden to go with it. And with an old garden, you proceed a little differently in the planning. You first have to see what is available and what you want or need to preserve.
The first thing you do is go to the garden with a tape measure and paper and measure it to the last corner. Even if you've had it for a long time, you'll be surprised at the details of your garden you discover. When we were measuring our garden, we found out - on the advice of an old neighbor - that the boundary stones were somewhere else and we gained half a meter more garden! When measuring, it is very important that you really note every tree and shrub. As with planning a new garden, you need to know in which cardinal direction your garden lies and which soil is predominant in the garden.
Get to know your garden's regular guests
Not every tree or shrub may be felled just like that, here there are more or less strict specifications depending on the state or municipality. Therefore, first check with the public order office of your municipality. So, first get smart before the big fine comes. In addition, every tree is a CO2 donor that should be preserved as much as possible.
Before you start digging up something "unsightly" in an old garden, wait until spring; it could be beautiful perennials. In general, I would wait the first year to see what the garden has to offer. Which early bloomers will come, which fruit trees will blossom and bear fruit or which perennials will delight you at which time. Also: which weeds are showing themselves? Because nothing is worse than planting a new perennial bed and then ground elder destroys all your work. You can document all these observations in our Perma Calendar and then already note down your wishes and ideas for the coming year, since the Perma Calendar is perennial. After you have observed the garden over the year, you can probably minimize some interventions. Maybe only the hedge needs a good trimming or the fruit tree needs a strong pruning and it will bear again, maybe even an old fruit variety. You can dig up the early bloomers after they bloom, label them, and let them dry. Then you can replant them in the fall in the new perennial bed, for example. In any case, you must also ask yourself the question, what should the garden be for me.
In our three-year Perma Calendar you not only have enough space for all your observations and ideas - for each season we have noted many tips for sustainable design of your garden.
Those of you who have known and loved your garden for a long time may want to make a change. The kids are grown, and the sandbox can perhaps be turned into an insect and lizard paradise. We described how to do this in the Perma Calendar. The lawn is getting on in years and no one has played football on it for a long time. How about a flower meadow, it's good for the bees and makes less work than the lawn. Maybe the back doesn't want it that way anymore. A raised bed instead of the normal vegetable beds would take the strain off it. Or the old cypress hedge has dried up - a chance to plant a hedge of native woody plants that provide plenty of food for insects and nesting opportunities for the birds.
All of these projects need to be planned, ordered and paid for. Therefore, think and calculate a little longer and measure again the corners of your garden, test with a chair the new seat research a little longer on the Internet for the greatest raised bed of larch wood, before you buy something or have it built for you and then it is afterwards not as you imagined.
Have fun watching your old garden grow and then in March we'll get into sustainable balcony design. Feel free to check back on our blog.
Have fun planning and gardening.