Bender… don’t pee on that! Don’t pee on that either! Get out of the garden! Don’t eat that! Yucky! (Boy dogs, what else can we say?)

Spring has solidly arrived, the grasses and plants pushing upwards past the nuggets of not gold strewn about from the winter past.

Time to activate the green thumb you may or may not have. (Ours is moderately green, though perennials are very appreciated for their hardiness…)


[Backstory: At the end of September last year we bought our house. Nearly half of the huge backyard was a “jungle” – plants tall and thick that hid the fence, 2 bushes and a small tree, and everything shorter than knee high.

The jungle was hacked through, plants removed to the point of a rough strewn canvas of dirt. Winter arrived. 

Spring arrived. Ground level was lumpy, unlevel dirt. And from the dirt has sprung forth a multitude of green plants in a plethora of styles.

Currently identified as of May: Tulipa Tarda (love these!), Siberian Squill (everywhere in the yard…), Glory of the Snow, a pink and green Hellebore, wild ginger, and white Bleeding Hearts, as well as a large pink Bleeding Heart, white Magnolia, pink Azalea, two pink & one orange Rhododendron, plus a chokecherry & crabapple and variegated lilacs called Sensation.

There are approx 7+ peonies that are budding too!


Don’t pee on that!
Bender you’re sooo “helpful”…

(Bender gets tied up away from the garden because his “helpful” is stepping on plants, peeing on them then enthusiastically kicking up dirt as he marks his yard with the biggest doofus smile on his face. Thanks for the help buddy.)

Let’s get to gardening!

Step 1: Prep

Evaluate old mulch, add or replace as needed. Decide if you’re going to reduce or expand beds, or if you are keeping the plants that are long time residents, moving or removing them.

(We decided removal was the first step for the jungle last fall. Moving will happen progressively as plants start arriving this spring and after they have been identified.)

The timing is also perfect to divide and split clumping perennials (things that grow from bulbs, tubers etc) to give the roots more growth room.

Bonus: you have extra plants to add to empty spots in your garden!

  • Adding in new plants? Aim for  for flowering plants that are bee friendly – here’s an awesome list from the U of M!

    FYI in St. Cloud we are Zone 4a / 4b, while closer to the Minneapolis & St. Paul area the zone is 4b. Growing zones give you an idea of what plants will be the hardiest for the area’s weather.

    The higher the number the warmer the climate the plant needs and less hardy it will be in colder seasons. Which means the 7a perennial you love won’t make it through a Minnesota winter.
  • In any sort of gardening with dog, safe animal friendly plants is something to be aware of. If you have the kind of pup who enjoys tasting everything that grows, its good to know which plants are toxic!

    Here’s a mega list from the ASPCA: Toxic Plants for Dogs. (Hmm, hostas are on that list… good thing there is a bazillion of them in our yard…luckily Bender doesn’t munch on the garden plants!)

Step 2: Plant

Prep finished, plants moved/removed or picked out, let’s get gardening!

Layering is key! Just like layering decorative pillows to dress up your bed, layering plants will dress up your garden throughout the seasons.

  • Height layering: tall plants in the back, mediums in the middle, shorts in front. Straightforward. (Granted sometimes your talls are short and the shorts go tall, adjust your bed if this is the case).
  • Seasonal layering: based on when the plant grows & flowers. Spring plants are first up, first to flower and can leave you with decorative bushes the rest of the season (peonies are early summer masters at this). Summer plants will give flowers from June to August, and late seasoners will flower until frost.

The best made garden transitions throughout the seasons with blooms in each season so there is no lack of color throughout the warm months.

Step 3: Water, weed & enjoy!

…. DON’T PEE ON THAT!!!!!!