Most of us hate doing those menial garden tasks. I just don’t do them. I don’t weed. I don’t water. I don’t pick off the bugs.
But one thing I do, faithfully, every year, is label my plants.
Want to know why? (Don’t laugh.)
Because if I don’t, in the spring, when everything starts to come up again ... I will have no idea what anything is. And neither will you.
If you don’t label those plants, you’ll have to wait until the leaves are recognizable (or something blooms) before you have any idea what’s in that spot.
If you don’t know what it is, it might look a lot like a weed and instantly become subject to the mulch-smothering technique or whatever weed-destroying system you employ.
It's important to label perennials and bulbs that go underground in the winter, as well as any new bulbs that you plant. (The markers will also help you remember where you’ve planted new bulbs, so that you can keep your design in check.) If you don't live in a warm zone, you don’t need to mark your annuals -- typically summer plants won’t make it through the winter, and fall annuals like pansies won’t make it through the summer. Make sure that you use a permanent marker or paint pen on your labels; otherwise, the writing will disappear at a disappointing speed.
Unless you want to know, it’s not important to list Latin names or care instructions on the marker. You may want to include that information in a garden journal instead -- which can just be a simple notebook. Tape in labels if you have them and write in any other information you might want, such as when you planted it, if it needs special fertilizer, or is susceptible to any bugs or fungi.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy plant stakes. Popsicle sticks will work if you live in an area with dry winters. Cut up plastic yogurt or sour cream containers. If you have old mini-blinds lying around, cut those into appropriate lengths. Even rocks will work!
If this is the only thing you get done in the garden this fall, you will be so thankful come spring, when you realize that invasive weed you’re about to pull is really a bunch of lilies that multiplied over the winter.
Image via Make Thyme