How to Garden in Western New York

My name is Rachel Brogan and I am a senior at Daemen College. I will be graduating a semester early with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Marketing and Spanish. I am also a garden sales associate at The Home Depot with three years of experience and garden certification under my belt. I am passionate about many things; video games, nature, photography, but most importantly gardening. The following information and advice is not something researched and reworded but actual experience I acquired from working with flowers and maintaining a garden of my own.

The Basics

The most common and basic question is what the terms ‘perennial’ and ‘annual’ mean. Perennial refers to any flower, tree, or shrub that survives the winter, while staying in the ground, and comes back year after year. Most importantly, we are in zone 6a, which means perennial plants will survive ground temperatures up to -10 degrees. This is important information to consider if you are moving from another, more tropical environment as plants you may be use to planting one time will not survive the winter here. For example, if you move from Florida the Mandevilla, a drought tolerant continuous bloom flower, will not grow again the following summer. Something simple like rosemary from a less so far away area, like Long Island will also not grow again in the spring. Another small bit of information that helps novice gardeners be a little less confused when starting a new garden is understanding the different type of soils you can purchase. Some common soils include garden soil, top soil, raised bed soil, potting soil, and organic versions of all of these. These soils are slightly different and range quite a bit in terms of price. Garden soil should only be used outside in garden beds while potting soil is a lot less compact than garden soil, and it has vermiculite and pearlite to help with drainage as well as over or under watering. Top soil is pretty much just dirt. Certain companies jazz up the dirt with peat moss so its texture is better and easier to work with. This soil is not the best to use when planting vegetables, flowers, trees, or shrubs, and should really only be used for filling holes in your lawn. Raised bed soil is used if you are creating an elevated garden bed, this bed is usually for vegetables or fruits and is made with wood and plastic so you don’t have to create a bed from scratch in your lawn. The soil is a combination between garden soil and potting soil where it is dense but has added slow release fertilizers for your fruits or vegetables.

Does Organic Gardening Really Matter?

Everyone has their own preference, but for those who don’t get the hullabaloo over organic gardening there are some occasions where organic makes a difference. Organic anything is going to be more expensive therefore spending money on organic soils, like potting soil and raised bed soil, is where you should spend the money if you are going to be eating what you are growing. It is also best to fertilize your fruits and vegetables organically as well, consuming crazy chemicals from a blue powder may not be best for some people.

Soil in Most of Buffalo/WNY

A lot of the top soil in WNY is clay, i.e. incredibly hard to dig through. If you need to create a new garden bed, its best to bring in the machinery, like gas or electric garden tillers/cultivators. Otherwise, if you are digging a relatively small hole for a bush, it is best to water the ground before digging in to make it a little less difficult.


Low Maintenance Gardening

Every garden is going to need some maintenance like watering and occasional trimming. However, some perennials like Cone Flowers, Dianthus, Butterfly bushes, and certain Allium are very low maintenance. Cone Flowers are unique and effortless, and attract bees. Butterfly bushes possess a deep color with a delicate fragrance which attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. In addition, some annuals offer low maintenance varieties like marigolds, geraniums, and lantana. Lantana is probably the lowest maintenance as they do not have to be dead headed and can survive drought. They are a variety of colors and also attract butterflies.

Attracts Butterflies

How to Save Money without Sacrificing Beauty

An impressive garden doesn’t have to cost you a lot. You can always start your garden from seed, and if you have a lot of free time and are looking for a new hobby, it is a fun thing to do. Otherwise buying cheap small flowers in the beginning of the season from nurseries is the way to go. A 98 cent seed geranium will thrive given the right care and condition. Annuals tend to beef up much quicker than small perennials as their roots need to establish before the plant can flourish.

DIY Deer Repellants that Actually Work

We have all heard some obscure tip to get rid of deer, but not so surprisingly, the deer still linger. For example, clumps of human hair, pepper, or cyanine pepper has not worked, in my experience. I live directly in front of woods and I have a bulb and Hosta shmorgishborg for the deer. One of the cheapest and most effective things I have used is Ivory soap. Cutting the bar of soap into large chunks and stuffing them in the leaves of Hostas and on the ground near plants keep the deer away. The large pieces of soap take a long time to dissipate so there is no need to worry about the rain. Another solution that is a little less accessible is coyote urine. Yes it smells, but it doesn’t take a lot to keep the deer away, but it does need to be reapplied after a hard rain or a few rainy days. Another option for a totally deer resistant lawn is using Milorganite which is refined, pelletized human sewage. It is a little smelly, which keeps the deer away, but full of nitrogen so it’s a great organic fertilizer for the lawn.

All of this information, and so much more, is important to know when moving to or living in Buffalo. Having a well-groomed and eye-catching garden is not hard to come by, and you don’t need to pay to have a landscaper create or maintain your garden for you.

If you are looking to move into a new home and start a garden of your very own or just move out and venture from home or college, stop by Red Door Real Estate on beautiful Elmwood Ave at 982 Elmwood, NY 14221.

Or call and talk to one of us at 716-768-1177.


Rachel Brogan

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