Ilona's Grand Garden Tour

Landscape Design Principles, Plants, and Your Garden

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This website has over 500 articles and resources, here, plus more than 1000 on my Journal, to help with your home landscaping. That doesn’t include the many articles in the Gazebo section and the reviews on the Gardenlibrarian pages.
Everything posted is 100% free, no strings attached. Use the field below to search our my collected best links of garden resources. Try using keywords, topics, or type a question.

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Skills Every Gardener should Have

General skills for creating and maintaining a garden are sometimes the first thing you want to start with in locating the garden information you need. Certain skills are needed wherever you garden. The technique used to improve clay soil is the same as the one for sandy soil: more humus; pruning a mugo pine is similar to shaping every other pine; pinching back plants for stronger growth and better blooms – yes, most plants will benefit from that.

When should you prune? What were the steps to planting this new tree? How do I plant this flat of annuals ….? If you have questions like that and want to find the answers quickly, this post is a FAQ aggregation of posts for you. From elsewhere on my site come many fact-filled posts, and this “index” will help you to find your information quickly.

Design Skills

garden plan

Garden plan using repeating forms

While some of us start out with designs and blueprint plans, many of us are handed a plot of land with plantings that we aren’t at all sure of how to take care of, or perhaps an almost blank slate of lawn. But if you are here, you would like to know some of the information that is to be found on these pages.


“From the Journal” refers to posts in my blog, ‘Ilona’s Garden Journal‘, now called ‘Home and Garden Companion‘”

Season Tips

Garden Guides for specific seasons center around specific chores that crop up every year. Common perennials are best planted or divided at the times given in tips and reminders, so these seasonal guides go along with the monthly task calendar pages.

Because I always love highlights of a season to be pointed out for articular attention, sometimes “things to celebrate” are given focus, too.

  • Early Fall Guide introduces the many things that we can be doing in the garden at this ideal time.
  • Autumn is both a close and a beginning of the coming garden season.
  • Early Summer is packed full of beauty and work!
  • Midsummer Garden Guide gives specific seasonal care during the hot months of the summer because we garden differently, then.
  • Spring Guide from a view of the project tasks specific to this part of the year.
  • Spring Blooms from shrubs and ornamental trees make you want to sing.
  • 14 Early Spring Garden Chores cover the first things you want to do to kick off the growing season.


Planting a tree or shrub is more than just one skill- it encompasses a whole group of them. For the beginning gardener, these are broken down into everything important to give good success in one of the most important features of the garden, your trees and shrubs.

Only the hard features of paths, fences, and buildings are more permanent than the “woody” portions of a landscape plan.

I have enjoyed seeing my garden mature over the years, but not everything was a success. That is why I will share my failures and where I went wrong, too- so you don’t need to make the same mistakes.

Landscaping Skills How-To

From The Journal

      Planting Notes


planting annualsPlanting flowers:
Planting flowers is one of those skills that we all engage in at one time or other if we have our own garden. Who can resist a bright spot of color?

A few basic techniques will make it easier, and give better results. Don’t just plop plants into a plot, follow a plan and plant them right for all season performance.

seasonal spot:
Growing vegetable gardens can shave money off your food bill. Maybe it is time to plan a Kitchen Garden, after you find out the truth about growing your own food.

I returned to my roots and have been planting more food crops (I never stopped putting in tomatoes!).


prunersThis is one of those things that people ask the most questions about. I think it is more daunting to take the loppers and cut off things than any other chore. We want to do it right and not maim our plantings. Pruning is simpler than you might have thought. With a few reminders on timing and a couple rules on where to cut, most pruning jobs can be accomplished with confidence.

From The Journal

      Pruning Notes


Pruning a tree or shrub:

Improving Soil

How do I improve my soil? If there is one question we should all ask, and learn the answer to, it is this one.

I can’t stress enough that this is the one section of garden advice that will give you the best return for investment. Whatever you put into your earth in terms of amendments, cultivation, or nutrients… will repay you richly.

Winter Composting
Your Garden Can Take Care of You

soil amendments

soil amendments


How do I mulch my garden? Quick how-to and longer explanations of a basic method of weed suppression and water conservation.

Dig a little into the types of mulching and how it will benefit your garden. Every year, it seems like water conservation is more important, and this is one way to preserve precious moisture in the soil.


What should I be doing this month in the garden?

One of my favorite features in old garden books was the generic garden calendar of tasks. It points out the rhythms of the gardener’s labor. We settle into a synchronization with nature, but it is never an exact repetition. Revisit past years chore reminders.

Important Facts

What should I know about my garden?

microclimate illustration

Showing leeward side of building

No matter where we live, there are climate concerns and the primary one is “How cold does it get, and will my plant survive it?”
Hardiness zones are a way to give us a ball park figure, and micro climate information is a way to understand the mini climates in our gardens. Knowing these things can make the difference in whether a plant survives or not. No, it’s not the only consideration, but it is a major one.

Ohio Planting Zones

From The Journal

      Understand Your Garden Notes


Perennial Plants Annual Plants
    1. Plant Library

      If you simply want to find out about the plants themselves, this is the direct route. Find out about specific plant types or varieties. Pages have a general description and list specifically related posts.

      1. Plant profiles blog, how to grow specific varieties
      2. Grow flowers  Annuals, Perennials
      3. Bulbs   Lilies, Tulips, Daffodils, Small Bulbs
      4. Shrubs
        Deciduous, Evergreen
      5. Trees    Ornamental and Shade trees, Evergreen
      6. Herbs   The plants and gardens
      7. Vines
      8. Groundcovers
      9. Home Vegetable Gardening
    2. Tool Guide

Some Garden Extras

Things gardeners like to read, but might miss…

    1. Poems and Quotations Garden Wisdom and Monthly related poems
    2. Learning Garden Basics
    3. Garden Supply and Book Reviews The Garden Librarian is undergoing a major renovation.

More About This Website

Read the story about this website

The site in a nutshell

Garden Flowers by Category

Perennial Plant Primer | Annual Plant Primer | Flowering Bulb FAQ |


Garden Projects

| By Season  | Hardscaping | Flowering Containers |  |

Seasonal Specific Resources

Additional Resources