By Penny Proteau, U. C. Master Gardener of Napa County
It's time to get into the garden. Whether you are planning a new garden, renewing an old garden, adding color and interest for summer or hoping to grow award-winning produce, now is the time to get started.
How to start? Make a plan. Whether you sketch out a simple vision or commission a full set of drawings, your plan will be useful for all your future gardening decisions.
When drawing up your plan, evaluate your space. Where is the sun throughout the year? How do you want to use your yard? For recreation? Growing vegetables? Entertaining? Or perhaps as a play area for children? Do you have pets? Do you want chickens? Do you view your garden as a private retreat or a public space?
Canvas your neighborhood for yards that you admire. Make a note of what you like about the landscaping. You may think you'll remember, but notes help. For inspiration relevant to our location, take a look at http://www.napa.watersavingplants.com, an online resource for water-wise gardening in the Napa Valley
After you have committed your plan to paper, think about irrigation. Thoughtful irrigation and wise planting choices will save you a lot of fuss and heartache in drought years. California native plants offer a diverse palette. Also look at Mediterranean plants to increase your options. Both are suitable for our wet winter/dry summer climate.
Wise water planning also means hydrozoning, or putting plants with similar water needs on the same irrigation station. Consider using pots for specialty plants that may need different care and maintenance than in-ground plants.
For inspiration, don't miss the U.C. Master Gardeners of Napa County's garden tour on Sunday, May 21. Purchase tickets for the “Discover Garden Magic” tour online at
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. U. C. Master Gardeners of Napa County ( http://ucanr.edu/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.