Top 5 Spring Planning Tips

The absolute number one tip is to plan before you purchase anything... But that’s easier said than done, so here are City Grange's TOP FIVE TIPS to get started.

[If you like what you're learning, consider joining us for a free online class on April 8 - details HERE]

  1. Take your morning coffee outside. Walk around the property… and walk around again, in the opposite direction. Your space is a microclimate - How is your exposure at 8am, 12 pm, and 5pm? Is your space exposed or sheltered? Does debris pile in one corner? Likely, that’s the direction wind moves through the space.
  2. Put on your boots and head to the yard after a good long rain. Document where water sits, and about how long it takes to dry up. This is an indicator of soil type and will help with plant selection.
  3. After a few dry days, dig a ‘test pit’ about 18” deep. What’s your soil look like? Is it a nice even brown color, or a lasagna of greyish-soil, urban debris, and rock? Make notes on color and texture. Then, put a hose in and fill up the pit. Let it drain and totally saturate the soil overnight. The next day, fill it with water again and monitor how quickly water drains. How many inches dissipate in an hour? More than a couple inches an hour means you’ve likely got good drainage rate and soils. Doesn’t budge? You probably don’t have good drainage. 
  4. For more colorful research, make note of early spring flowering bulbs! After a long Chicago winter these little clusters of bulbs can pack a punch. Do you love the delicate little purple crocus, or the big and bold allium? Take pictures and document where they’ve been planted. This fall you can replicate location on your property and enjoy next spring!
  5. What is working in your existing design? What would you like to see work differently? Be critical, but don’t be hard on yourself!

Hack: Don’t get frustrated trying to measure and draw your house in plan view. Just take an overhead image from google earth, print it out, and write your preliminary notes there. Once you have an action plan, focus on the details.



Bridget Walsh, aka “Our Lady of Landscaping” runs our landscaping division. A landscape designer and artist, Bridget likes to get personal with her designs by hand drawing them whenever possible. An advocate for organic and sustainable landscape practices, Bridget can transform any space into an oasis that is as functional as it is breathtaking.