If you’re anything like us, you spend your winter dreaming and planning for next season’s garden. Our home is often littered with seed and plant catalogues, lists of plants and seeds, and sketches of gardens yet to be.
Lavender is a tough and dependable plant, but it is very particular about growing conditions (especially when first established). The species of lavender that you grow also affects their ability to survive tough weather conditions. For more information on that, please see our Lavender 101 blog post.
When it comes to the actual location and arrangement of your garden, however, here are the top considerations for planning a garden for lavender:
1. Full sun is non-negotiable
Lavender is a mediterranean plant that requires full sun. Look for a spot in your yard that is free of overhanging trees, and away from shade sources (especially in the morning). Many varieties of lavender can reach a meter in height when fully grown, but this can take several years for the long-lived perennial varieties. Make sure your young lavender plants are not overshadowed by taller plant neighbours. Borders make a great lavender location! Bear in mind that lavender plants are also easily moved, even when years-old, so you can start them off on an edge when small and then move them later to the centre of your garden.
2. Drainage is key
Lavender loves water, but it loves it to come and then go. If you already have sandy or loamy soil, you’ve hit the jackpot for lavender planting! If, like us, you have clay or another soil type with poor drainage, a little soil preparation is required. Our top choice for soil prep is to till a coarse, bark mulch into the soil before planting. We then mulch around the plants every spring. This serves to control weeds, and also provides large pieces of organic matter that work into the soil every year. This will assist drainage, give oxygen to your lavender roots, and provide long-term slow fertilizer to the plants.
3. Check your pH
Lavender requires a neutral to slightly alkaline (6.7-7.5) pH. We recommend purchasing a pH testing kit from your local garden centre or hardware store and monitor your soil pH every year or second year. If you have consistently acidic soil, sprinkle some pelletised lime around your plants each spring.
4. Winter shelter
For small gardens, providing your lavender with a wall or windbreak can boost their longevity in cold climates. Lavender appreciates being planted near walls or buildings that shelter them from the wind. Just bear in mind their full-sun requirements! If, like us, you have expansive lavender rows, you may not be able to provide wind shelter. You can, however, arrange your plants so that larger plants protect the younglings.
We hope this helps you plan your upcoming lavender garden! Best wishes for 2020!
Image credit:Luke Barnard