A New Garden Planning Tool

May 22, 2018 | Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Aralia cordata 'Sun King'

This is spot number 3 for my Aralia cordata. Third time’s a charm?

How many times have you planted a perennial then moved it? Then moved it again. Then moved it a third time crossing your fingers that it won’t hate you then keel over and die? Perhaps you are a more decisive gardener than me, but I’ve done this more times that I can count!

It’s almost inevitable that this will continue to happen – sometimes the plant just doesn’t like the spot I put it in – but for this year’s big “Garage Planting” project (which is 80% complete as of today!), I’m determined to minimize plant moving, especially given that I intend to plant trees and bushes, which really don’t lend themselves to transplanting.

My typical garden projects start with me: 1) researching shade plants with particular size/color/water needs, 2) recording their names in some kind of text-based list, then 3) forgetting what they look like along with all the other important details, which I then need to look up again. This loop is tiring and makes me crazy – and lazy! I end up just winging it and dropping said plants wherever I think they might work.

My Plan for the Garden Plan

To help fix my bad habits for my Garage project, I decided to try using Trello, a web-based planning tool that I use to organize my day-job work tasks. (Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with Trello in any way, I just like it!) Trello is basically a 21st century index card organizer. On each card I can capture screenshots of the plants I deem appropriate for the space, capture important notes with critical info like size and water needs, then attach links to online resources with more in-depth information.

For broader organization, you can group cards into lists, and arrange lists within boards. You also have the ability to create both static “grocery lists” of plant cards as well time-based to-do lists of task cards, which is a huge benefit over some other task lists I’ve used. And if you need a confidence boost like me, you move task cards into a “done” list, so you can have a nice sense of accomplishment as you watch that list fills up!

How I Organized My Project

The basic setup for my Garage Plantings Trello board is as follows:

  • Planted (List – All the plants I’ve purchased or moved into the Garden)
    • Fatsia Japonica (Card)
    • Pacific Fire Vine Maple (Card)
    • Sargent’s Weeping Hemlock (Card)
    • Golden Duchess Eastern Hemlock (Card)
    • Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’ (Card)
    • Soft shield fern (Card)
    • Huechera Red Lightening (Card)
  • Companions to Garage Plants (List – what will look good with planted plants?)
    • Golden Duchess > Ninebark (psychocarpus) (Card)
    • Weeping hemlock > viburnums, hybrid mahonias, witch alders, witchhazels and camellias. (Card)
    • Pacific Fire vine maple :Great Color Contrasts: blue, white, yellow Great Color Partners: burgundy, green, orange, red (Card)
    • Fatsia Japonica > hellebores, hostas, Solomon’s seal (Card)
  • 1st Choice Evergreen shrubs (List)
    • Several cards
  • 2nd Choice Evergree shrubs (List)
    • Several cards
  • Plant combos (List)
    • This is a spot for any images that show garage plantings in combo with other plants


Anyhow, the text list above is easy to read but the real deal has a lot more going on. I’ve made my Garage Planting board visible to the public so you can check it out! As with most things, it’s a work in progress and needs updating, but I feel this little bit of organization has helped me get a better handle on my project. There are so many moving parts with gardening, especially when picking and buying plants, that it’s nice have found a better method for the madness.

Garage Plantings Trello Board

A screenshot of my Garage Plantings board. Click on the image to visit my board on Trello!

Hope this has been helpful to some folks – do you have a organization tool you like? If so I’d love to hear about it!

*Lastly, I didn’t talk or show much about the actual garage planting project here – I’m saving that for another post! 




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