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Rules of Gardening

Updated: Mar 1, 2021

Debbie Roland, Master Gardener

“Significant Enclosure” is one of the gardening rules that most outdoor designers use. Our little farm has five acres and it was difficult to achieve that “homey, cozy” space I wanted. I finally decided I needed to have a separate space for each “project”. There are two fenced acres for the miniature donkeys, a fenced acre for my beloved chickens (1 rooster and 27 hens), a fenced acre in the front for the dogs and almost an acre for the house and backyard/vegetable gardens/outdoor living.

The outdoor living space is bordered on the North side by a very large and tall shop, on the west side by our house, with the south and east enclosed by an 8’ tall metal fence. Inside that is a large covered patio, a pool and a separate area of raised beds for vegetables. I was finally able to define an area as a “significant enclosure”. We need that feeling of being embraced by nature and having a place of refuge.

Within that area, walkways are a wonderful addition to any planned area. Remember 5’ is the minimum width of a walkway for two people walking side by side.

Hardscape is anything you use in your garden that is not alive. Several years ago I realized that I didn’t like the look of my yard. It was because everything was too small. Small pots, small statues. I started investing in large metal sculptures of birds, large fountains and pots. The difference is amazing. Go big or go home really is true. When we built our patio we built a very large one which has served several purposes. The large roof directs rainwater into my backyard and it cuts down on the area that might otherwise be planted in grass which would require water that I’m not willing to draw from the aquifer.

When you plant your beds always plant small plants in the front and large ones in the back, and don’t just plant three of the same plant, plant in masses. Fifteen of the same plant will give you a look that pops.

Last, it is “always better to plant a fifty cent plant in a $5.00 hole than a $5.00 plant in a fifty cent hole”. Always plant in amended soil by adding compost or your favorite amendment. Dig your hole 1-1/2 times wider than the width of the pot that the plant is currently living in. When you place the plant in the hole do not plant it any deeper than it is in the pot. I do always loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole to allow the roots easy access.

If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at and


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