I’m often asked how to start a garden. I answer, “What do you want from your garden?” No matter what, the overwhelming answer is to enjoy the garden. The best way to do that is to have a sitting area as the focal point. Start there.

As winter is approaching, it is the perfect time to acquire a garden bench, bistro set or just a comfortable teak chair. Garden centers are in clearance. Facebook buy/sell groups are loaded. Find something you like that is comfortable.

Place it in your yard or landscape. Visit at different times of the day to gauge natural light, shade, wind. Move it if not ideal.

Keep in mind that nothing has to be permanent. Think in terms of usage. In my garden, I have a small bistro set between my raised vegetable garden beds. An old shelving unit is behind the table against the house foundation. I use this area at the crack of dawn to have my coffee and communicate with God. At lunchtime I have grabbed a bowl, fork and salad dressing to enjoy a fresh salad. The shelves have window boxes of micro salad greens. The veggie beds have cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and chives.

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The set gives me an afternoon resting area from tending the garden with a cup of tea. In the evening I have a quiet place to reflect on the day.

My set has to fit in very little space. You may have much more space and other needs.

Once you have the perfect location, you can accessorize it. Do you need an umbrella or sunshade? How about a windscreen? A six-foot piece of fencing with another cut in half for sides gives instant privacy from neighbors. Or you can plant shrubs that will do the same.

Make a bed of mulch in a kidney shape using a couple of layers of cardboard on the ground with four to six inches of mulch on top. Fill some large decorative pots with plants you like. A couple pots of mint will help keep bugs away. Add a couple of citronella candles for night time enjoyment. I use a table candle.

As you get comfortable with your sitting area focal point, you can make it more inviting and permanent by planting directly into the ground. A small Japanese red maple can provide shade. Hostas and Heuchera can give three and four season color. Annuals give splashes of color and provide for pollinators.

A sitting area is the perfect start to a garden by providing a focal point as well as a destination to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can stop here or use this as a jumping point for other garden areas.

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