Successful Gardening-Before you start planting, take some time to plan your garden for successful gardening. Consider the amount of space you have, the type of soil, the amount of sunlight, and the climate in your area. Make a sketch of your garden and decide which plants you want to grow and where you want to place them.
My First Gardening Experience for Successful Gardening
Ah, to this day I still remember my first gardening experience. It was
such a disaster that I didn’t think I would ever want to garden again. I
almost decided to turn my casual hobby into the most rage-inducing topic
you could possibly bring up to me.
It all started a few weeks after I moved in to my first house. I was
excited just to have my own grass to mow, since I had been in apartments
and condos for quite a while. In between plans to paint walls and renovate
the inside to exactly how I like, I thought it would be a good idea to
start a fruit garden so that I could have some fresh produce and put my
yard to use. At that point I didn’t really know anything at all about
gardening. But still in my spunky youthful years, I decided I didn’t need
help. How hard could it be to start a garden and grow stuff? After all, it
happens in nature all the time and nobody even has to do anything.
I already had a grassless patch in my yard where it looked like the
previous owner had attempted a garden. But any attempt they had made
turned out to be an utter travesty. The area was full of rocks and weeds,
with no signs of any agreeable plants. I spent several hours of work
spread over several days to clear out the entire area, leaving nothing but
dirt. At that point, however, I didn’t realize the difference between
“dirt” and “soil”. I was dealing with barren, hard, nutritionless, and
I made some attempt at making my garden look nice; although I think even
Martha Stewart would have had difficulties. I took some stained boards
that were sitting in my basement (quite convenient, no?) and used them as
a border for my garden, to keep out all the pests that couldn’t jump more
than a foot (I figured I would be safe from lawn gnomes). I used the pile
of rocks I had collected from the garden to make a creepy shrine looking
thing in front of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that.
I went to the store that very day, and picked out whatever looked tasty.
Strawberries? Sure! Watermelon? Yeah! I hacked away a hole in the
rock-hard ground and poked the seed in. After that, I think I watered it
faithfully every day for several weeks before realizing that it was not
going to grow anything. But even after I had that realization, I continued
to water in hopes that my seeds would pull a last minute sprout on me. But
I knew there was no hope, and I was heartbroken. After all those hours of
pulling up weeds and tossing rocks into a pile, I had no fruit to show for
So, feeling dejected and betrayed, I logged onto the internet and searched
for a guide to gardening. I quickly ran across a site that led me to
realize the true skill required for gardening. It was then I learned about
soil consistency, nutrients, ideal watering conditions, seasons, and all
those things. After I read up on my area and how to grow fruits, I learned
exactly what to do. I learned how to get the ideal soil, when to plant the
seeds, how much to water, etc. Just a night of browsing the internet and
printing off sources, and I was totally ready for the next planting season.
If you’re in the position I was, and you’re just itching to start a new
garden… I urge you to learn from my mistake. Make sure you do plenty of
proper research on the types of plants you’re trying to grow, along with
the climate. Spend money on good soil, good fertilizer, and good garden
tools. Hopefully you don’t have to go through the emotional disaster that
I went through.
Mulching for Free For Successful Gardening
I’m sure that if you are reading this, you have used some form of mulch during your gardening career. However, you probably didn’t know that there are many other options for organic mulching that you can explore. These days, many gardeners are discovering new sources of free mulch that has been there all along; an untapped resource. These include clippings from a lawn, or woody prunings from other plants in your yard. You will be surprised by how beneficial all these things can be, and how often the opportunity arises to use them.
Many gardeners have taken to spreading out their excess grass clippings across the rest of their yard. You may think this will look tacky, with big piles of grass just sitting in your yard as if you were too lazy to rake them up. However, if you spread them out enough then you won’t even be able to tell that there is an excess amount. Leaving the extra grass on the yard acts as a sort of mulch by preventing evaporation and weed growth. With this extra water, you won’t have to water nearly as much to keep your grass green. When I started leaving my grass clippings, I had to adjust the frequency of my sprinkler system because I was worried my yard was getting too much water!
If your garden is in more need of mulching than your yard, it is not unheard of to rake up all the grass and transport it to your garden. By making a small layer around the vicinity of the plant, you’ll apply all the same benefits from leaving it in your yard. My yard is rather green on its own, but I often have trouble with my plants staying green and healthy. So, rather than leave the grass clipping in my yard, I move them all around my plants. It is just a matter of choosing what your highest mulching priority is.
Sometimes, our pruning activities will lead us to have an amazing amount of branches and twigs. If this is the case, you should consider renting a wood chipper to put all of those branches to use. After one day of intense pruning, you would be surprised at just how many branches you end up with. Rather than throw these away, you can turn them into a huge amount of mulch for your plants. However, if your pruning has not left you with that big of an amount, you should bundle it all up and save it to add onto the next batch. This is because the chipping machines can be slightly expensive to rent, and you want it to be absolutely worth it!
Over time, all organic mulches need to be replenished. This is because they will naturally decompose in the conditions of your yard. Usually you can tell for yourself just by looking at it, but sometimes it can look perfectly regular but still have problems. If you start to notice any poor plant growth whatsoever, you should replace your mulch. Always keep in mind that during the process of decomposition, your mulch will use up the valuable nitrogen in the soil. Without this, the plants will be missing a key nutrient. There are several types of fertilizers available on the market that are specifically designed to deal with this problem.
The use of mulches in the yard and garden is something everyone should try. Not only can it save lots of time by reducing the amount of garbage you have to transport out, but it increases the healthiness and integrity of your plants by putting that so called garbage to good use. So if you think you would be able to save a good amount of branches and twigs for chipping, or if you think that you are ready to stop raking up all your grass clippings, then I think that mulching is for you.
Optimizing Your Garden for Drought or Water Conservation
Living in Colorado and being a gardener has been rather stressful in the
past few years, as this state has been undergoing a rather severe drought.
The city is imposing watering restrictions which are not giving enough
water to lawns and plants. I’ve had to renovate my garden to make it more
water efficient. Now, because of the techniques I’ve employed, I’m the
only one in my neighborhood with a garden that isn’t completely brown. So
if you live in an area that is going through a drought or if you just want
to save water, I suggest you use some of these techniques as well.
First, I took out all my plants. The soil I was using didn’t retain water
very well, so I had to water about twice as much as necessary in order to
get it to actually absorb into the roots. If you have this same problem,
you can fix it by loading the soil up with lots of compost. This not only
prevents water from escaping, but encourages the plant’s roots to be
healthy and able to survive more.
Once I was done optimizing the soil for my new low water consumption plan,
I was ready to replace all my plants. I decided that the placement of all
my plants would reflect the amount of water necessary to keep them alive.
All the plants that don’t require much water I placed in on one side of my
garden, and then just progressed in the amount of required water to the
other side of the garden. As a result of my new arrangement, I don’t have
to waste water on plants that don’t need it as much.
The installation of a drip irrigation system was another move on my part
that reduced the amount of water I needed to fully water my garden. The
great thing about these systems is that they constantly drip into your
plants, so that every single drop is absorbed. With traditional watering
systems, usually the roots get too overwhelmed with the sheer amount of
water in the soil. Thus, lots just seeps right past. This is all taken
care of with the drip system.
If you still seem to need more water than you can supply to your garden,
you might consider which plants you could replace with less water
dependent plants. If you want a good shrub that doesn’t use up more than
its share of water, look for Heavenly Bamboo. It is not only tolerant of
droughts, but looks rather decorative in any garden. Herbs such as
rosemary are useful in preparing meals, and are rarely thirsty.
If you’re trying to find flowers that will still be lush and beautiful
despite the lower amounts of water, look for penstemon varieties like
Garnet, Apple Blossom, Moonbeam, and Midnight. You can attract
hummingbirds and butterflies with varieties like Cosmos and Yarrow. The
best part about all these plants is that they don’t look rugged and
withstanding, but they sure are. Your neighbors wont be saying “Look at
them, they downgraded their plants just to withstand the drought. What
chumps!” Instead they will be marveling over how you keep your flowers so
beautiful in the midst of the watering regulations.
One of my favorite drought resistant plants is the Lavender plant. I could
go on for pages about it. A large group of Lavender plants looks
unbelievably gorgeous in your garden, and hardly requires any water to
flourish. Pineapple sage is another personal favorite. It is a 2+ foot
shrub that smells strangely of pineapple. It’s another major attracter of
hummingbirds, and the leaves are also useful to add taste to drinks.
So if you are in the position I was, and you’re dealing with a drought and
perhaps watering regulations, I suggest you try some of the things I’ve
mentioned. Even if you’re just trying to conserve water or be generally
more efficient with it, I think you’ll still be able to benefit.
Other Factors in Garden Creation
So now you’ve picked out what type of garden you will have, what the
location will be, and what kind of fertilizer you need, now is the time to
really get started in choosing your garden environment. First you’ll want
to choose what your garden barriers will be. What will separate your
garden from the rest of the world? Next you’ll want to choose the
decorations and support for your plants. Often some kind of metal mesh is
necessary to keep your plant standing up. You will also want to choose how
much soil and fertilizer to buy, and how to arrange all the plants in your
Choosing a border is actually a fairly important step in getting your
garden started. It might not actually affect the well-being of the plants,
but having a garden is a fairly aesthetic ordeal for many people anyways.
So usually you will want to choose between metal and wood. You can stack
up boards around the perimeter of your garden, and give it a rather nice
cabin look. If you’re looking for a more modern look, you can obtain some
metal lining at your local home improvement store for rather cheap, and
installation is medium difficulty.
Finding something nice-looking to support your plants can be a little bit
more challenging. Sometimes a short metal pole can work well, but often
for plants such as tomatoes you will need a wire mesh for it to pull
itself up on. You can find these at any gardening store, usually
pre-shaped in a sort of cone shape ideal for plants. The plant just grows
up through it, and usually it will last until the plant is grown enough to
support itself. After that you can take a pair of wire-cutters and just
snip it free.
Deciding how much soil to buy can be slightly easier. Look up information
on your plants and find out the ideal soil depth. Then dig out that much
from your garden, take the measurements, and find out the exact amount of
cubic feet of soil that you will need. Go to the store and buy it,
preferably adding on a few bags just so you can replenish the supply if it
compresses or runs out. If you live in an area where the ground is rough,
dry, and barren of nutrients, then you might even want to add a few inches
of depth to the original recommendation.
Arranging the plants is rather important to the success of your garden.
I’m not talking about some kind of feng-shui thing, but depending on your
watering, some plants might hog all the water and leave the other plants
high and dry. Some plants have longer roots than others, and are more
aggressive in the collection of water. If you place one of these plants
next to a plant with weaker, shorter roots, it will quickly hijack the
water supply for itself, and choke out the other plant.
I hope I’ve led you to realize that placement isn’t the only important
thing about a garden. There are many other factors that might not seem
very significant, but spending a proper amount of time considering them
could change the outcome of your garden. So if you’re working on building
a garden, use and reference you can (the library, the internet, and
magazines) to look in to some of the factors I’ve mentioned.
Picking a Healthy Plant
When it comes to getting started with your garden, you have two choices; planting seeds, or buying entire plants. Both have their own benefits. If you plant seeds and care for them every day, you will find it is a much more rewarding experience when you have a full, healthy plant. However, this method is a lot more risky. I can’t tell you how many seeds I’ve planted and never seen any trace of whatsoever.
If you choose to buy the plant from a nursery and install it in your garden, it reduces a lot of the work involved in making it healthy. However, I have found in the past that many incompetent nursery workers will absolutely ruin the future of the plant by putting certain chemicals or fertilizers in. I have adapted to this incompetence by learning to choose the healthiest plant of the bunch. Here I will discuss some of the techniques I use in my screening process for plants.
It may sound superficial, but the one thing you need to check for on your prospective plants is how nice they look. As far as plants go, you can truly judge a book by its cover. If a plant has been treated healthily and has no diseases or pests, you can almost always tell by how nice it looks. If a plant has grown up in improper soil, or has harmful bugs living in it, you can tell from the holey leaves and wilted stems.
If you’re browsing the nursery shelves looking for your dream plant, you want to exclude anything that currently has flowers. Plants are less traumatized by the transplant if they do not currently have any flowers. It’s best to find ones that just consist of buds. However if all you have to choose from are flowering plants, then you should do the unthinkable and sever all of them. It will be worth it for the future health of the plant. I’ve found that transplanting a plant while it is blooming results in having a dead plant ninety percent of the time.
Always check the roots before you plop down the money to purchase the plant. Of course if the roots are in absolutely terrible condition you will be able to tell by looking at the rest of the plant. But if the roots are just slightly out of shape, then you probably won’t be able to tell just by looking at it. Inspect the roots very closely for any signs of brownness, rottenness, or softness. The roots should always be a firm, perfectly well formed infrastructure that holds all the soil together. One can easily tell if the roots are before or past their prime, depending on the root to soil ratio. If there are a ridiculous amount of roots with little soil, or a bunch of soil with few roots, you should not buy that plant.
If you find any abnormalities with the plant, whether it be the shape of the roots or any irregular features with the leaves, you should ask the nursery employees. While usually these things can be the sign of an unhealthy plant, occasionally there will be a logical explanation for it. Always give the nursery a chance before writing them off as horrendous. After all, they are (usually) professionals who have been dealing with plants for years.
So if you decide to take the easy route and get a plant from a nursery, you just have to remember that the health of the plants has been left up to someone you don’t know. Usually they do a good job, but you should always check for yourself. Also take every precaution you can to avoid transplant shock in the plant (when it has trouble adjusting to its new location, and therefore has health problems in the future). Usually the process goes smoothly, but you can never be too sure.
Picking the Ideal Location for your Garden
Once you have picked what garden you want, there are many other factors
you need to decide before you actually get to work with your gardening
tools. Mainly you need to choose its location. This is usually decided by
several factors: How you will water it, how much shade it needs, etc. Some
of these questions can be very important in deciding whether your garden
lives or dies, so don’t take them lightly. You need to take each one into
Choosing the garden’s location within your yard is one of the more
important things to decide. You want to choose a location that will
provide an ideal climate for the plants in your garden. I don’t know what
type of garden you’re dealing with so I can’t give you specific advice,
but if you do a Google search for the plant you’re dealing with then
you’ll find a plethora of sites informing you about the perfect conditions
for its growing. After this, it’s just a matter of finding the most shaded
or most sunny spot in your yard.
Another deciding factor is how you plan on watering your garden. If you
have a sprinkler system already installed for your grass, then it could be
a good idea to put your garden in the middle of your yard. Then it will
get watered at the same time, and require no extra work from your part.
But if this doesn’t provide for a good location for your garden, then you
might end up watering it by hose or dragging a sprinkler out there. In
this case, just make sure your garden is within the ideal distance for a
hose to reach. While this might not seem like a good thing to base the
entire location of your garden on, you’ll be surprised at how nice it is
to plan out in advanced.
Getting the perfect amount of shade for your garden can be a difficult
endeavor. Once you have a basic idea for where you want your garden, you
might want to watch it and record how many hours it spends in sunlight and
how many it spends in shade. Compare your findings to an online web site,
and you should be able to determine whether the spot you chose is ideal or
not for planting and starting your garden in. Of course the amount will
change as the seasons change, but this should give you a good idea of what
to basically expect for the rest of the year. If necessary, later you can
put up some kind of shade to protect your garden from getting too much sun.
After you’ve determined the ideal place for your garden and whether it has
the right amount of sunlight, and whether you will be able to conveniently
water it, you’re one step closer to actually starting your garden. Of
course there are other factors that I have overlooked here, but mostly you
should be able to decide whether your location is good or not based on
common sense. Just think: If I were a plant, would I be able to flourish
here? If you can honestly answer yes, then I think its time for you to
head out to your local gardening store and buy the necessary soil and
fertilizer to get started! Have fun!
Picking the Right Gardening Tools For Successful Gardening
If you’re thinking about taking your gardening seriously and getting out
there every day to increase the attractiveness of your garden, then you
will want to get the right tools to help you in this. You might be tempted
to go out to the store and just buy the nearest things you see, but you’ll
be much happier if you put lots of thought into the styles and types of
tools you’re buying. There are styles designed just for gardening, and
you’ll be better off buying those.
You can find most of the tools you will need at your local gardening or
home improvement shop. Usually the employees will be simply thrilled to
assist you in finding the ideal tools. If you go to a shop that
specializes in gardening, you can usually get some advice in addition to
service. Gardening store employees are usually an untapped wealth of
wisdom, and they are how I learned almost all that I know about gardening
If you are having a hard time finding the right tool or if you want to
save some money, you might try looking online for the supplies you need.
You’ll have to pay the shipping costs and wait an extra week or two, but
often if you buy more than one tool, the total savings will be worth it.
You should always buy from a reputable seller, though, and search around
beforehand for anything negative that people had to say about their buying
As far as basic digging tools go, you might already have all you’ll need.
There are several types that you should get though, for different specific
tasks. A round point shovel is good for digging holes for plants. A spade
is necessary for all the more intricate work. A garden fork you might not
use as much, but I have one in my tool shed and I’ve been thankful for it
on multiple occasions. Having these different varieties of digging tools
can help you to minimize the work you have to do. For example, if you try
digging a big hole with a little spade then you’ll end up rather tired.
The same goes if you are attempting to do more detailed work with a big
A rake is an absolute necessity. You most likely already have one, but I’m
guessing it’s a lawn rake and not a garden rake. There is definitely a
difference, and if you try to use a lawn rake in a garden then you will
not be happy with the results. Same if you buy a grading or a contractor’s
rake. You’ll want to look for a bowhead rake. I’ve found these are the
best for gardening purposes. They will provide you the maximum control and
accuracy, so you don’t accidentally tear up your precious plants.
As far as hoes go, I don’t believe any gardener should have less than 3.
There are so many useful varieties on the market that I have a hard time
recommending just one, and that’s why I’ll tell you all the ones I usually
use. The one I use the most is the onion hoe, which is very lightweight
and ideal for small cultivations and weeding. The Warren hoe is a larger
model, with a pointed end. If you need to make a hole or dig out a pesky
weed, this is the one for you. There are several other varieties, but I
recommend starting with the ones I mentioned. As you progress in your
gardening savvy, you will find the need for more types.
Most people believe that gardening just consists of a simple spade. But
there are many, many tools with many more variations that you will use in
your gardening career. Usually you can start with just a few different
tools, but you’ll always find that you can use more varieties for special
situations. It’s just a matter of recognizing when one tool could be more
efficient than another.
Preparing Your Garden for the Winter
Some people believe that when the weather starts getting colder and the
leaves start to fall, it is time to put away the gardening tools and wait
until next spring to work on their garden again for successful gardening. Wrong. Winter is an
important time to maintain your garden’s health and assure yourself a good
crop for next year. You may think that might take to long to prepare your
garden, but the truth is that it takes less than one day to prepare your
garden for the upcoming winter.
When the nighttime temperatures drop to less than forty-five degrees
Fahrenheit for more than four days in a row, or frost is forecasted for
your area (usually around late October or November) you know its time to
begin preparing your garden. You should begin by evaluating your garden
design, check which plants grew well in the past season, and which plants
did not do well. Fall is a good time to decide which plants will remain in
you garden next year, and which ones should go.
It is also a good time to decide which new plants you want to grow. To
make your garden more colorful and healthy, be sure only to plant the more
hardy plants during the fall so that they can withstand the winter. Some
plants that will do fine being planted in fall are: rudbeckia, Aster
Novi-belgii, Anemone Japonica, panicle hyandea, endive, escarole, and
Brussels sprouts. You can find all of these and more in gardening
magazines or your local nursery.
After you have finished this you should begin cleaning up your garden.
Begin by pulling out weeds that may have cropped up, and raking fallen
leaves. Weeds and rotten leaves can carry insects and diseases that might
be harmful to your garden. You should also rid your garden of spent annual
plants, and harvest your vegetables and other plants that cannot withstand
the winter weather. After fall has come and gone, the leaves will be off
your trees and you can see the rotten branches. Trimming off the unwanted
branches from your trees isn’t necessary to your gardens health, but may
help later on by not dropping branches on your plants and not blocking too
much of the sun.
If you have younger trees you should consider wrapping them and supporting
them with stakes to help them survive the winter wind and cold. Putting
mulch over your garden for the winter can be a helpful way to protect
plants from sudden temperature changes and heavy snow. For mulch you can
use about five inches of shredded bark, pine needles, or a variety of
other materials. You have to be careful not to mulch too early, because
some insects may still be alive and able to take shelter in it for the
Once you are finished with your gardening tools you should clean them and
make sure they are in a safe place where they won’t rust and you know
where they’ll be for next year. Before winter comes you should always set
out slug repellent, as slugs are one of the worst bugs to have in your
garden. If you have a pool or fountain in your garden, be sure to take out
any fish that you have in them and bring them inside. There’s nothing
sadder than a fish frozen in a block of ice.