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Gardening Tips for the Uninitiated

Updated on August 1, 2010

You know you like flowers. You know you love color. You know you've got space -- a canvas, so to speak -- for you to create your own garden oasis. But where or how do you begin?

There are many factors to consider to be successful, including:

  • How much sun or shade is in the area
  • The zone for your geographic location
  • Plant hardiness (cold tolerance, disease resistance)
  • Height and width of the mature plants
  • Required spacing between plants
  • Growth rate and moisture requirements
  • Shrubs, trees, climbing vines, or flowers
  • Annuals or perennials
  • Soil type, quality, and pH
  • Duration of the bloom period
  • Plants native to the area

In addition, what is the purpose of your garden? Do you just want to beautify your landscape or add a bit of privacy? Are you looking to attract hummingbirds, bees, and/or butterflies? Is erosion control a requirement or concern? Will the garden be a source of food (fruits, vegetables, and/or herbs)? Or what about pet safety -- is it necessary to avoid certain plants that may be toxic to animals?

Will you focus on certain colors that may complement your home, or would you prefer an array of color? Do you want the plants to offer something across the seasons, or will they be mostly spring or summer bloomers?

How are you going to maintain your garden, and how much time and money do you want to invest in it? Are you going to use mulch and groundcover to minimize weeds? What about companion planting so that plants work together to protect themselves against insects and disease? Do you have a particular design or layout in mind?

If plants become stressed or diseased, how will you treat them -- with homemade remedies, organic products, or commercially available chemicals? Or, will you just dig them out and replace them with new plants? Sometimes, simply relocating the plants may make the difference.

Taking the time to consider these questions and develop some answers will enhance the likelihood that your garden will be healthy and beautiful. It is rewarding to give life to a unique garden that you designed, developed, and cultivated. The benefits go far beyond enhancing the look, feel, and value of your property. The serenity derived from taking the time to stop and smell the flowers yields great dividends for many years to come.

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