Angie's List: How can I start my own garden?
As you see flowers and vegetable gardens beginning to grow around your neighborhood, you may feel inspired to start a garden of your own. After all, there are lots of benefits to having a garden — improved curb appeal and fresh veggies, to name a few. And caring for a garden is also a nice way to pass the time on summer evenings and weekends. Whether you’re new to gardening or coming back to a long-adored hobby, these expert tips will help you get your new garden started.
Do your research.
While it can be tempting to buy every beautiful plant you see at the garden center, it’s best to do your research before you make a purchase. Do some digging online or talk to a professional gardener to find out what greenery will thrive in your yard. For example, if you’re looking to plant in the shade, you’ll want to purchase low-light options like ferns or hydrangeas. If your yard attracts a lot of direct sun, choose plants that can handle the heat, like coneflower or Russian sage.
Tip: Be sure to know the difference between perennial and annual plants as you go about planning your garden. Perennials will return each year in the spring, while annuals will last for a single season.
If you’re a beginner, start with hardy plants.
Keeping up with a strict watering schedule or temperamental greenery can be tricky for even the most experienced gardener. When you’re starting out, it’s better to lean toward forgiving plants in your garden. Daisies, black-eyed Susans, lamb’s ear, cat mint and the aptly named “obedient plant” are all on the hardier side of the spectrum.
Tip: When you place your chosen flowers and shrubs, be sure to give them adequate room to grow. Otherwise, crowded plants end up competing for nutrients and won’t reach their full potential.
Be prepared to deal with pests.
Unfortunately, pests are a very real part of the gardening experience. And while you can always call a pest control service for help, there are a few steps you can take at home to keep critters away. For instance, planting marigolds as a barrier around your garden ( or incorporating mint into the area) is known to help repel aphids, mosquitos and other insects. And using cedar chips in the space is known to help deter ticks and fleas.
Tip: If you struggle keeping rabbits and deer away, look for plants that are less appealing to wildlife. Some will even have a “deer-resistant” label that makes them easier to find.
Don’t forget drainage.
If you’re starting with a container garden, be sure to provide your pots with adequate drainage — otherwise, your plants are at risk for root rot. Choose a well-draining soil for your potted plants, and only use containers with draining holes at the bottom. You can always drill your own holes in the bottom of your pots. Create even more drainage (and keep large pots from getting too heavy) by filling the bottoms with rinsed out aluminum cans, milk jugs or bottles, and adding dirt on top.
Tip: Drainage makes a difference in your landscaping, too. A landscaping professional can help you find ways to direct rainwater flow to the right areas of your yard.
Jenna Schuster is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.