Spring time is finally here! Stepping back into the garden, after a long winter can be overwhelming. Gardening should bring joy not stress to your life, so we hope this guide can help you get reacquainted with your garden. This time of year is perfect for tending your lawn, making new beds, pruning, and planting new fruits and vegetables. Here’s all you need to know to reach your full green thumb potential!
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener, the most important thing to remember is that gardening is a process. There’s no quick and easy way to beautify your yard or your plot, don’t be fooled by any quick planting hacks, it takes days and weeks of hard work and dedication to grow anything. The beautiful thing about that though, is that it doesn’t take any special skills. All of us have green thumbs as long as we take the time to care for our plants.
Gardening is a rewarding hobby, not just in fruits, vegetables and flowers, but also in increased Vitamin D levels, exercise and loads of other benefits. Chances are if you’re enjoying yourself then your plants will flourish alongside you.
As far as more specific general tips go, know your limitations before you start. Know how much room you have to plant, what kinds of plants flourish in your local climate and the quality of your soil. You can quickly test your soil with a DIY test from any local gardening store and knowing if you have to add some compost puts you miles ahead in terms of healthy planting. If you can’t find a test, or don’t have the time just simply walk around your neighborhood and see what everyone else is growing.
Most of your consistent routine will involve watering and weeding, as long as you do that periodically then you should be watching your plants blossom in no time!
A couple houseplants can brighten up any room or living space, but they’re also a lot more dependent on us to stay alive than outdoor plants are. This is why we all know someone in our lives who thinks they have a “black thumb” after killing a houseplant or two.
Luckily houseplants are a lot less work than those people would have you believe and just some careful attention can have you living in a lush paradise apartment in no time.
- Provide a good starting point: Be sure to buy a quality planting mix specifically labeled for raised beds or pots.
- Remember to water but don’t overwater: The no. 1 key to houseplants is keeping them watered, make sure you’re on top of that even if you have to set a calendar reminder to do so. Equally as important though, don’t water too much or you’ll drown your plant. A decent rule of thumb is if the soil is still fairly moist, don’t water yet.
- Make sure the soil drains properly: If you’ve ever wondered why potted plants have holes at the bottom, it’s so the roots aren’t stuck sitting in stagnant water. Double check that your potted plant has proper drainage, either a hole or some stones at the bottom.
- Know your plant’s needs: Not all plants are created equal, some need less sun, more water or a cooler spot to live. See how it reacts to different environments and if you’re seeing it droop after a couple days, change it up.
Perhaps you’ve been a “mow it and forget it” kind of person for years, or maybe you just bought your first house with a yard. Nonetheless, we know maintaining a green yard takes dedication. The first step is assessing your lawn to better understand what needs fixing and attention. The next step is to implement these 5 elements to your backyard game plan:
- Weeding: You can pull them by the roots, but if you have a heavily weeded yard you may want to invest in weeding spray. Look out for crabgrass, dandelions, quackgrass, and white clovers.
- Mowing: Steer away from mowing your grass after a rainy day or after watering to avoid clumping and damages to your lawn mower. Using your lawn mower properly increases density and decreases weeds. Pro tip: only mow ⅓ of the grass blade for a healthy lawn.
- Fertilizing: Pick the perfect fertilizer by sampling fertilizer on a small portion of your soil. Many garden centers offer free pH tests.
- Watering: If possible, water on overcast days or in the morning, to ensure your lawn absorbs the water deep into its roots. Avoid watering at night to prevent fungus spread into your lawn.
- Aerating: Conduct this once a year, typically in the spring or fall. This helps alleviate soil compaction to ensure grass roots grow deeper and stronger. Aerating tools can be rented from garden stores or home improvement centers, or you can always get your own to avoid the renting hassle.
- Seeding: Look for thin or yellowing areas and plant grass seeds that match the type of grass you have. If you’re in the Northern U.S., you likely have a cool-weather grass. If you’re in the south, you probably have warm-weather grass. Check out this guide to ensure you get the right grass type for your geographic location.
It is no doubt that shrubs add the perfect touch to any landscape. Their versatility makes them highly favorable like: bringing privacy to designated areas in your yard, adding color to your walkway, or serving as backdrops to your garden beds. After carefully choosing a shrub that will thrive in your climate, be sure to pick a spot your shrub can grow into. Follow these gardening practices to ensure you grow beautiful shrubs:
- Pruning: To maintain its shape and size, light pruning is recommended. The tools you use will depend on the size of your shrub. Consider buying hand shears, loppers, or hedge shears from your local garden center.
- Watering: This step is pivotal to shrub maintenance and growth. Water thoroughly once a week for 5 to 10 minutes encompassing all parts of the shrub.
- Fertilizing: Should only be done to shrubs that are performing poorly. Consult your nearest gardening center to pick the proper fertilizer. Newly planted shrubs and those in good condition do not require fertilizer, you will jeopardize their growth and weaken their natural nutrients.
By far the most satisfying plant to grow, vegetables not only provide you with a delicious reward, they can also help you cut down on your grocery bill!
Vegetables can be finicky depending on where you live so before deciding what to grow you should check this handy guide from the National Gardening Association. You can input your zip code and get a detailed list of when to plant your veggies.
Two vegetables that are great for beginner gardeners are lettuce and tomatoes. Both are quick and easy to start up while providing huge payback. You can begin to harvest lettuce leaves just a month after planting and it’ll continue to grow all summer. Tomatoes are a classic home garden staple that just need water and sun. They provide ripe fresh tomatoes that are great in salads, sandwiches or simply on their own.
While vegetables can often be a lot hardier than flowers or more general plants that doesn’t mean they’re invincible. Take care of them with all the same nuance and tips we’ve laid out above and you’ll be well on your way to opening your own farmers market.
These easy to grow flowers will give that confidence boost you need to fulfill your green thumb needs this year. Start with one or select a few and get growing!
- Sunflowers: These iconic plants are grown in every state due to their low maintenance nature. They thrive in the sun and aren’t too picky about soil. They perform well with regular watering. Be sure to stake your sunflowers once they grow over 3 feet, so they live a joyful life.
- Coneflowers: A popular and colorful perennial plant you want to add to your garden. They’re heat and drought resistant, bloom for months, and are easy to grow. Be sure to plant in a sunny area and water at least once a week.
- Zinnias: You can never lose with Zinnias with their low maintenance requirements and range in shapes and colors! Plus, they are safe to plant around animals. Sow your zinnias anytime through the end of June, in a sunny area. They can grow up to four feet tall and need at least 6 to 12 inches of spacing between one another.
- Marigolds: An annual favorite for both humans and beneficial insects like butterflies, bees, and ladybugs. Making them the perfect companion in your vegetable garden because they help protect your crops from predators and pests. They love the sun but some shade throughout the day is beneficial. Remember to allow the soil to dry in between watering otherwise your marigolds will rot.
- Geraniums: Easy to care and abundant bloomers that love to grow in a range of weather climates. They have a long blooming season that starts in spring and can go into fall with constant watering and regular pruning. Brighten your patio, garden beds, or a room indoors, just be sure to keep away from pets.
Hopefully this guide helped you get started or get back in gardening and revive your natural green thumb after a long cold winter! Know that even if things don’t work out the first time, eventually everyone can become a gardening star.