Whether you are new to gardening or are looking to revamp your old plot gardening expert Melinda Myers outlines five basic steps to keep your garden blooming, beautiful and healthy for years to come.
1. Start with a plan
Money-saving experts often encourage shoppers to eat a snack and make a list before going to the grocery store. It’s just as important to make a list before you head to your local greenhouse or plant nursery. No gardener, like a hungry shopper, can resist a bargain or special treat (for the gardener that is usually a cool new or unusual plant variety). Purchasing plants with a planting space and purpose in mind can save money and reduce long-term maintenance needs.
2. Select the right plant
Make sure the plants can tolerate the temperature extremes, soil conditions, moisture, and sunlight in the given landscape. And give those young plants room to grow and reach their full size without having to do excess pruning.
3. Prepare the soil
Healthy soil is the foundation of a beautiful and productive garden. Work 2 to 4 inches of organic matter into the top 12 inches of garden soil. It improves drainage in heavy clay soil and water holding ability of sandy and rocky soils. Add a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer, like Milorganite, at the same time. As the microorganisms break down, the fertilizer releases the nutrients over a long period of time. Better for the plants and less work for the gardener.
4. Provide proper care
A healthy plant is better looking, more resistant to insect and diseases, and requires less corrective care. Water thoroughly and only when needed. Reduce workload, save money on the water bill, and be kind to the environment by collecting and using rainwater. And mulch the soil around plants with shredded leaves, evergreen needles, or woodchips to help conserve water, reduce weeds and improve the soil as it decomposes.
5. Manage pests
Sometimes despite a gardener’s best efforts, insects, weeds and disease can invade the landscape. A healthy plant is better able to tolerate normal insect and disease infestations and is a gardener’s best defense against these problems. Monitor and manage problems as needed and as soon as they are discovered, using the most environmentally friendly methods.