At Home in the Garden: 3 Easy Tips for Getting Started

After a long winter, snowy winter in the city, I always look forward to the first signs of spring, the daffodils and tulips popping up in the parks and the leaves starting to come out on the trees. In years past when I had some outdoor space, I couldn't wait to start digging around in the garden.

If you've never had a garden before and are thinking about starting one this year, here are a few tips to get you started.

Growing season/ plant hardiness: It’s good to start with flowers, shrubs, trees and veggies that do well where in the area that you live. You don't want to plant water loving plants if you live in a dry climate. When you purchase plants or seeds, check out the tag that tells you the growing conditions and hardiness zone. You can also talk to someone at a plant nursery or garden shop to find out more information about your climate.

Proper Drainage/ Sunlight: Before you purchase your plants take a look at how many hours of direct, indirect sunlight you get. Notice how the sun moves around your house or apartment building. Most cold loving plants like pansies still need at least six hours of sunlight to thrive. If you don't get a lot of sunlight, don't fret, you can still put together an amazing garden with shade loving plants.

Whether you're planting in the ground or containers, plants need good drainage. Container gardens will dry out much faster than the plants in the ground so be sure to check them often for moisture. 

Start with Annuals: In gardening, an annual often refers to a plant grown outdoors in the spring and summer that survives for just for one growing season. Annuals are fairly easy to grow and provide instant color and texture in your garden. You can start with seeds, or small seedlings from a nursery. Once you feel comfortable with these, you can start adding perennials and shrubs which take longer to establish. 

Mulch: To cut down on the weeding of your garden, grab a bag of mulch and place around the base of your plants. Mulch also aids with temperature control and water retention, particularly for plants that need to survive through the winter.

Get Creative: There's no right or wrong way when it comes to mixing different flowers and plants in the garden. Grab a pen and paper and map out your garden ahead of time, determing which plants should go where. Be sure to pay attention to plant tags and seed packets for information on plant height and spacing. Feel free to mix and match and determine what works best in your garden. For dramatic color, grab a color wheel and try to find flowers that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Don't forget leafy greens like bright coleus and soft, silvery lambs ear which add texture and pattern to your garden.

Happy planting!

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