“Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace,” May Sarton, the American poet, once said. Increasingly, younger generations are turning to gardening as a way to reconnect with nature, slow down their pace, and add beauty to their lives. A hobby that was once considered the mainstay of retirees, gardening is finding new fans in the young and old alike.
Starting a garden can be intimidating, especially for those who have dabbled before, full of hope, only to end up with small or dead plants on their hands. With practice, though, gardening with plants and shrubs, and designing a landscape, can be something that offers great pleasure and reward. Here are several tips for getting started.
Landscape Tips for Beginners
- Don’t jump into gardening without research. Every plant has unique needs, and what distinguishes a poor garden from a lush one is gardeners taking the time to understanding these needs, and plant accordingly. Pay attention to sunlight, water, spacing, and soil requirements.
- Look for variation. The benefit is two-fold. First, variation often has a pleasing, organic look to it that will prevent your landscaping from looking too planned. Second, if one plant types turns out to be too delicate and dies or withers, your overall garden will still be strong.
- Consider transitions and balance. Think about how varying plant heights will lead the eye, where a fountain will look best and not distract the eye or be overwhelmed by its surroundings, et cetera. You can balance a garden by varying shapes, colors and sizes.
Tips for Taking Care of Plants and Shrubs
- Pruning trees and shrubs doesn’t have to be hard. Always remove dead or diseased stems to cut down on insects and make room for healthy growth. For flowered shrubs, prune older shoots close to the ground, and prune right after flowering season so that you don’t decrease the number of blooms later on. For leafy shrubs, cut them back during the winter, and aim to restore an even shape.
- When you water your plants, try and water the soil, rather than the foliage, as that can encourage fungus growth. Keep in mind that, while constant water can be good for plants, many plants, once established, will only need watering in times of drought, so don’t just water them all indiscriminately.
- If you see signs of insects eating away, act at once, rather than waiting to see if they’ll go away. Without intervention they can bite your plant down to the roots, leaving you with nothing. If you can’t see which pest (or fungus) is the problem, bring a sample to your local garden center for advice.