Ideas & Inspiration
Discover 10 Do's and 10 Don'ts for Your Garden this Year
Gardening well means learning from history, trusting the mystery of the future, and learning the best way to approach problems that we encounter in the journey, according to Daryl Beyers, gardening instructor at the New York Botanical Garden, and author of “The New Gardener’s Handbook: Grow a Beautiful & Bountiful Garden,” (Timber Press).
“Gardening is supposed to be fun," Beyers says. "It’s more relaxing and enjoyable when you feel like you know what you’re doing." This year, try new tips and techniques for your best gardening year.
To level set, check out the video Top 5 Gardening Tips for Rookie Green Thumbs and read on for Beyers' Top 10 Do's and Top 10 Don'ts for Your Garden.
1. Do: Amend your soil with organic compost. Feed plant roots with a layer of compost. Spring is the best time because that's when roots are growing.
2. Do: Aerate the lawn. Aerating is the process of punching holes in your lawn to allow water and nutrients to quickly reach the roots. Rent an aerator from The Home Depot Tool Rental and push it across the lawn. Aerate when your lawn is actively growing, not when it’s dormant. Learn more in this video.
3. Do: Feature container plants with flowers on your porch and in your yard. Add instant color in your landscape with planters filled with annuals. Get more container garden inspiration .
4. Do: Ensure an ever-blooming garden when you purchase and plant flowers every two weeks. If you plant perennials, you'll have consistent blooms throughout the season for many years.
5. Fertilize hedges after pruning. Pruning is beneficial, but it can stress plants. Give shrubs a dose of a balanced organic fertilizer to help them grow.
6. Apply a layer of mulch to exposed ground to suppress weeds. Bare ground is an invitation to weeds, Beyers says. A blanket of mulch like shredded bark or pine straw will make it difficult for weeds to flourish. Mulch gives a tidy look to a garden bed, too.
7. Do: Re-edge your beds mid-season. And speaking of tidy, edging beds is always a good call. Mid-season, you’ll feel like you got a brand-new garden. Install permanent edging, and you’ll never manually edge again. Learn about the best edging material for your landscape.
8. Do: Apply an iron supplement to evergreens that turn yellow. After a stressful winter, plants like boxwoods and conifers can look yellowed-out. First step to fixing this is to give them a dose of an iron supplement like Ironite.
9. Do: Pre-treat plants that are susceptible to fungus, like peonies and roses, with fungicide. Inoculate plants before they have leaves and form buds with a fungicide. You can't cure fungus damage, but you can prevent it, Beyers says.
10. Do: Keep your tools sharp and clean. Working with sharp tools is important. Try this project to keep your garden tools clean: fill a metal bucket with sand and pour in linseed oil. Rinse off tools, plunge into bucket several times, wipe and dry.
1. Don’t: Till your soil. In the vegetable garden, when you start with good organic soil, you don't need to till it. Remember that soil is a living environment, and tilling turns the living environment upside down. The best advice is to loosen the soil, but don’t turn it. Beyers likes to use a scuffle hoe to loosen soil and fluff mulch.
2. Don’t: shear shrubs into mushroom shapes. This popular shape interferes with air flow to the lower branches of the shrub. Learn to prune for plant health and aesthetics by opening up the plant for better air flow and removing dead and diseased branches.
3. Don’t: Pile mulch against tree trunks. This is called a mulch "volcano." Keep the base of the trunk clear so air, light and water can reach the soil. Mulch piled too high on a tree trunk can lead to rotting.
4. Don’t: Spray insecticides unless you see insects and identify them as pests. Insecticides are not preventative, and your pest may turn out to be a beneficial. Identify insects with the problem solver tool.
5. Don’t: Prune a tree or shrub in bloom. Pruning creates stress. Wait until the shrub is finished blooming, or better yet, when it’s dormant. Know how to prune a tree.
6. Don’t: Rake up grass clippings. Grass clippings add nutrients back to the soil. Buy a mulching mower to make the job easier.
7. Don’t: Reuse last season’s container soil. After nourishing annuals for a long season, potting mix can be nutritionally depleted. Add spent soil to the compost bin or dump it in a flower bed. Fill your containers with fresh potting mix in spring. When you use good quality potting mix, you don't need to supplement, but if you want to, add extras like organic compost and perlite.
8. Don’t: Neglect to weed in early spring. Weed early and weed often in spring and, before high summer, you should have weeds under control. Learn more about weeds.
9. Don’t: Plant invasive plants. You may be surprised on what’s on the invasive list. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for its invasive plants list. When you choose a native over an invasive, you're on your way to putting the right plant in the right place.
10. Don’t: Use synthetic fertilizers on garden beds. In garden beds, Beyers recommends using organic amendment techniques to improve the soil. Learn more about organic gardening.