There are lots of classes, videos, and articles about gardening out there. But if you're new to the hobby, it can be confusing to know where to start and what is actually sound advice. This guide provides a comprehensive look at the basics of gardening. Whether it's trying to figure out which plants will thrive in the specific conditions of your backyard or how much water those veggies need to give you the tomato harvest of your dreams, we've got you covered. The following chapters also feature valuable, expert insight on the best tools to buy, how to successfully start seeds, and even simple design ideas for nearly every situation. If you're looking to become a better gardener, we're here to help!
Planning Your Garden
Before you purchase your first packet of seeds, you'll need to assess your gardening site. This includes determining how much sun you get and figuring out what USDA Zonal range you live in: both are critical in keeping your plants healthy and happy. In this chapter you'll also get definitions of common gardening terms, learn which tools deserve your hard-earned dollars, and even get design ideas for planning out your first garden space. We also cover some invaluable tips and techniques on things like removing sod and other tasks that every gardener should know how to do.
Soil is arguably the most important variable in gardening. If your soil isn't good, your garden won't ever be the best it can be. In this chapter you'll learn the basics of soil biology, which will help you figure out how to improve it, if needed. We'll also cover why you should test your soil before digging a single planting hole. Next you'll find tips on amending and composting, which can make the difference between a garden filled with sickly, yellow plants and a garden filled with gorgeous, lush plants.
The cheapest investment you can make when it comes to gardening is buying a packet of seeds. And if you follow some important steps, that packet of seeds can lead to big rewards (i.e., many new plants). To get the best results, you'll need to invest in some basic equipment, such as a light system and a heat mat. In this chapter, you'll find affordable options for all the essentials. Then you'll learn the proper techniques for sowing seeds, which depend largely on which types of plants you're looking to grow. Finally, you'll find information on the easiest varieties of plants to start from seed, from hardy perennials to flavorful herbs and vegetables.
Maintenance and Troubleshooting
If all goes right, with proper planning and planting, you'll start to see your new garden flourish quickly. But as the season progresses, you'll inevitably start to notice things going wrong. That could be weeds showing up uninvited, or a beetle chewing on the blossoms of your roses, or even a mysterious powder covering the leaves of your squash plants. This chapter covers all you'll need to know about caring for your plants, with tips on watering, fertilizing, and mulching. If pests or diseases strike, our experts will help you identify the problem, figure out the best solution for fixing it, and offer advice on preventing it from happening again.
Every gardener dreams of having a landscape filled with gorgeous plants. To achieve that, it's best to select varieties that are proven performers. The following articles highlight perennials, annuals, shrubs, and trees that are virtually foolproof. These options aren't demanding prima donnas but low-care beauties that require little from you to put on a show. Whether you need plants for sun or shade, you'll find an array of show-stoppers for any situation.