10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

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Summer Checklist

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

Drought! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Scarce water resources, especially in hard hit areas such as California and Texas, are making it almost impossible to maintain traditional style lawns. That's why many people are replacing their lawns with groundcovers and native plants. But for those who want a lush green lawn, here are some less-thirsty options.

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How to Improve Garden Soil

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Top Shade Perennials

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Landscape Ideas

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Popular in Gardening

Two-Pot Topiary

The key is a basket on a pole.

Double the flowersin your topiarywith this method.

This unique topiary system involves as much flower arranging as down-in-the-dirt gardening. When filled with plants, it resembles an old-world topiary pruned into a charming lollipop shape. You can combine nearly any type of plant in the topiary for indoor or outdoor use.

Find more ideas for window boxes and planters.


1. Insert the pole. Choose a large pot made of terra-cotta or plastic, or any other circular container that has a drainage hole in the bottom center. Pay attention to size; make sure that the pot is large enough to accommodate the circular metal-support grid. Because the topiary system is available in a variety of sizes, match the scale to the height and width of the pot. Once the pot is selected, insert the pole in the center.

2. Add support. Slide on the support grid. The support grid anchors the pole in place and holds the upper basket steady. Slide it down the pole and into the pot (it should fit snugly), bending the bottom wires inward if necessary.

3. Position the basket on the top of the pole, and attach it by tightening the nut at the bottom of the basket.

4. Plant the pot. Fill the pot with high-quality potting soil, and add the plants of your choice. (We used impatiens and German ivy.) Leave 1 to 1-1/2 inches of space between the rim of the pot and the soil surface for easy watering.

5. Add moss. Although you can simply place a pot or hanging basket directly in the wire basket, for a more textural look, line it with sphagnum moss or coconut fiber, shown here. The liner should extend all the way up the sides of the wire basket.

6. Add the water barrier. Hanging baskets lined with natural materials can dry out quickly. To conserve water, it's a good idea to add a square of plastic at the bottom. This piece was simply cut from a black plastic garbage bag.

7. Plant the basket. You can plant the upper basket in a variety of ways. The easiest method is to purchase a hanging basket and place it, pot and all, inside the wire basket. If the plastic pot doesn't fit well, remove the plant and place it directly in the lined wire basket, adding potting soil around the edges. Another idea is to fill the wire basket with potting soil and add annuals. For a fuller look, push several holes through the liner on the sides of the basket and insert an annual in each, packing soil tightly around the roots. Water thoroughly.

For a lush look instantly, opt for hanging baskets. You can plant them in the upper basket or the bottom pot. Before placing the plant in the upper wire basket, remove the hanging plant from its pot. Position it on top of the pole and push down, piercing the root ball through the middle. (This does little damage to the plant.)

These topiaries will look great practically anywhere. Anchor a collection of your tiered creations on a front step or patio. They're pretty in pairs, flanking an entrance or path to add a slightly formal note. Or you can even plunk a topiary in a flowerbed to give it instant structure and interest.

Topiary systems look great indoors, too. They can be filled with ferns, ivy, African violets, Philodendrons, begonias, and just about any other houseplant. For a display that will last for years, try a dried flower arrangement.

Water frequently. The upper basket dries out easily because it's exposed to the most air. Moisten daily in warm weather.

For even more color in the top basket, part the vining stems of a hanging plant and tuck in some taller-growing annuals, such as Vinca, geraniums, or salvia.


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