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

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil ¿ but you don¿t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

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Top Shade Perennials

Shade plants are perfect for those tough spots in your yard. Learn about the best shade-loving perennials, including flowering shade perennials, partial shade perennials, and full-shade perennials.

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Landscape Ideas

Landscape ideas provide inspiration, and studies show that upgrading your landscape will add value to your home. Here are some great landscape ideas to improve your home's outward appeal.

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Backyard Landscaping Secrets

Use these six backyard landscaping secrets from garden designer Jon Carloftis to tackle -- and transform -- your yard.

Whether it's a big blank space or an outdoor oasis filled with furniture and gardening knickknacks, there are likely spots in your backyard that could use some landscaping touch-ups. But unless you've had time and budget to finesse it, this may prove difficult. Fortunately, there are easy-to-implement backyard landscaping secrets that can increase your space's beauty and usability.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 1: Hide Your Problems
Your backyard is often the spot where you and your family retreat. But if you're like most homeowners, it's also where you stash your garbage cans, build your compost pile, and find a spot for necessities like hoses and air conditioners. Those eyesores can actually turn out to be positive attributes. "The number one thing you should do is hide your problems," says Jon Carloftis, a landscape designer and author of several books including Beyond the Windowsill: Add Style to Your Home with the Beauty of Indoor Plants (Cool Springs Press, 2007). Problems may be loosely defined, too. For example, if privacy is an issue, you may want to install some beefy evergreens. Garbage cans can be hidden by a pretty stretch of trelliswork and an air-conditioner by a neatly trimmed hedge.

Get ideas for creating privacy in your yard.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 2: Create Focal Points
If your backyard is a big blank slate, it can feel overwhelming, Carloftis says. A good way to tackle it is to create focal points. "If you have a small yard and you want to make it look good, pick a spot at the end of your property and plant a tree that's going to be gorgeous year-round. A showstopper tree gives your eye a place to go when you go out the door -- plus it's an easy trick to make a small space feel larger," Carloftis says. For example, a tree that has four seasons of beauty -- like a multistem redbud -- is a great addition. In early spring, it's covered in beautiful reddish-pink flowers; in summer it has heart-shape leaves; in fall, it boasts colorful foliage; and in winter, the gray bark is structural.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 3: Create Outdoor Rooms
If you open your back door to nothingness, envision the rooms you could create with your outdoor space. That may mean a cooking space, a relaxing space, a play space, or even a retreat space. If you don't have a patio or a deck, start by grouping furniture where you think you'll use it most: outside the back door for a table and chairs, for example, or in a corner for a hammock. "Start out with a little area," Carloftis says. It's also good to try out different arrangements to see what best fits you and your family's needs before you commit to installing hardscape that's often difficult -- and expensive -- to move or remove.

See a landscape with great garden rooms.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 4: Craft Corners
Where to add flowers and shrubs to your landscape may be difficult to discern. Luckily, Carloftis has an easy backyard landscaping secret to get you started: Begin by marking the corners to those outdoor rooms you've created. For example, place a shrub at each corner of a patio, or a cluster of flowers at the entrance to a sitting area. It's a great way to add definition as well as color, and those corners can eventually morph into larger flowerbeds and borders.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 5: Address the Specifics
Adding focal points, shielding problems, and creating outdoor rooms may bring other to-dos into play in your backyard, Carloftis says. For example, if you've decided on a spot for a deck, you may realize you need sun protection. That, in turn, may prompt you to build an arbor. As your kids grow up, you may want to replace the playscape with raised beds. It's a good reminder to think of your backyard as an ever-changing, ever-adapting space that you can tailor to your family's needs.

Backyard Landscaping Secret No. 6: Add Vegetables
Carloftis is a big proponent of including a vegetable garden -- even a tiny one -- in every backyard. "Everybody needs to be connected with the earth," Carloftis says. "When they grow something and go out and eat it, it is really basic and wonderful and fulfilling." Think small: A little container of tomatoes and basil outside your kitchen door or a raised bed that your kids can help plan and plant is a good starting point. "You can learn a lot of life's lessons from growing even just one vegetable," Carloftis says.

Plan a vegetable garden!

Short on space? Grow vegetables in containers.

Easy Ideas for Landscape Design


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