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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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

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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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Landscape Ideas

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Tips for Taming a Slope

Reclaim lost ground and turn a frustrating slope into a dramatic asset with one of these ideas.

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    Everything in this slideshow

    • Build a Wall

      A retaining wall creates planting opportunities when you select construction materials that allow you to plant in nooks and crannies along the wall's surfaces. Sedums spill from spaces in a 4-foot-tall retaining wall made of dry-stacked salvaged concrete.

      Test Garden Tip: Other crevice-loving plants include creeping phlox, rock cress, thyme, hens-and-chicks, sweet alyssum, trailing lobelia, snow-in-summer, and candytuft.

    • Just Add Water

      A waterfall is the ultimate way to take advantage of a slope. A steep slope is an opportunity to create a dramatic, sheer curtain of water. You'll need electricity nearby to bring life to the water pump but a good electrician should be able to help provide the power.

    • Display Your Favorite Containers

      Take advantage of a change in grade to display your favorite potted plants on the outer edges of wide steps. Siting containers in well-traveled areas, such as entries, gives them greater impact.

    • Switchback Sensation

      Connect two levels with a curving stairway that minimizes the severity of the slope. Drought-resistant groundcovers and succulents prevent erosion on steep grades and make the journey more interesting.

    • Terrace It

      If one big wall won't do, several low walls with level terraces between may be the right solution. Consider paving a level to create a patio and a comfy seating area. An inviting midslope patio is a great place to sit and survey the rest of your garden.

    • Grow Natives

      Rocks and naturalistic plantings turn an eroding California hillside into a colorful oasis that blends with the surrounding desert habitat. Succulents such as Agave, Crassula, and Bulbine thrive here. Other good candidates for a dry hillside include Pennisetum, salvia, yarrow, and lamb’s-ear.

    • Plant It

      Plant roots are very efficient at anchoring loose soil on a slope. So turn a tough hill into a beautiful planting by selecting easy-care groundcovers that root into the bank wherever their stems touch soil. The dense mats they create will reduce erosion and weeds.

    • Deck the Hill

      Transform a steep slope into valuable living space by straddling it with a multilevel deck. The contrast between natural plantings and a deck is always striking.

      Test Garden Tip: Up the drama by building around an existing tree or planting one near the deck.

    • Make a Boulder Statement

      Nestle clusters of boulders into the soil. They anchor portions of the slope and add natural beauty. Arrange rocks into groups staggered informally for a natural look. Bury the bottom one-third to one-half of each large rock to stabilize it. Pack soil firmly around the rocks, and finish with plantings.

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      Step It Up

      Steps convert a slope from inaccessible to inviting. Wide steps that meander or zigzag up a steep slope are easier to climb than those that escalate rapidly.

      Test Garden Tip: Begin building at the base of your slope if you're not sure where to add your stairs. Try climbing the slope along several different paths until you find the most comfortable route.

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      Build a Babbling Brook

      A shallow slope is the perfect site for a burbling stream. Water can cascade down slopes that once seemed unmanageable, while controlling erosion and managing moisture levels.

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      Connect Activity Areas

      A dry-stack stone wall and mortared stone steps join a garden house and spa set at different levels in the landscape. Lush plantings soften the hardscape, add color and fragrance, and invite exploration.

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      Create a Colorful Cliff

      An abundance of spring bloomers turns towering terraces into a crazy quilt of cottage charm. Follow spring bulbs with summer- and fall-blooming perennials for extended bloom and season-long color.

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      Live It Up

      Nestle an outdoor living space into your hillside. Steps to a raised flagstone patio provide a great view of the rest of the garden. A trickling stream with a series of cascades creates soothing sounds for relaxation.

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      Weave a Textural Tapestry

      Create a sweeping swath of shrubs groundcovers for a low-maintenance slope solution. Most need trimming only once per year so you can almost literally plant them and forget them. 

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      Create a Private Getaway

      Colorful perennials and shrubs turn a utilitarian rock wall into a beautiful, naturalistic feature above an intimate retreat for two. Boulders support a border that includes Forest Pansy redbud, Japanese forestgrass, and lady's mantle.

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      Garden Room Galleries

      Take advantage of a long slope by dividing it into different levels. Here, wide terraces create planting spaces for individual garden rooms on each level. Stone steps allow for easy access between levels.

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      Box It In

      Use a slope to create garden art! Here, boxwood hedges create a visual masterpiece on a slope. The blue fescue between the hedges adds a fun contrast in form and color. Planting on the slope enables you to view the distinct planting pattern while enjoying a meal on the patio.

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      Next Slideshow Front Yard Flower Gardens

      Front Yard Flower Gardens

      Add curb appeal, brighten your entryway, and make your home more inviting with a beautiful front yard flower garden. Check out this collection of front yard flower garden ideas.
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