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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A No-Mow Backyard

You can keep your mower in the shed when you replace your lawn with these fast-growing, durable plants. Our planting plan also ensures color all season long.

This backyard garden is designed with two key features in mind: eliminate the lawn and add year-round beauty. The designer incorporated tough, reliable plants that look good even when the weather turns harsh. For details about each section of the garden, see the pages that follow.

Good Bones

A well-designed landscape has good "bones" -- elements that remain visible and attractive all year. In this case, the bones include a multicolor brick patio, a flagstone path, and an ornamental latticetop fence for background and privacy. A line of evergreen arborvitaes and a Washington hawthorn tree also look good in all four seasons.

Colorful Contrasts

The purple leaves of the barberry and bugleweed offer a nice contrast to surrounding flowers and green foliage. Northern sea oats provide nearly year-round interest.

Plant List: (A) Japanese barberry 'Bailtwo'. (B) Garden phlox 'David'. (C) Bugleweed 'Bronze Beauty'. (D) Northern sea oats. (E) Fountain grass 'Hameln'. (F) Blackberry lily. (G) Daylily 'Happy Returns'.

Plants of Note

Northern sea oats is one of several ornamental grasses included in this design. They provide nearly year-round interest and their height makes an attractive foil for shorter plants.

See also: The Beauty of Ornamental Grasses

Softening Hard Edges

Arborvitae and purple-flowered clematis 'Jackmanii' soften the hard look of the privacy fence. Phlox, hosta, and dwarf fountain grass soften the edge of the flagstone path.

Plant List: (J) Clematis 'Jackmanii'. (I) Summersweet 'Ruby Spice'. (K) Arborvitae 'Techny'. (B) Garden phlox 'David'. (D) Northern sea oats. (L) Rose 'Purple Pavement'. (H) Heart-leaf bergenia 'Winter Glow'. (F) Blackberry lily. (E) Fountain grass 'Hameln'. (G) Daylily 'Happy Returns'.

Plants of Note

'Jackmanii' clematis is a reliable vine that features large, velvety purple flowers and grows about 10 feet tall. 'Ruby Spice' summersweet is a good background plant as well. It grows 4 to 6 feet tall and offers fragrant pink flowers in midsummer and yellow foliage in fall.

Vertical Accent

A Washington hawthorn, which will grow about 20-25 feet tall, provides a vertical element for the design. And because it provides only light shade, many plants will do well underneath, including shade-lovers like hosta and sun-lovers like feather reed grass.

Plant List: (Q) Washington hawthorn. (S) Ninebark 'Monlo'. (P) Hosta 'Sum and Substance'. (N) Coralbells 'Cherries Jubilee'. (U) Toad lily 'Miyakaki'. (T) Hosta 'Great Expectations'. (L) Rose 'Purple Pavement'.

Plants of Note

Hostas are good space fillers for shade and semishade. Their large leaves add an interesting texture to the setting, especially when paired with the bladelike foliage of grasses and daylilies.

Foliage Stars

A varied sweep of perennials ensures that there are elements of interest even when not in bloom. Daylilies, hosta, and red-leaved coralbells provide a wonderful contrast of leaf color, shape, and size. Feather reed grass adds plumes that carry well beyond the first frost.

Plant List: (M) Golden carpet sedum. (N) Coralbells 'Jubilee'. (O) Feather reed grass 'Overdam'. (H) Heart-leaf bergenia 'Winter Glow'. (P) Hosta 'Sum and Substance'. (Q) Washington hawthorn. (N) Coralbells 'Cherry Jubilee'. (U) Toad lily 'Miyazaki'. (G) Daylily 'Happy Returns. (O) Feather reed grass "Overdam'. (B) Garden phlox 'David'.

Plants of Note

'Happy Returns' daylily is an offspring of the ever-popular 'Stella d'Oro' and has the same ability to bloom repeatedly. The difference: it has bright canary-yellow flowers instead of gold.

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