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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How to Espalier

Espalier, the art of training a tree or shrub against a wall, is one way to enhance a courtyard wall or other exterior surface.

Espalier is the term used to describe the process of training trees, shrubs, and woody vines against a flat surface, such as a wall. You can also train them to a freestanding fence or trellis.

To espalier, prune to create a main vertical stem, then train the side branches to achieve the desired shape. Depending on the plant, this can take a year or two to establish and requires regular care. Thereafter, an espalier requires only light pruning to hold its shape.

Start your espalier with bareroot trees; here's how to plant them.

Instructions

Step 1: Plan your pattern. Espalier can be used to produce a variety of patterns. Fruit trees are often grown horizontally (diagram A) to maximize fruit set. Or, the branches can be turned up (B and C) to produce a more compact pattern. For quick coverage of long walls, consider planting several trees and training them into a Belgian fence pattern (D).

Step 2: Choose a location. Any solid wall will do as long as there is enough light for the plant you want and room to plant. You can also use a container, provided it is large enough to hold the plant when it is mature.

Step 3: Choose the plant. Most plants can be espaliered, but those with naturally spreading branches, such as apple, pear, quince, and camellia, work best. Look for a plant that already has a start on the branching pattern you want. Make sure the plant is suitable for the location.

Step 4: Prepare the support. Run wires between nails set in the wall or posts set in the ground to create three horizontal lines. Wire isn't necessary for vertical branches; they will grow that way naturally. Use heavy-gauge wire that can resist the pull of the branches as they try to grow toward the sun.

Step 5: Plant the tree or shrub. Set the plant about a foot in front of the structure that will support it. Position the plant so that at least two of the strongest branches run in the direction of the wires.

Step 6: Train the branches. Remove all but two shoots on each branch. Attach the remaining shoots to the wires with soft ties.

As the central trunk grows, keep removing side shoots. When the trunk reaches the next wire up, allow two side shoots to develop (remove the rest) and attach them to the wires.

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