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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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Buying a Christmas Tree to Plant

So you've decided to buy a tree that you can plant after the holidays. Follow these steps for getting it in the ground.

Blue spruce makes a good living Christmas tree, and an impressive addition to a large yard.

Buying a potted evergreen to serve both as a Christmas tree and a yard tree is possible, though a bit of a challenge. Most trees do best if they are planted soon after purchase and during the cool months of autumn. But that doesn't stop gardeners from making this plan work just fine.

The key to success is timing. Purchase the tree as close to Christmas as possible, and keep in indoors for as brief a time as you can. It is also important to prepare a planting spot outdoors before the ground freezes so hard you can't dig.

See below for detailed instructions.

Find more tips on moving a tree.

Instructions

Dig a hole before the ground freezes. Fill it temporarily with mulch.

1. If you want a Christmas tree that can live in your yard, buy a ball-and-burlap or container tree. You can keep it indoors for 7 to 10 days if you give it a cool spot near a window. Choose a manageable size; root balls are heavy.

Choose a mild day to plant the tree.

2. In cold-winter climates, dig the planting hole in late fall, before the ground freezes. Make it twice as wide as the root ball will be. Then, fill the hole with mulch and protect the excavated soil with a tarp. When you buy the tree, place it in a garage or a shed for a few days to adjust to the warmer air. Display it in a watertight tub and place ice cubes on top of the root ball as needed to keep roots barely moist and cool.

Protect your tree with a wind screen during its first winter.

3. After Christmas, acclimate the tree to cooler air by placing it back in the garage or shed for a few days. On a mild day, place the tree into the hole. Remove the burlap. Backfill with excavated soil and tamp gently. Water deeply, then mulch heavily. In harsh climates, evergreens are vulnerable to wind damage during their first winter. Protect your tree with a screen such as the one shown, which is made with old pallets and draperies.

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