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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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Make More Plants by Layering

There are lots of ways to make more of your favorite plants. But it doesn't get any simpler than layering.

Layering makes propagating many of your favorite shrubs, vines, and perennials a cinch. In fact, it's how many plants spread in nature -- and you might even find that some of the plants in your yard are already layering themselves.

Layering means you bend a branch down until it makes contact with the soil. Allow it to grow roots while it's still attached to the mother plant. Once it develops a strong, healthy root system, cut the branch from the main plant and transplant it.

You can improve your flower beds by planting cover crops; click here to learn how.

How to Layer Plants

Step 1: Pick a Healthy Stem Start the process by choosing a young shoot that's about 2 to 3 feet long and you can easily bend to the ground. (Vines, such as wisteria are perfect candidates for layering.)

Step 2: Prepare the Ground Because layering involves burying part of the stem, you'll have the best luck if you gently loosen the ground underneath the shoot you wish to layer.

Here's a hint: If your soil tends to dry out or crust over, add a handful of peat moss, compost, or other form of organic matter to it.

Step 3: Prepare the Shoot Pick a spot about halfway along the stem where a leaf meets the shoot. Carefully make a small cut at that point. Remove all the leaves on the top 12 inches or so of the stem.

Here's a hint: Speed up the rooting process by applying a small amount of rooting hormone to the cut.

Step 4: Bury it Pin down your shoot, making sure the cut spot makes contact with the soil. Once your shoot is secure, mound about 4 inches of soil over the cut part of the stem. Water it well.

Here's a hint: Gently bend up the end of the shoot so it's at a 90-degree angle to the ground. (Stake it to keep it this way.) This may speed up the rooting process.

Step 5: Be Patient Now's the hard part -- being patient. While some plants form roots more quickly than others, it generally takes about a year until your new plant has become well-rooted enough that you can separate it from the main plant.

Step 6: Transplant it Once your layer is well-rooted, carefully dig up the shoot, disturbing the roots as little as possible. Cut the rooted section off the main plant and transplant your layer in its new home.

Here's a hint: Keep the new layer well-watered the first couple of weeks after transplanting to help it become established more easily.


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