Our Top 10 Garden Tips

Good gardening tips are essential to any healthy harvest. If you're looking for the most efficient way to enjoy your garden, here are 10 top garden tips to garden smarter, prettier, with more flavor, and with less expense.


1. Start Seeds. There's nothing more thrilling that to sow tiny seeds, then see them germinate and pop up out of the soil as small seedlings in a matter of days. Seed starting is a great gardening tip as a way to get kids involved in gardening. It's so easy -- all you need is potting soil, a vessel (or the ground), water, and seeds. Seed starting is also the most inexpensive way to raise plants.

2. Mulch! Adding a thick layer of mulch around your garden plants and landscaping shrubs and trees will cut weeding time to almost nil, making it a labor-saving gardening tip. Use whatever mulch you like or is readily available -- shredded cedar bark, pine needles, grass clippings, gravel or stone. All you need is a pretty, spreadable medium to place around the plants in your landscape or garden. Mulches made from plant material (bark, needles, clippings) will break down over time and can be refreshed with a top layer every couple of years.

Learn how to select and lay mulch.

3. Plant Fragrance. Flowers are beautiful just as they are, but why not add another dimension to your gardening experience? As a gardening tip, planting fragrant flowers and herbs means you'll be greeted with sweet perfume when you garden as well as beautiful flowers and foliage. The most fragrant perennial flowers include roses, peonies, and lilacs. Try perfumed annuals in containers; heliotrope, petunia, and alyssum all add scents. Tropical vines such as jasmine can add fragrance to a porch or patio.

4. Grow Herbs. Even if you don't have room for a vegetable garden, a simple container on a patio provides a spot to grow a lush herb garden that offers all the flavors of the world at your fingertips. Herbs are eager growers, can take a little neglect, and produce delicious edible leaves and flowers. Try a mixed container combination of three herbs that reflect your cooking tastes -- Mediterranean: basil, thyme, oregano; Asian: cilantro, lemon grass, Thai basil; or French: parsley, tarragon, rosemary.

See top herb varieties in our Plant Encyclopedia.

5. Add Tropicals. Another gardening tip? Add the lush feeling of the tropics to porches and patios with leafy, tropical foliage plants. Palms, Dracaena, and Sanseiveria all do well on shaded front porches, providing instant jungle ambiance to outdoor dining and seating spaces. Enjoy them all summer, then bring them indoors and place in every room. Foliage plants help cleanse the air of indoor toxins.

6. Survey Your Garden. Take 5 minutes a day to walk through your garden. You can keep an eye out for insect pests or disease and treat before it becomes a big deal. And as you stroll, deadhead (remove) faded blooms; this encourages plants to produce more flowers.

7. Plant Natives. Native perennials are species that are already adapted to the climate, rainfall, and soil in your region. These plants take less care than other perennials and will often do better than other types of perennials because they evolved in the area where you are planting them.

8. Cover up with Vines. Do you need a little backyard privacy? Or do you have an unsightly fence or blank garage side? A trellis is a great gardening idea: Aflowering vine creates a beautiful screen or cover up. Fast-growing annual vines include morning glory, sweet peas, and cup-and-saucer vine. Perennial vine varieties get bigger and better -- and last for years. Options include Clematis, honeysuckle vine, and trumpetcreeper vine.

9. Solve Lawn Problems with Groundcovers. If you want to mow less and enjoy your landscape more, a gardening tip is to remove turf in areas that it are struggling and replace with perennial groundcovers. Shady spots and areas below trees with shallow roots can be planted with a lush assortment of groundcovers such as Ajuga, Vinca, and Pachysandra.

10. Harvest Edibles from Your Landscape. Wouldn't it be wonderful to step out the door and harvest fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs from your front or backyard? You can with this gardening tip: Add a wide variety of beautiful edible plants. Try small-space shrub "Jellybean" blueberry, use strawberries as sidewalk edging plants, and add tiny-leaf 'Spicy Glove' basil to a window box or container.

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