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

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Landscape Ideas

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Plant Your Parking Strip

Tired of mowing your parking strip? Trade your turf for native plants -- easy-care beauties guaranteed to welcome wildlife and wow the neighborhood.

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    Everything in this slideshow

    • Make a great first impression by dressing up your parking strip -- that stretch of ground between the street and your sidewalk.

      Note: Check your municipality's rules for parking-strip plantings. Some areas have restrictions, such as height limits on plants.

    • A street-smart garden overflowing with colorful native plants is the perfect way to reduce mowing and add beauty to your front yard. Many native plants, such as the ones shown here, require less water, fertilizer, and pest control than their imported counterparts.

    • Mark It Out

      Begin by determining if you want to plant the entire parking strip or just a section. If you're not changing the entire area over to plantings, mark the edges of the new beds with spray paint, sand, or flour.

    • Remove the Sod

      Use a sod kicker or shovel to remove the turf from your planting bed. If you use a shovel or sod remover, you don't need to dig deeply -- just 3-4 inches under the soil should do it.

    • Loosen the Soil

      If you're cursed with clay or another type of hard soil, running a tiller through your new bed will make it easier to dig planting holes. If your soil is relatively loose, you won't need to till the ground.

    • Incorporate Compost

      Get your plants off to a great start by incorporating some compost into the ground. Work it evenly into the soil.

    • Arrange Your Plants

      Set your plants where you plan to add them before you start digging any holes. That way you can easily move varieties around.

    • Loosen the Roots

      If your plants are root-bound, meaning the roots are pushing up against the sides of the pot and are growing in circles, use your fingers or a trowel to loosen the root ball. Spread the roots out so they fan away from the plant.

    • Begin Planting

      Dig planting holes that are several inches wider than the diameter of the pot and about the same depth. Set plants into the ground so the soil in the pot is at ground level. Then fill in around the plant, covering the top of the root ball soil mass.

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      Take a Step Back

      Once all your plants are in the ground, take a step back and make sure you're happy with their placement. It's easier to shift plants before you water.

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      Mulch and Water Well

      After all plants are in place, add a 1- to 2-inch-deep layer of mulch. Choose an organic mulch such as shredded bark or pine needles to suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture, and enrich the ground as the material decomposes.

      Water plants thoroughly after mulching. You may need to water them weekly the first season; even drought-tolerant varieties need ample moisture while becoming established.

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      Enjoy Your Creation

      If you leave any grass around your bed, install edging to keep the turf from creeping in around your plants. Then, with the exception of an occasional weeding, watering, or deadheading, all you need to is sit back and relax as your parking strip bursts into bloom.

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      Next Slideshow How to Build a Raised Bed

      How to Build a Raised Bed

      Raised beds make growing any plant easier. Use these easy instructions to build your own raised beds.
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