Dreaming of spring? Make this the year you finally get the garden of your dreams. Here are 10 easy ways to get more from your outdoor spaces through gardening.
Make a New Year's resolution list for your garden and fight spring fever. These 10 resolutions will make planning, planting, and harvesting your garden more enjoyable. Whether it's planning your own vegetable garden, creating your own compost, or incorporating easy herbs into your garden, it's one more step to a beautiful garden you will love.
You don't need acres of land to grow a plentiful supply of homegrown produce. In fact, you can grow enough to feed your family by gardening in containers on your porch, balcony, or deck. Tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, beans, and even squash thrive in pots and planters. Another way to add veggies to your garden is to place them in your landscape; edible landscaping remains a popular trend.
Herbs are beautiful, fragrant, and delicious. Adding culinary herbs, such as basil and cilantro to your meals is an easy way to amp up flavor without adding calories. Herbs love sunny spots and will grow almost anywhere. Try planting mint in a container, basil in a window box, and sage along a border.
Using a compost bin (or pile) serves two purposes: It allows you to recycle green material from your yard and home (weeds, grass clippings, table scraps). Plus you create a useful natural, organic fertilizer to nourish your garden.
Transform your yard into a personal haven. Create a sitting area in a corner of the yard, string up a hammock, or plant a fragrance garden. Then make time to relax with an early morning coffee or an afternoon snack. Spending time surrounded by nature will help keep you centered and balanced amidst your busy life. You'll get a little sun, perhaps spy a butterfly or bird, and start to develop inner peace.
If you have a blank slate yard space, draw up a master plan for how you envision it. Add elements to your yard that will enhance your life: a play structure for the kids, a spa for relaxing, a vegetable garden for fresh produce, backyard lighting for ambiance, and a path to connect it all. Landscaping a blank yard is simple if you think about it in sections or "rooms." You might not be able to build everything at once, but if you add one element to your yard each year, you'll have your dream yard in next to no time.
If you feel too exposed in your backyard (like you can see the street or into your neighbor's kitchen), then enclose a space in your yard to make it more private. Add a section of tall fencing to redirect the view. You can "plant" privacy by adding a tall hedge; columnar evergreens such as arborvitae will provide year-round privacy. You can even create a flowering screen using a grouping of containers with planted with tall plants or vines.
Think about how happy you are when you receive flowers. Well, you can grow your own and surprise yourself (and your friends) with beautiful bouquets all summer. Choose flowers that are especially good for cutting. Include perennials—such as daisies, coneflowers, peonies, and sunflowers—for reliable color every year. Annuals—such as zinnias—come in bright colors and bloom prolifically until frost. And flowering shrubs—like lilac and hydrangea—provide giant blooms for lush bouquets.
Great gardeners always have things to share. And what better way to be a good neighbor than to give plant divisions, share seedlings, or deliver compost. These gifts from the garden are free but will be cherished by your gardening friends.
Gardening can be an expensive hobby, but it doesn't have to be. You can grow plants from seed for just pennies. And containers and garden ornaments can be picked up for a song; recast salvage materials as pots and containers. Plus, you don't need to buy lots of expensive fertilizers and sprays—simply add homemade compost to nourish your garden.
Take digital photos of your garden throughout the year to document bloom times, color combinations, and top performing vegetables and flowers. Not only is it fun to post your photos online, you also can create a slideshow of summer garden highlights that will warm your heart during the winter months.