Seven habits of highly effective gardening

By Staff
You can grow healthier lawns and beautiful flowers by following these seven habits of successful gardeners.
They will lead you down the garden path toward less maintenance and more time to enjoy a healthier, more beautiful landscape and garden.
1 Amend soil annually. Add 2 inches of peat moss or a peat moss/compost blend, and work it into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. Use peat moss to amend the soil when planting trees or gardens, adding a lawn or transplanting shrubs. The better your soil, the healthier your plants and the easier it will be to garden.
2 Water regularly and feed when necessary. Feel the soil to decide when your plants need more water. Fertilize when your plants need it – not just when you get around to it. Too much fertilizer causes as much harm as too little, resulting in a scorched or burned look to the foliage, or fast, rank growth more susceptible to insects and disease. Read and follow label instructions.
3 Mulch is a must. Mother Nature never intended soil to be naked. A mulch is like frosting on a cake – you could do without, but why would you want to? A few inches of an organic mulch will conserve moisture, block weeds, equalize soil temperature and slowly feed the plants.
4 Be picky about your plants. Choose varieties that offer more than one season of interest: spring flowering trees with interesting bark in the winter, or blooming shrubs with the added bonus of winter berries or autumn foliage color.
5 Compost. Nothing else does so much for so little. By layering green material (a source of nitrogen), such as grass clippings, weeds and pruning crumbs with brown material (a source of carbon), such as fallen leaves, peat moss or soil, you can create a rich, black compost. This mixture is perfect as an additive to poor soil or as a feeding mulch.
6 Walk your garden frequently. This will encourage you to deadhead, pick weeds, and appreciate the small details and tiny miracles that make gardening so satisfying.
7 Garden and learn. Avoid costly mistakes by reading, talking to other gardeners and sharing information. The education of a gardener can be just as enjoyable as the hobby itself. After all, they're both about growing.

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