Thursday, April 30, 2009

Simple gardening things I never learned in kindergarten

It's taken me years of trial and error to get some things right in the garden.....
I didn't grow up in a family that gardened....although my step-father now has a HUGE garden. He would sometimes have a small plot of vegetables in our backyard, but was never interested in flower gardening. I have very fond memories of my Granny's yard, and walking thru it as she described what was SHE had a green thumb. But I was too young to pay too much attention to the time I would have truly been interested in learning from her, she was gone to heaven. So as a young adult, it was a trial and error process. I remember pulling up a yard full of nut grass that someone had used like monkey grass and it had spread to cover almost the entire yard.....ewww..... I remember buying a home and eagerly waiting to see what spring would bring, and then deciding it was time to weed the flower beds, only to find out that I had been pulling out Louisiana phlox, mistaking it for weeds! A lone plant slipped thru and when I saw the pretty blue flowers and further examined the leaves, I discovered it was the same "weed" that I had cleared the bed of already.......sigh. Louisiana phlox is the most beautiful color blue flower, and one of my favorites now.
Anyway, I've learned a few things that I thought I'd pass on to any newbies that might need/want a little guidance. For any experienced gardeners, you'll find this blog post full of elementary gardening thoughts, that I'm certain you'll think are just "givens" in the world of gardening. But since I know from experience what it feels like to be a beginner, I thought I'd share.
First off, I'll say the gardening books, brochures and the internet are your best friends in learning how to garden. But take it a few steps at a time. I'm writing this post with the assumption that you have the foundational plants already in place as I have had done when it came to flower gardening in the homes I've lived in. That is a post in itself if you have no landscaping whatsoever already in place. Foundational landscaping is essential, not only for the beauty of your home, but in maintaining the soil levels around your foundation of your home. They keep the soil from washing away and causing foundation damage.
What I want to concentrate on is just placing a few perennials and annuals around the yard for beautification purposes.
So in trying to decide what to plant to make your yard look OH.SO.'s called curb appeal. You want your house to look from the street like it's well cared for, like it's an inviting place to come, especially if you are trying to sell. If you don't have your home on the market, my guess is that someone on your street does, and having your yard look nice reflects pride of ownership and WILL affect the kind of neighbors that you want to have living near you!
I will give you three steps to finding out what to plant in your yard for maximum curb appeal.
1) Take a drive.......which yards catch your attention? What do they have planted in their yards? Which colors draw your eye to the yard? Take some pics if you want and when you come home, you'll be able to remember what you saw that you liked, which flowerbed shapes you liked, what elements of design were used that you liked, etc. Chances are that if you see the same kinds of flowers flourishing over and over again, they may be a good choice for you. This means that they must be fairly hearty to your area and a good choice.
2) What kinds of light does the area you want to plant in get? Is it mostly in the shade or does it get full sun all day? There are differing needs for plants and you don't want to plant a shade loving plant in an area that gets full won't last long! Some different textures are good, too, like having some spikey plants and some larger leaf plants to contrast. Taller plants are good for the back border and shorter mounds of flowers are good for the front.
3) Plant for's better to have a large area of one kind/color of plant than to have five different types/colors of one plant all grouped you drove around, my guess is the places that were most appealing had large mounds of flowers that caught your attention. You can see that from the street, whereas having five different flowers/colors probably can't be seen from the street as well.
Well, I hope I haven't overwhelmed you....planting flowers does take some thought out planning. Without planning, you might be disappointed and lose a few dollars. But as I did, sometimes the trial and error of planting is an educational investment. I've spent a few dollars in my lifetime finding that something doesn't work well in my area, or is too high maintenance for me.....feel free to ask any questions if you want further help. These are just some very basic considerations to take into account when starting out gardening. It is a fun and beautiful hobby!


jenjen said...

What great tips Suzanne. Thank you! I love the idea of driving around and finding yards that you like. I have always looked in magazines and the problem is I like the flowers that grow in like California which wouldn't work here. So yards here would have plants that would grow here.

Thanks so much and have a wonderful day!


Stacey said...

You are so right on all counts. It was so hard for me to figure out what to grow in Edmond, OK after moving from Dallas. It just gets colder here in the winter and many things that are perennial there are annuals here.

Also, you have to know about the sun on your lot. Newbies will buy a plant that's labeled Sun...but it will croak right away on the west side of the house. Sheesh it's hot later in the summer.

Robin said...

Beginner here! **raising hand** Even though I am almost 40 years old, I never really got into gardening too much until we built this house. Now I have a whole list of ideas, but no money to make it! The last day that hubby and I were off together without the kids, we spent the entire day in Lowe's looking at all of their beautiful flowers and greenery! I could have spent $20,000 in there THAT DAY alone!

This year's focus has been on getting our vegetable garden started, so I hope next year to work on beautifying this place!


Robin :o)

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Good thoughts today!!! I love to drive around and see other people's handywork. I got some petunias today at Wal-Mart...$1.86 for a little planter with the six "dividers" in it...bought 3 of 'em for my planter out front. I am a BEGINNER gardener. :)

April said...

Great advice, Suzanne...I bet your gardens look AMAZING!

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne :)

That's the best advice I've ever read... Looking at other yards in your neighborhood should be on the cover of every gardening magazine. I think I'll do that here, because I'm in a quandry as to what I should plant here. Thank you :)


southerninspiration said...

Robin, you might try making friends with someone in the Garden club! They often have swaps or giveaways when they need to thin things out of their yards!! It's horrible to just throw it out when there are others who could use hand me downs....besides things that come from other people's yards are usually pretty hardy!


Buzzings of a Queen Bee! said...

Thank you for the advice...especially #3 about putting same colors together. That is a good one. Now if I could just turn my brown thumb into a green one...

Meredith said...

Great tips!! I struggle with gardening in my desert climate when my heart craves planting hydrangeas and spring bulbs!

By the way, I am Meredith from Tuesdays with Molly - thanks for stopping by and commenting on my girl's bed makeover!

Lisa said...

Girl, I think you could write a garden blog! Wonderful tips and great advice.

So blessed! said...

OMG....I don't know what happened, but I said I was going to keep trying to comment on your blog and low and behold...TODAY I COULD.
I wanted to thank you so much for the sweet award you gave me several days ago. That made my day. HUGS!

Domestic Designer said...

Good advice for everyone to remember! Thanks!

Twice as Nice said...

What a beautiful yard. I just love those orange flowers. I enjoy planting my flowers. I do them around Mother's Day. They say that is the best time where I live.
Thanks for going to Hobby Lobby for me. I am really hoping I can get that material but I think I'm too late. Seems to be the story of my life! HA!

Controlling My Chaos said...

Thankfully Peanut Head is in charge of the yard. My only contribution was the thousand or so tulip bulbs I've planted over the years.