Lessons Learned by a Novice Gardener
Posted on Wednesday 12/8
The Lessons that have Turned Me Into an Online Nursery Expert
When I started my journey down the path of gardening, I was totally clueless as to what was what. I possessed a lot of enthusiasm backed up by a rudimentary knowledge of gardening, watering and weeding. Well, give credit where credit is due, I did know what a plant was.
After extensive reading on the internet, a few lawn and garden books, I felt that I had mastered some basics; after all, I now knew the difference between an annual and a perennial plant. I was loaded with information and started to plow ahead.
What NOT to do in Your Landscape Design
Being clueless about as to the requirement for maintaining a garden in my locale or proper landscape design, and that this new hobby may monopolize my limited free time, I made a lot of mistakes. Sun loving trees and shrubs were planted in too shady spot. I planted plants requiring too much maintenance. And last but least, not possessing a futuristic outlook as to how the plant would look at maturity.
Several years were spent fixing my 'mistakes', ripping out invasive vines, relocating massive shrubs that grew too close, and moving clumps of irises and daylilies across my yard, which gave me a valuable insight that I wish a garden expert had told me at the beginning of my journey.
Tips for Beginners for Better Landscape Design Results
It is in this light that I offer my humble advice for beginning gardeners:
- It is true, they grow. I read the plant tag and it stated that it would attain a height of 10 feet and 15 feet wide. I asked myself how could this sad little one-branch twig grow that large and anyway it would never get that big in my lifetime. Well, I was wrong! In a few years it attained the promised height and width, crowding out other plants. So remember, believe the labels and space plants accordingly.Plant Growth Patterns:
- Fewer is often Better: If one is good, more may not be better. I'm a sucker for deals, and couldn't resist a six-pack of summer squash for my developing vegetable garden. Those zucchini jokes are true. Not only did the enormous leaves turn much of the vegetable patch into a jungle, shading out the nearby peppers and beans, but no one could possibly eat all the foot-long squash that kept growing like, forgive the expression, weeds all summer long.
- Heed Warning Labels: Heed label warnings, particularly if it states "can be aggressive". You have been warned. At the beginning, I was fascinated by plants that reproduced with bionic power. Having a bare yard and freshly-dug beds, I wanted to fill the void fast. I planted 'Oriental Limelight', a tall spiky plant that has mottled yellow and green leaves that are colorful and fresh looking all summer. However, it is extremely hard to control with its runner roots and seeds it spews each spring. I will be trying to eradicate this from my yard until the day I die.
- Simplicity is the key: It's easy to go crazy when confronted with the thousands of choices in trees, shrubs, flowers and vegetables. I used to spend hours letting my fingers do the walking through garden catalogs and circling the scores of plants I wanted to try. Plant too many different plant species, your yard and flower beds can take up the appearance of a confusing hodgepodge. Consider planting a cluster of at least three or more of each variety of flowers. This will form a big, visible clump. And when installing a row of shrubs or trees limit the number of types to a handful, repeating some of them rather than going for endless variety.
- Start small and get to know an expert: True, those sprawling flower beds are beautiful; however, it can suck up your precious free time, what with weeding, watering and trimming off dead flowers. Limit the size of your beds until you know what you're getting into (I sure didn't). And avoid plants that require maintenance such as spraying or covering to prevent winter damage. Find a good garden center with helpful employees; ask lots of questions, even if they seem dumb. Most local plant experts are happy to share, and they're the ones who know which native plants will thrive in your area and which are troublesome.
One final bit of advice, RELAX-IT'S JUST a GARDEN!