Gardening & Landscaping
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Beginner to Gardening

I just moved into my first home and am really looking forward to getting outside and working on the landscaping and gardening. I have almost zero experience with planting and gardening, minus a few house plants in the past (which never seemed to last). I want to learn as much as possible before spending a lot of money on new plants and flowers. Where would you suggest I find out more information as a start? Any recommend books for beginner gardeners? Any help would be appreciated!

Re: Beginner to Gardening

  • I'd do a combination of thing, including checking out what works for your neighbors, finding some books specific to your area regarding gardening, talking to people at your local nursery, seeing if there's a gardening group or ag extension in your area, etc.

    I tend to do my gardening/planting piecemeal so I'm never spending a ton at one time. You'll have more of a year-round experience, but each spring I get a few things here and there and work them into the landscape.

    GL. There are some gardening pros here who will have some specific tips for you.

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  • Definitely check out your neighbors landscaping. Not only is it a sure fire way to figure out the things that do well in your neighborhood's soil, but it's a great way to meet people.
  • image Dr.Loretta:

    I'd do a combination of thing, including checking out what works for your neighbors, finding some books specific to your area regarding gardening, talking to people at your local nursery, seeing if there's a gardening group or ag extension in your area, etc.

    I tend to do my gardening/planting piecemeal so I'm never spending a ton at one time. You'll have more of a year-round experience, but each spring I get a few things here and there and work them into the landscape.

    GL. There are some gardening pros here who will have some specific tips for you.

    This!

    Go to the library and find some books about perennials and native plants in your area.  This will give you a nice overview of lower maintenance options you have.

    Find a local garden club.   This was the best thing I did!  The experienced gardeners in my area know all the plant swaps and sales to go to.  Plus as each gardener needs to divide their perennials they give them away to other members for free (I've gotten so many new plants this way!). 

    Take your time.  Start by making some good beds, getting your soil tested, and putting in some nice edging.  Then slowly start adding in shrubs (for a good base) and plants. 

  • I do a little at a time, too.  Mostly because that's all I can afford, but also because I like making gradual improvements each year, rather than doing it all at once and then just working to keep it nice.  I usually have one main yard improvement project each spring, and (because I'm lazy and fairly broke) that usually drags on for a while, then I spend the rest of summer just trying to keep up with everything else.  I also have little clue what I'm doing, so I probably take the long way to get anything done as inexpensively as possibly, but still wind up with it looking great eventually.

    One year it was taking out some holly bushes, redoing that whole bed, including some expansion and edging with brick edgers, then starting a perennial garden in that space.  That's still a work in progress as I see which of my perennials make it and which don't.  Something comes and goes every year.  This year, I think a couple of things are getting split out.  Last year it was redoing the whole bed under my Japanese maple right in front of my picture window, so that I would have a nice space for the garden hose behind the tree, including a loose peastone drip area and pretty stepping stones to get back to it, plus ground cover over the whole area.

    As far as what to plant, I agree with PPs - check out what works well around your neighborhood, and don't be afraid to stop and chat with the like-minded gardeners you might see out working on their yards, talk to your local nursery staff, and do some research at the library or on-line.  In addition to that kind of stuff, I'm a trial and error kind of girl too - hence my perennial garden being an on-going work in progress.  I tend to just pick up whatever I think is pretty at the nursery, or whatever plants my friends are looking to get rid of and throw them in the ground to see how they do, at the rate of one or two new ones each season to replace whatever didn't make it from last year.  There have been successes and failures, and I'm getting there with the timing of having something in bloom all summer long.

    Good luck and have fun with it.  Gardening is so relaxing and rewarding for me, even though I'm totally still learning, I hope it is for you too.

  • Southern Living's Garden Book.....it tells your what's good for your zone, gives you great ideas and inspiration, tells you everything you could ever want to know or not know about plants in general.  It also has an amazing glossary of plants from A-Z.  It's like $25 and I use mine at least once a week.
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