Tips for Growing Your Own Home Garden
Keeping a garden cultivates more than just flowers — the activity of gardening is an excellent way to exercise, clear your mind, grow your own healthy foods, and transform your outdoor space into a more beautiful one. So slip on your gardening gloves, head outside, and start growing your own lush plants and vegetables.
Don’t know how to get started? First consider a few factors that go into the planning and design of a garden:
- Your climate. Your climate determines the types of plants that will grow best in your garden and the steps needed to take care of them. Do some research or speak with a professional landscaper to find out what plants are native to your area and any others hardy enough to survive the winter. If your region of the country has distinctive seasonal changes, choose plants that will peak at various seasons, so that your garden will be attractive all year long. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Hardiness Zone Map can help you determine which plants are best suited for your climate.
- Your taste. Not everyone’s idea of a dream garden is the same. Some people prefer flowering plants, while others get more satisfaction from a vegetable garden. Looking through gardening magazines or going on garden tours might help you define your vision.
- Your property. The size and shape of your garden will depend on the space you have to work with. Consider various areas around your yard and how much sun and shade they get. You can plant a garden in a shady area, but you will be limited to shade-loving plants. If your outdoor space is small, a container garden should work well.
After you have assessed your gardening needs and desires, consult professionals at a local nursery who can help you finalize your plan, sell you the plants you need, and instruct you on planting them.
4 Garden-Maintenance Musts
You will need to regularly maintain your garden to help it grow. Basic garden maintenance involves:
- Watering. Water is essential to the health of your garden. Find out the specific watering needs of your plants and establish a routine so that your garden will get the right amount.
- Weeding. Weeds are not only unpleasant to look at, but they can also zap moisture and nutrients from your plants. To control weed growth, you need to regularly weed your garden, making sure to remove the entire weed, especially the roots.
- Pruning and dead-heading. These steps involve removing dead branches and past-bloom flowers to encourage more blooms and keep your plants healthy for years to come. When you choose your plants, make sure you understand how to prune and dead-head them since improper maintenance can harm plants.
- Fertilizing. Depending on the quality of the soil in your garden, you might need to apply fertilizers. Consider having your soil tested by a professional who can recommend the right fertilizers and pesticides for your plants.
How to Stay Healthy and Safe in the Garden
Gardening is an enjoyable way to exercise your body and clear your mind, but there are also some health and safety issues you should address for a safe home garden:
- Tetanus booster shot. Check with your doctor to see if you need a tetanus booster shot. Tetanus is a risk if you cut or scratch yourself while working around soil.
- Protective gear. When you are working in your garden, you will need to protect yourself from sharp-edged equipment, chemicals such as pesticides, sun exposure, and insects. You should have a pair of gardening gloves, sunglasses, a broad brimmed hat, protective shoes, and knee pads if you will be bending a lot. If you plan on doing heavy lifting, a back brace can help protect your back. Also wear DEET-containing insect repellant and a sunscreen with SPF of 15 or higher to protect against mosquitoes, ticks, and the harmful rays of the sun.
- Use chemicals properly. When using pesticides, fertilizers, and other chemicals in your garden, be sure to read instructions and warning labels so that you will use them safely. Wear gloves when handling chemicals.
- Stay cool in the heat. When working in hot conditions, make sure to drink plenty of water, take breaks in shady areas, and watch for warning signs of heat-related illness, such as high temperature, headache, rapid heart rate, dizziness, nausea, and confusion. On hot, sunny days, do your gardening before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
- Consider allergies or asthma. Have allergies or asthma? Avoid plants that trigger your condition when designing your garden. Consider wearing a face mask to reduce your contact with allergens. Gardening in the evening can also help reduce allergy or asthma symptoms, since pollen concentration is generally lower in cooler, less sunny conditions.
One you start to experience the joy of gardening, it will be hard to resist the temptation to work outside whenever possible. Be sure to take the time to step back and appreciate the beautiful results of your labor, too.