25 Gardening Tips Every Gardener Should Know
These gardening tips are perfect for new gardeners looking to get started.
2. Prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilacs, and large-flower climbing roses immediately after the blooms fade. They set their flower buds in autumn on last year’s growth. If you prune them in fall or winter, you remove next spring’s flower buds.
4. Perennials generally need three years to achieve mature growth. Remember the adage that they “sleep, creep, and leap” over the three-year period.
5. Learn how long your growing season is — your last frost in spring and first frost in fall — so you can start some plants inside or avoid growing them.
7. Grow vegetables in a location that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Most vegetables need full sun to perform well. If you have some shade, try growing cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, and cabbage.
8. The best approaches to controlling weeds in the garden are hand-weeding and hoeing. Avoid deep hoeing or cultivating that can bring weed seeds to the soil’s surface. Weed early and often so weeds don’t go to seed. Use mulch to smother and prevent annual weeds.
9. Hostas don’t need to be divided unless you want to rejuvenate an old plant or increase the numbers you have, or because you simply prefer the look of single plants.
Some top panicle varieties include ‘Limelight’, Little Lime, Vanilla Strawberry, and Bombshell.
11. Don’t clean up everything in your garden in fall. Leave ornamental grasses for beauty and the seed heads of perennials such as coneflowers to feed the birds. Avoid cutting back marginally hardy perennials, such as garden mums, to increase their chances of surviving a harsh winter.
13. Plant spring-blooming bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths, in the fall before the ground freezes. In general, place the bulb in a hole that’s two to three times the depth of the bulb.
14. Deadhead spent flowers on spring-blooming bulbs so the plants send energy to the bulbs instead of into making seeds. Leave the foliage until it turns brown and can be removed with a gentle tug. The leaves store nutrients needed for the bulb to bloom the following year. Braiding or tying the leaves is not recommended because it reduces the amount of light to the leaf surfaces.
17. If your rhubarb sends up flower stalks, remove them so the plant will focus on foliage production, not seed production.
18. When transplanting container-grown plants, dig a hole larger than the soil ball of the plant to aid with root establishment.
19. Mound your potato plants deep under the soil and store harvested potatoes in complete darkness. Exposure to light turns the skin of potatoes green, an indication that the potato has produced a colorless alkaloid called solanine, a bitter-tasting toxin that, consumed in large quantities, can cause illness. Cut away any green portions or sprouts on potatoes to avoid the problem.
20. Most in-ground garden plants grow best with 1 to 2 inches of water per week. If not enough rain falls, water deeply once a week instead of watering lightly daily. Frequent, shallow watering only moistens the top layer of soil and encourages the plant’s roots to move there instead of growing deeper.
22. Avoid digging or planting in wet soil; working it damages the soil structure. Wait until the soil is crumbly and no longer forms a ball in your hand (it doesn’t have to be bone-dry) to till or dig.
23. Understand your soil’s drainage. Roots need oxygen, and if your soil is consistently wet, there are no air pockets for the roots to thrive. Many plants prefer well-drained soil, so amend your soil with organic materials to improve the soil quality.
25. The roots of walnut trees produce a substance called juglone that is toxic to many sun-loving garden plants, including tomatoes and potatoes. (Black walnuts do not harm many shade-loving plants.) The toxic zone from a mature tree can be 50-80 feet away from the trunk. And the juglone chemical can get into your compost if you compost walnut leaves or nuts.