Not all of us were born with a green thumb -- and even if you were, growing a vibrant, gorgeous garden can be tricky. A lot of factors go into making your garden grow and when things go wrong (which, as even the best gardeners know, they often do), it’s easy to feel disappointed with a less-than-perfect space. We’ve come up with some simple solutions to some of the most common gardening concerns. So don’t give up; read on to find a way to make your green space thrive.
Gardening problem #1
Not enough light
Not having enough light can be a major hurdle for many gardeners to overcome as they seek to maintain a gorgeous green space. The hard truth is, plants that need a lot of sun just won't be happy in the shade, and your only solution is to work with Mother Nature: Put sun-loving plants only where you get enough light and switch to shade-dwellers for everywhere else. This can be an adjustment if you had your heart set on certain plants, but there are lots of beautiful shade-lovers to choose from.
Sunlight and shade tips for popular plants:
- For partial shade try black snakeroot, foxglove, hardy geranium and Bergenia.
- For light shade try wild columbine, common bleeding heart, purple coneflower, daylilies and wild blue phlox.
- For medium shade try Forget-me-nots, Globeflower, Shooting star and Cardinal flower.
- For full shade try hosta (which comes in hundreds of stunning varieties), bloodroot, violets, foamflower and false Solomon's seal.
Gardening problem #2
Everyone knows that watering too little can make your plants unhappy, but so can watering too much. Too little water and your plants will dry up, possibly stunting growth and seed development. Over-watering can cause mold, disease and even attract garden pests. To avoid over- or under-watering your garden, follow these simple steps.
Rules to avoid over- or under-watering your garden:
- Don't give your garden a light sprinkle daily. Simply waving the hose around your yard isn't going to properly penetrate the soil, leaving your plants dry and under-watered.
- Do give your garden a more significant soak once or twice a week (depending on rainfall and how much sun you get).
- Moisture should penetrate five to six inches into the soil. This type of watering actually helps soil to retain water for several days so you don't have to be out there every day.
- If you are giving your space a good soak, resist the urge to water daily – your plants don't need to be drowned if you're watering properly.
Gardening problem #3
Too little space
Not having enough space is one of the most popular gardening concerns. If you have a small yard, or worse, no yard at all but still want to have plants and flowers around, there are a few ways to flex your green thumb. One great option for creating a garden out of minimal yard space is container gardening. Plant large pots or decorative urns with herbs, vegetables, flowers and grasses -- but choose plants that have similar water, soil and light requirements to make caring for your containers easier. Some eye-catching options for container plants include ornamental grasses, coleus, various herbs, ferns, coneflowers and English ivy. If you get a lot of sunlight, try planting tomatoes, squash, cucumber or even beans.
Gardening problem #4
Limited gardening time
Love to garden but you don't have time? This is another common problem when it comes to gardening, but don't give up hope. While no plants can be classified as "no-maintenance" (except maybe weeds), there are many low-maintenance plants available for gardeners who don't have a lot of time.
Check out some of our favorite low-maintenance plants:
- Coneflowers: These colorful, pretty plants do a great job of taking care of themselves and don't need a lot of attention other than deadheading (pinching off the dead flowers).
- Globe thistle: Known for the unique shape of its flower, globe thistles require almost no attention and don't require deadheading. They need sun but can survive in even poor quality soil.
- Hostas: When it comes to low-care perennials, hostas are about as minimal-maintenance as it gets. Simply fill a shady area with these pretty, leafy plants and watch them grow.
- Russian sage: If you have full sun, this plant will thrive without much work. The beautiful blue of the tiny blossoms that cover the plant will brighten up your yard with minimal effort.
- Astilbe: This colorful flowering perennial needs partial shade but will thrive and take over an area easily, making it an excellent ground cover (especially the dwarf varieties).
- Hydrangea: Hydrangeas are not only gorgeous but easy to maintain. The "Little Lamb" variety is smaller and more compact, making it a good choice for the space-conscious gardener.
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