Often, we gardeners struggle with the simplest things. We aren’t sure how to arrange plants or we have trouble selecting plants that will thrive in our gardens. Here are a few tips to help anyone become a better gardener.

1. USE WHAT YOU HAVE. When selecting plants, be sure to use plants that will do well in YOUR garden’s conditions. Many times we go to the nursery and see a plant that we absolutely love and we buy it before thinking about where it will be placed in our garden. A lot of money and time is wasted doing this because plants get placed in areas that aren’t ideally suited for it and they struggle or eventually die. Thinking about where a plant will be placed is important! Is it east facing? If so, part-sun and full sun plants can be grown, even in the scorching summer sun. South or West facing? That means extremely hot summer afternoon sun and most areas are hard to keep moist. Many part sun plants will do fine during the winter and spring months, but burn during the summer. Northern exposure? Shade loving plants can be used in these areas. Consider watering needs — Do you have an irrigation system? Does the plant like to be evenly moist? Does it like dry conditions? If you will discipline yourself to knowing what the plants you love need to thrive, you will save a lot of time, money and aggravation.

2. KEEP A JOURNAL. Record things like where a plant came from, dates that you plant, divide and harvest. Write down pest problems and solutions, and times that plants flower. Reading over past notes is very handy and mistakes and problems can be avoided by reading over past notes.

3. CULTIVATE FRIENDS. Interacting with others who love plants and working in their gardens can provide you with new ideas, inspiration and allow you to swap plants with fellow gardeners and increase the diversity in your garden. Perennials need to be divided every 2 years and Bromeliads definitely need to be thinned out occasionally or they can take over a garden space! Memories of who gave me certain plants gives me real pleasure when I stroll through my garden.

4. MULCH. Top-dressing with good mulch at least 2 times a year improves a garden. It is a scientific fact. Mulch regulates temperature in the soil and retains moisture in our scorching summer heat. As it breaks down it provides nutrients to the plants as well.

5. ENJOY YOUR GARDEN — SPEND TIME THERE! The best fertilizer is the shadow of a gardener…..spending time in the garden digging and planting does something good for the soul. It relaxes us and allows us to feel connected with life. Enjoying views of the garden from inside is fine, but actually creating spaces outside where we can sit and relish our efforts is truly rewarding!

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