It’s never too late to get your hands dirty beautifying your yard. And few things are more rewarding than watching your creation come alive and evolve through the seasons. So if you’re just getting started with gardening, we say, “Good for you!”
If you’ve just purchased a newly-built home, you have the proverbial blank slate – no yard at all. You can start from scratch (as in scratching in the soil), choosing exactly what you want in the way of landscaping. If you have an existing garden but are new to the hands-on process, we have more good news: you can make gardening as simple or complex as you desire.
These tips will help you make the most of your garden as well as your gardening experience:
- First, read up on the basic principles of landscape design. Even if you are not starting from scratch, these principles will help you see the big picture of your landscaping and evaluate any changes you want to make.
- Plant artificial grass as a foundational element. Natural grass lawns are a challenge (many would say, a pain), even for experienced gardeners. Live grass is needy beyond being a water guzzler, and it never looks the way you want. Smart gardeners recognize the multiple benefits of artificial grass, first among them: it’s a no-brainer for novices. You don’t have to do much of anything other than occasional simple spiff-up. Your life as a gardener is off to a green and glorious start.
- Start small so as not to overwhelm yourself.
- Focus on what you like. Colors, fragrances, veggies and fruits, attracting birds, bees, and butterflies . . . surround yourself with what you love, and you’ll love to spend time in your garden, whether tending or simply enjoying it.
- Choose plants that don’t ask too much from you. Drought tolerant plants offer double the value here, because they naturally require little to no maintenance and they are de rigueur for our California gardens these days. Native plants are easiest to grow, but when it comes to veggies, start with hybrids that are much more resistant to pests and diseases than heirloom varieties.
- You can grow veggies in a separate area, in raised beds, or intermingled with your flowers and shrubs. Think how proud you’ll be the first time you serve a dinner made with yummy, ultra-fresh ingredients from your own garden.
- Get ideas everywhere – online, visit Sunset’s home in Menlo Park, observe other people’s yards as you walk the dog around the neighborhood or visit elsewhere, visit local nurseries and chat up their professional staff.
- Become a student of best practices. The University of California has created an entire website dedicated to helping gardeners like you. For beginners, there is an entire list of helpful articles, on topics from “What's unique about gardening in California?” to managing pests and landscaping for fire protection. You can even ask specific questions to get one-on-one advice from their experts.
- If your goal is to create a sustainable garden, you’ll want to learn about organic gardening techniques.
- Finally, this video offers 10 clever tips you that may surprise you.
Remember that gardens are living organisms. They are always evolving, and that means they are always available for a change of mind or a change of heart. That said, remember too that trees, shrubs, and perennials take time to grow into their full size and beautiful potential. Give them room to do that, and stop to smell the roses (or the lilacs, or the lavender) every chance you get.