Whether you fancy flowers, vegetables, or herbs, most gardeners pour their hearts and souls into their gardens. Unfortunately, there are times when nature attempts to thwart our efforts.  Important considerations in general gardening tips are plant selection, soil condition, climate, and so much more. What follows are some ways to avoid and overcome some of the obstacles of gardening, so that you can reflect upon your growing season with joy and success.

Tip 1 – Know Your Soil Type

When starting an in ground garden, it is a good idea to know what type of soil you are dealing with. Soil conditions can be sandy, mostly clay, silty, or peaty, (to name a few). Soil is unique and affects the success of your gardening efforts. You may need to include additives or reconsider certain plant selections to accommodate the conditions available to you. Many people will add topsoil when starting a garden. A general gardening tip to remember when adding topsoil is that it is imperative to mix it with the existing soil. Failure to do this will create a water barrier between the two different soil types.

Tip 2 – Test Your Soil pH

Unless you remember your high school chemistry, you may be wondering what is meant by “pH.” The pH indicates whether the soil is acidic or alkaline. When you look at the tags that come with your starter plants, they will specify the preferred pH. There are inexpensive soil testers you can purchase at most gardening centers to determine the pH of the soil. If the pH is wrong for the plant you have chosen, there are several additives to correct the problem. For instance, to lower the pH (make your soil more acidic) you can include a sulfur additive or peat moss. To create a more alkaline environment, crushed limestone will do the trick. The best general gardening tips start with knowing what will make your plants thrive from the roots on up.

Tip 3 – Research Your Climate Zone

An important general gardening tip is to find out your climate zone. Look online for the “USDA plant hardiness zone” to determine your zone based on your specific location. You would not want to invest in a lilac tree if you are in zone 8. It would be wise to keep terrain characteristics in mind as well. For example, if you reside in a valley, cold air will flow in from the mountains and settle like oil in water.

Tip 4 – Plant Selection

When choosing plants for your freshly-turned garden, there are many considerations to keep in mind. A plant from the nursery may look healthy and green, but the real story is in its roots. Take a moment to inspect their hardiness. After all, you are buying the whole plant. Also, examine the plant for insects. One infected plant could be a disaster for your entire garden.

Also, selecting suitable companion plants will enable a mutually beneficial relationship as they share nutrients, sunlight, and space. Companion plants can also enrich the taste of some vegetables or herbs and increase your yield. Planting the wrong plants next to each other could be harmful for your garden. For example, if you plant an artichoke next to squash, you’ll find that the artichoke will live up to its name and choke the life out of its neighbor. Artichokes are huge plants so place them in a large space with a climbing type plant like cucumbers.

Tip 5 – Protect Your Plants from Harmful Insects and Frost

This site would be remiss to exclude protection from pests and frost from this list of general gardening tips. Using one of the plant protection devices from Safegrow will allow you to plant earlier in the spring and protect your plant from insects and frost.

Aphids will invade nearly every kind of plant. They suck on the plant sap and spread disease. Neem oil is a natural repellent for this and many pests. Ladybugs are beneficial bugs that eat aphids as well as several other garden insects. They can be purchased and released into your garden. Slugs are often a problem as well. Before you begin pouring some noxious chemical onto your soil, consider eggshells. They not only deter slugs (and deer), but they add nutrients to your soil as well.

Tip 6 – Animals That Love Your Garden Too

Speaking of deer, pests of the animal variety can also be a nuisance. Birds, rabbits, deer, and moles can be problematic creatures for any garden. Of course, a fence or a greenhouse is the best defense. You may also try including animal repellant plants in your garden. For instance, a garlic barrier around your herbs or vegetables will deter smaller critters. Planting mint and lavender will ward off many rodents. Dill and rosemary dissuade deer. The possibilities for protection while keeping your garden beautiful are endless.

Tip 7 – Deciding on Garden Types

There are many options for your garden other than the traditional ground level garden. There is the popular raised bed garden, vertical gardens, greenhouse gardens, and container gardens (to name a few). I have even seen gardens constructed with PVC piping. A general gardening tip would be to consider the factors contributing to your decision such as space, financial investment, and what variety of plants you wish to grow.

Tip 8 – Plant Placement

Keeping all the prior gardening tips in mind, now you have gone and purchased your plants. When deciding where to place each plant, it is important to keep the plants in their pots and simply set them where you think you may want to put them. It can be harmful to the plant roots to be planted then dug up because you have changed your mind. So, I suggest you do a trial run of sorts prior to permanently planting.

Tip 9 – Watering Your Garden

A general gardening tip regarding watering is to water thoroughly. If only the surface is watered, it results in roots remaining at the surface rather than growing downward where they obtain most of their nutrients. Consider using a soaker hose so that the roots are not deprived of water.

Tip 10 – Rotate Your Plants

Each year you should rotate your plants. This will correct nutrient fluctuations from the prior year and result in a more desirable outcome whether they are edibles or ornamental.

While Mother Nature is all about bringing forth new life, she always seems to impart numerous challenges. You probably agree, but those challenges are half the fun of gardening! Use these general gardening tips and your efforts will be rewarded with beautiful flowers and landscaping as well as delicious fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Gardening can be a fun, creative, and relaxing pastime. Explore your inner organic artist and build yourself a garden.