Five Easy Steps to a Fabulous Garden

Nationally known gardening expert Melinda Myers provides a step-by-step plan to ensure success in the garden this season.

Invest a bit of time and effort into creating the best garden yet. “With a bit of planning and some effort early in the season gardeners can have a big impact on their gardens that they’ll benefit from throughout the season and for years to come,” states gardening expert, TV/radio host and author Melinda Myers.

Myers provided five easy steps to get gardens off to a great start this year and to keep them looking good for years to come.

Start with a plan – It’s just like making a grocery list before going shopping. No gardener, like a hungry shopper, can resist that bargain or special treat and for the gardener that is usually a cool new or unusual plant variety. Purchasing plants with a planting space and purpose in mind can save money and reduce long-term maintenance needs.

Select the right plant for the place and purpose. Make sure the plants can tolerate the temperature extremes, soil conditions, moisture, and sunlight in the given landscape. And give those young plants room to grow and reach their full size without having to do excess pruning.

Dig in and prepare the soil before planting. Healthy soil is the foundation of a beautiful and productive garden. Work 2 to 4 inches of organic matter into the top 12 inches of garden soil. It improves drainage in heavy clay soil and water holding ability of sandy and rocky soils. Add a low nitrogen slow release fertilizer, like Milorganite, at the same time. As the microorganisms break down, the fertilizer releases the nutrients over a long period of time. Better for the plants and less work for the gardener.

Provide proper care. A healthy plant is better looking, more resistant to insect and diseases, and requires less corrective care. Water thoroughly and only when needed. Reduce workload, save money on the water bill, and be kind to the environment by collecting and using rainwater. And mulch the soil around plants with shredded leaves, evergreen needles, or woodchips to help conserve water, reduce weeds and improve the soil as it decomposes.

Manage pests in harmony with the environment. Sometimes despite a gardeners’ best efforts, insects, weeds and disease can invade the landscape. A healthy plant is better able to tolerate normal insect and disease infestations and is a gardeners’ best defense against these problems. Monitor and manage problems as needed and as soon as they are discovered, using the most environmentally friendly methods.

And most importantly relax and have fun in the garden!

Gardening expert, TV host and author Melinda Myers has 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment segments which air on TV and radio stations throughout the U.S. She is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine, hosted “The Plant Doctor” radio program for over 20 years as well as Great Lakes Gardener on PBS. Melinda has a master’s degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and was a horticulture instructor with tenure. Myers’ web site is www.melindamyers.com