A swath of color in your yard

Gardens are a beautiful way to add color to your yard and attract beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. Your garden is the ideal place to stretch your green thumb and your creativity. Whether you're creating bursting flower beds or just accenting an elegant garden statue with a few well-trimmed shrubs, adding some variety to your yard will make it a welcoming place.

Types of Gardens

Flowerbeds are probably the easiest and most popular choice for gardening, but there are many other options available, like:

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  • Vegetable gardens - grow your own veggies for summer salads and suppers
  • Herb gardens - delicious seasonings for fresh dishes
  • Rock gardens - not in a hospitable climate? Create an artistic space with rocks and boulders
  • Water gardens - use ponds, rivers and waterfalls to make a soothing space
  • Zen gardens - take a minimalist approach with raked sand and strategic stones
  • English gardens - incorporate low hedges, flowerbeds, walkways, garden statues and garden seats for a landscaped oasis


Often called plant food, fertilizer is really food for your soil. It adds fresh supplies of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to encourage plant growth. The plants in lawns, flowerbeds and vegetable plots will slowly absorb all of these nutrients from the soil - to keep the greenery healthy and growing strong, you'll need to replace those missing nutrients. Fertilizer can fill the deficiencies, but it shouldn't be considered as a substitute for healthy soil.

When you're shopping for fertilizers, look for formulas that are specific to the plants in your garden. You'll find formulas for lawns, roses, trees and shrubs, bulbs and vegetables, and you'll get the best results if you match the product to the plant. One last word of caution - don't over-fertilize your plants. Follow the care instructions to prevent elevated levels of the nutrients, which can damage or burn your plants.

If you're looking for natural fertilizers, cow and sheep manure have long been relied on for their ability to balance the pH levels in soil, to retain moisture in soil and to prevent nutrients from leaching away. The organic material in natural fertilizers like manure also helps build the soil, making it healthier in the long run. Compost is another popular choice for natural fertilizer and is very cost-efficient.

Herbicides and Pesticides

Herbicides are chemicals used to kill unwanted plants in the garden like dandelions, nettles, purslane and crab grass. Pesticides are chemicals used to ward off or kill garden pests such as rodents and insects. Always use gloves and eye protection when applying any herbicide or pesticide and post warnings around the edges of your property to alert passersby of the chemicals. Be careful to keep your pets away from areas that have been treated with herbicides and pesticides.

When purchasing herbicides, be sure to read the label to determine which plants the product is safe for. In general, decorative flowers and shrubs require different pesticides than edible plants like fruits and vegetables. If you're using herbicides to control weeds in your vegetable garden, wash your harvest thoroughly before eating it.

A little routine maintenance combined with good soil nutrients can give you a garden you're proud to show off to friends and one you can enjoy all summer long.

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