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10 Expert Gardening Tips for Beginners

Love to garden? These tips from The Family Handyman will help you be faster, cleaner, and more efficient.

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Gardening, different spring and summer flowers, gardening tools on garden table
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Starting a garden

As the weather warms up, you might be itching to fix up your boring lawn, but if you’ve never had a garden before it can be hard to know where to start. No worries, we’re here to help you start the colorful garden of your dreams. Follow these expert tips to get started. If you want your garden to serve a purpose, these are some of the easiest foods you can grow.

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Top view of woman taking notes in a small gardening shop
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Build a gardener’s portfolio

Keep tabs on your garden. Create a scrapbook using an inexpensive photo album and add your plant tags and sticks to it each season. Then, make it as detailed as you’d like by adding information as to where the plants were purchased and where the plant was located in your garden. Add your own artistic flair with sketches of your garden or photographs.

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Ready for gardening
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Create a no-stick shovel

Spray your favorite garden shovel with a silicone or Teflon lubricant to make shoveling a breeze. A good coating of this spray will make any type of soil slip right off the shovel without a mess. These container garden ideas will inspire you to create your own.

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Potted Plants On Shelf Against Wall
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Lighten those heavy pots

Take the strain out of lifting large planters and pots by filling the pot one-third to one-half full with packing peanuts. Be sure to place a piece of landscape fabric on top of the packing peanuts and then layer on your potting soil. To reduce the weight of the pot further, use a potting mix with lots of vermiculite and peat moss.

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When your work is your passion
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Transport your plants

Before your next trip to the local nursery, line the back of your car with a plastic tarp and place a small step ladder on top of the tarp. The slots between the rungs of the ladder serve as perfect compartments to protect your fragile plants during the drive home. You will no longer have to worry about spilled plants or a messy car! If your car is too small to fit a ladder, use recycled cardboard boxes.

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Rain gauge
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Easy-read rain gauge

Spruce up your rain gauge by adding a few drops of food coloring to the bottom. During the next rainfall, the water will combine with the dye and the water level will be bright red and easy to read.

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Watering fresh planted herbage.
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Restrict an aggressive plant

Prevent plants such as gooseneck loosestrife from taking over your garden by planting them in a plastic container. To ensure that these plants’ underground roots don’t quickly crowd your entire garden, cut out the bottom of with a knife—the roots can grown directly down into the soil.

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Close up of hand wearing gardening glove holding a new plant.
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Assist your root-bound plants

One woe associated with buying potting plants is that they are often root-bound. In other words, as the plant grows in the pot, the roots run out of room to grow—so they begin to form tight circles of roots in the pot. The problem is that these roots can prevent water and other essential nutrients from traveling to the leaves and the rest of the plant. For a quick fix, gently guide the roots outward using your fingers. If they are really tough, carefully make vertical cuts in the root-ball with a knife. By the way, here’s how to keep dogs and cats out of your garden if you don’t want them as your gardening buddies.

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Tulips buds
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Protect your bulbs

Sick of creatures munching on your just planted flower bulbs? Keep them out by staking netting over the bed of flowers. Come springtime, simply remove the netting or cut holes in the cloth and let the plants grow through. If weeds are a problem, try these 16 easy ways to kill weeds.

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Portable potting

Upgrade your wheelbarrow by fitting a piece of plywood to the back end with wood cleats. This creates a flat surface that is perfect for potting. Now you can wheel your soil and plants to the garden all in one easy trip.

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Beautiful and delicate pink tea roses in the garden on green bushes.
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Blemish-free roses

When planting roses, pruning is crucial to keep the center of the flower open, so sunshine can shine in. Careful pruning will keep the moisture out and will prevent black spots and other blights from forming.