Those with beautiful lush gardens are often said to have a "green thumb". Their yards are frequently subjects of neighbors' envy, especially if those neighbors have a track record of gardening failures. However, there's very little mystery to achieving success with your garden – it's all a combination of being informed and diligent.
That's right – you might have created an awe-inspiring garden, but without constant work every season, year-round, the plants and flowers won't survive long. It's this need for constant maintenance that makes many yard owners opt for a lawn that's as simplistic as possible – neatly trimmed grass and perhaps a few flowers spread throughout.
Those with larger lawns and money to spare will tend to hire their own gardener, tasked with caring for the flora around the home on a daily basis. Needless to say, such an expense is beyond the reach of your average home owner – having a skillful gardener on your payroll is costly. Even those who can afford it sometimes prefer to save the money by learning the tricks of the trade themselves, especially if they spend a good amount of time at home. Let's go over the basics of a successful garden, starting with the most prominent member of the botanical family – trees.
Trimming trees – knowing the difference between too much and too little
Before delving deeper into the specifics, let's get one thing out of the way: trees are alive. While it sounds like a new age slogan, it's actually a proven fact – trees are, in their own special kind of way, living entities. Sure, they might not be moving around barking or striking up a conversation with you, but that doesn't quite make them inanimate objects.
Why is this important? Far too often, people tend to think of trees as a piece of decor, and their actions reflect this. When trimming trees, try to think of it as helping someone trim their nails – if you're callous about it, you can injure the person. Trees are no different in this regard, in that overzealous trimming can cause serious injury to a tree. Therefore, always look to balance your sense of aesthetics with the tree's best interests.
Okay, this might be taking on a hippie-esque tone, so let's get down to business. The reasons for pruning trees are usually split between the seasons: in the winter, you trim trees to stimulate spring growth, whereas during the summer, you trim for aesthetic and practical purposes – cutting off dead branches, controlling the growth of the tree and its branches and so forth. So, what are some general guidelines to follow?
- Winter and early spring is when you want to be trimming your trees. A tree is least likely to be damaged by pruning during its dormant season, and any pruning when it's 'awake' should be done with a clear reason, which brings us to...
- Always have a good reason for trimming. Trimming for aesthetics is fine, but only up to a certain point. If you try to alter a tree's shape so you can turn it into eye candy, it can and will become hurt beyond repair. The size of the branch being trimmed also plays a big role – the larger the branch, the more damage pruning causes to the tree.
- Be diligent with your pruning. If there's a branch that's threatening to fall off, you'll need to deal with it as soon as possible. Similarly, if you need to remove diseased branches, any waiting could cause the infection to spread.
- Know when the job is too much for you. While hiring a tree service can sometimes be a needless expense, at other times it might be the only way to trim a tree without endangering it, and yourself as well(more on this later).
Wowing people with your flower garden
Flower gardens have the potential to be an amazing sight, but they can also make someone wish they were looking at concrete. It's not just about having the know-how – you will have to make a decision to maintain your garden on a regular basis, and then stick to it. It also helps to plan out your garden beforehand, rather than just adding flowers to it and seeing how things turn out. Some helpful pointers:
- Try to make a list of the flowers and plants you'd like to have in your garden, and then research whether these can thrive in your climate. Some plants simply aren't cut out for certain types of weather, meaning that this step can save you a lot of frustration early on.
- Familiarize yourself with the quality of your soil. If you have no clue how fertile your garden is, consider calling in a professional for assessment. They will check the humidity and amount of nutrients, as well as the amount of pests inhabiting it. Before your garden can flourish, the soil might need to be fertilized or aerated, and pest control might also be necessary.
- Get ready for regular watering, but don't go overboard. Pretty much everyone knows that, save for cactuses, most plants need a steady supply of water to survive. On the other hand, too much water will oversaturate the soil, which brings about a host of problems. While there are numerous soil and plant-specific factors to consider, a deep weekly watering that adds an inch of water throughout is generally considered a good medium.
- Know whether you will plant seeds or already-grown plants. Growing your flowers from seeds is more rewarding, but also considerably more difficult, both in terms of effort and knowledge. If you'd like to fast-forward things a bit, consider buying flowers that you can transplant into your garden, although this is a bit more expensive. Similarly, if your soil is of a poor quality, you might need to add sod to the surface to have greater success.
Knowing when to hire professional tree trimmers
The height of the branches that need to be trimmed is the most important consideration here. Most DIY trimmers who prune high branches do so with the help of a ladder – this is obviously dangerous and can easily cause a nasty fall. Size also plays an important part – you won't have much control over the falling trajectory of large branches, meaning you risk injury to yourself or others, as well as any surrounding property. Know when to hire professional tree trimmers.
There's plenty of companies offering tree service, so it helps knowing what to look for. The company you are hiring should employ certified arborists that are well-equipped and use appropriate protective gear. Make sure they are insured so that you aren't financially responsible for any damage their work can cause. Even if all these are covered, you should still try and get in touch with some of their previous clients and inquire about the quality of work. Also, the tree service company should give you an estimate of expenses and describe every step of the process to you – if they can't do that, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
Special thanks to my Dad, who helped me with the tree trimming information.