3 Frequently Asked Questions About Gardening

Planting a garden in your backyard can seem daunting for the nature-lover who is just starting out. You don't know what to plant where, how often to water, how to care for your plants – it's all just a maze of uncertainty. The following paragraphs handle the most important questions asked by first-time gardeners, and can guide you to setting up a nature haven in your back or front yard. Remember, you don't need expanses of land to create a beautiful garden; whatever space you have is enough!

Which is the best soil for gardening?

You probably remember that pH levels determine levels of alkalinity or acidity in something. Low pH indicates high acidity while high pH indicates high alkalinity. Most plants thrive in neutral or nearly neutral soils (close to pH 7), but some have special needs. For instance, peas and peonies favour alkaline soils, while azaleas and blueberries favour acidic soils. Use a home soil testing kit to find your soil pH. You can neutralize pH by adding organic matter, acidify by adding garden sulphur, black tea leaves, coffee grounds or peat, or increase alkalinity by adding crushed oyster shells or limestone.

How frequently should I water my plants?

The thing to remember about watering is that less frequent, thorough watering is better than frequent, shallow watering. Shallow watering will make your plants develop shallow roots and they won't survive hard conditions like drought. Instead, go for deep watering about once weekly (more if it's very hot) that seeps to 6-12 inches below soil surface. For best results, reduce water pressure and water for longer, which allows water to go deep. Younger plants need more water than older ones so they can develop strong, deep roots. Mornings are the best times for watering, as leaving puddles on plants overnight can make the leaves start to rot. You can add mulch to help your plants retain water for longer in hot or sunny portions of the garden.

Which plants should I grow under shade?

If you already have trees in your garden space, you'll need to carefully consider what to place underneath. A spot is considered shady if it receives less than four hours of direct sunlight daily. Shady spots can be advantageous since the falling leaves make for great mulch and compost, and the shade keeps the soil hydrated for longer.

Talk to your nursery supplier about the best shady plants to grow in your region. As a guide, inject colour and life with easy-to-tend shade-lovers like Japanese maples, ferns, bergenia (elephant ears), rhododendrons, begonias, foxglove, impatiens, primrose and astilbes, which require just a bit of sun to thrive. Plant hydrangeas and hostas in the shadiest areas, as these don't need direct sun to thrive.

For more gardening tips or plant ideas, visit a company like Din San Nursery.