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Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Beginner Gardeners

BY: Melissa | Dec 11, 2018

Welcome to Gardening Essentials! This series serves as a how-to guide for beginner gardeners, with helpful tips and tools compiled by me, a 7-year gardening veteran. Beginner Gardening We all desire that Pinterest-worthy garden, but how do we actually achieve it? When I first started gardening, I spent days staging the ideal garden pic to show off my skills. As a strong believer in 'work smarter not harder,' I wanted to achieve the perfect garden with minimal effort, so I scrolled through endless feeds of totally crazy tricks. While most of these tricks required more effort than they're worth, I've compiled a list of common tricks and how to make them work for you. Now, let’s talk about how to make your garden a big “dill”.

Marigolds Scare Critters Away


In theory, yes, this works. What no one talks about, though, is the reason marigolds keep rabbits away—they stink. In an average 4’x4’ garden, you have to plant several flats of marigolds around the perimeter to make this hack work. Instead, consider planting onions or garlic: their scent keeps animals away and they are edible. I buy two bundles or seed packets of onions from the store, then plant them 1-inch apart around my 29’x18’ garden. They are easy to grow, require less watering, and are almost impossible to kill—just don’t step on them.  Before you stock up on onion or garlic seeds, take a peek at our Home Depot page for coupons.

Mulch Keeps Weeds Out


Mulch acts as a barrier to prevent weeds from growing as quickly. “As quickly” are the key words here. Even with mulch, weeds creep into your garden to photobomb an otherwise pristine pic. Before you mulch, lay down a layer or two of old newspaper or tarp to prevent weeds from growing at all. Once that layer is down, put a 1-inch layer of woodchip mulch over the newspaper to hold weeds at bay for months instead of weeks.

Watering The Leaves


Your plant is starting to look a little sad in the hot sun. The leaves are drooping and turning brown, so it’s natural to assume the leaves need water. On the contrary, it's actually the soil that needs water. If you water in a circle around the plants, the roots will grow out to the water source. A strong root system is a defining factor in how healthy your plants will be. I suggest using a watering can that simulates rainfall as opposed to a spout. This will coat the soil with just enough water and not flood the area. Before you buy always check out our Coupons page for the most up-to-date sales at Ace Hardware.

Bigger Is Always Better


A nice hot day and my lettuce plants are looking full—not always a good thing with leafy greens. Once the temperature starts to get into the 90’s, lettuce will bolt and turn bitter. If your lettuce is growing up instead of out this means it has bolted, a.k.a flowered. If this happens to you, go ahead and pull the plants and then reseed. Most lettuce has a fast maturity date, meaning you can replant it twice throughout most regions growing seasons.  I suggest reseeding lettuce at the end of July or August depending on where you live. Hot Tip: plant your lettuce in a partially shaded area to give the sensitive leaves a break from the sun. This helps hold off bolting and prolongs the life of the plant.

Plant Cucumbers In A Mound

cucumber While there is nothing wrong with using the mound method, we want our gardens to be “a big dill”. I opt for a wooden ladder for the cukes to climb up. This keeps dirt off them and makes the entire cucumber turn green—no weird yellow undersides from lack of sunlight. Also, this looks super cute and like it came straight from Pinterest. Try using our Hobby Lobby coupon for 40% off to save a few bucks. For more gardening tips and tricks, check out our previous post. And as always, keep an eye on Groupon Coupons for more savings.