I've been gardening a few years now. It's not much time, considering, but I've learned a lot in that amount of time. I had no idea gardening would be something that I would get into, but it's become one of my biggest passions. Personally, I love the quiet time to focus and care for what will provide me with so much beauty, but I also love to share that time with my kids and teach them too.
I focus on perennials plants with low maintenance. I also maintain a few raised garden beds from seed, with herbs, vegetables and fruit. I live in the city with a small yard, so I have to be very cognizant of what and where I place things. I am also very frugal when it comes to what and how much I spend, because it can become very costly very quickly.
Here are a few tips I have found to be the most useful and important in my perennial gardens. I hope you find some useful tips!
Decide what you want to plant
Some people like only flowers, green plants, evergreens, trees, etc.. Personally, I am not particularly biased, but I do avoid annual plants. Do you like the maintenance? Want fragrance, flowers, evergreens? I love visiting a local nursery, getting to know them, and asking all the questions I can think of. This is what helped me learn what I wanted in my garden.
Annual vs. perennial
Annual plants need to be planted every year (although some drop seeds and new plants will grow from that). Perennial plants will come back every year. Also, try to find local nurseries to find native plants that already thrive in your area.
Sun or shade
Some plants require full sun, others need partial sun, and then there are shade plants. There is often some room to mix it up a little, but the table typically knows what's best. However, for example, lilacs can be in full sun and also partial. Some partial sun plants can be in shade.
Watch your pets
If you have dogs, especially, you have to keep them away from your plants as much as possible. Cats aren't as bothersome or as brutal to gardens, but all the same, you want to ensure your plants can at least become established before allowing pets around. We go outside with our two large dogs and direct them where to go and where not to go.
Keep it simple
There are a million products and fancy things to add to your gardens to better help grow your plants. The thing is though, while some things do help, most of it isn't necessary. I do fertilize sometimes, but not often. Good pruning sheers are essential, just cut off the bad stuff if and when you see it. Gloves are nice sometimes, grab a watering can, and you're set to get started!
Make sure nothing stays too dry, but don't over-water. This is often where problems begin. Watering every morning or evening during the summer is helpful, but I can go a week during the summer without. In the PNW, I don't water in the winter or spring. You'll see your plants wilting or drying out, they're letting you know what is wrong and what is needed.
At the end of a plant's season (like tulips in April), cut them back after they've wilted. In the fall, most everything needs to be cut back to help and prepare for winter, then spring. It's quick and easy, so try not to neglect it. Ensure to pull weeds as they grow, it's so much easier than letting it become overgrown. Feel free to mulch around your plants, it helps keep weeds away, but it isn't completely necessary.
Give yourself grace + be patient
Many things you plant won't make it. Gardening is a learning curve, and there is so much information. I simply do research online or ask my local nursery for my specific needs when necessary, but just watching my plants from time to time and figuring out what is working and what isn't is most helpful. It takes time for plants to recover from a transplanting, to become established, to bloom and grow - be patient and you'll reap heavy rewards!
Find the clearance! Share with friends.
This is how I keep my gardens budget friendly. I always go right to the clearance racks, in fact, I will wait until the end of a season to score big on clearance plants. They may not look all that great, but they're just needing some TLC. Especially if you're looking at evergreen or deciduous, it will grow again all on its own. Don't throw that out!
So many plants can be split apart and shared. Take one lily bulb from a friends garden to put in your own, they will multiply and come back every year. Same with crocosmia and forget-me-nots. Roses can be propagated easily, along with many others. A little google search will guide you.
My favorite garden essentials + perennials
Tulips, daffodils, lilac bushes, roses, jasmine (climbing), wisteria (climbing), clematis (climbing), honeysuckle, lilies, crocosmia, etc... I also love to pick up a bag of native wildflower seeds and cover in between spaces and plants. Many of them come back too!