Backyard Horticulture for Beginners

According to the American Society For Horticultural Science, Horticulture is the art and science of plants. It combines aesthetics and knowledge to improve your outdoor environment. Harvard Health Publications says that gardening can actually improve your health. Here’s how to enjoy backyard gardening even if you don’t have a green thumb.

Grow Your Own Food

There’s something satisfying about being able to use the plants that you grow. First of all, there’s the health aspect.

A vegetable garden can encourage you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Harvesting your food at the right times gives you access to more nutrients.

You don’t have to have a large plot to grow fruits and vegetables. Salad greens don’t take up a lot of space and can be harvested throughout the growing season. Chop off the first sprouts to get microgreens for your salads and sandwiches. As leaf lettuce grows, you can remove the outer leaves as needed.

Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and provide an abundance of fruit. You’ll get lots of reward for minimal effort.

Herbs can be grown in containers. You can even cultivate them indoors or in a porch. They’re versatile, and you’ll enjoy the fresh flavor in a variety of dishes.

To get off on the right foot, start small and experiment. It helps to understand the difference between cool season and warm season crops. The University of Minnesota Extension has a handy chart that walks you through planting your first vegetable garden.

Grow Up

A sprawling garden can quickly become a snarled mess. Instead of using horizontal space, grow vines and tall plants up a trellis. This can provide privacy and shade. It can also dress up a bare wall or add interest to a deck.

HGTV has ideas for 15 plants for arches and pergolas. They include honeysuckle, clematis, wisteria, morning glory and golden hops. Many of these plants grow quickly and add fragrance to your yard.

Cultivate an Easy Garden

Trees and shrubs provide aesthetic interest and shade. Native trees don’t require much effort to maintain.

Plants that take up space and have lush greenery can create a focal point without much fuss. Hostas grow well along garden paths. They delineate space without requiring much maintenance.

Different varieties give you plenty of variation in design. You don’t have to stress about what plants look good together because hostas complement many other types of plantings. They also look great on their own.

Plants that provide ground cover work well under trees and in shady areas. They spread out to take over, so you don’t have to deal with weeding or thinning out individual plants. Corydalis is a fern-like plant that gets tiny flowers throughout its foliage.

It seeds itself. That’s one less thing that you have to worry about.

Mix Hard and Soft

Adding hardscape elements to a lawn or garden is an incredibly low-maintenance way to bring natural appeal to your yard. A few strategically placed boulders give the eye a place to rest. Plus, you never have to water or weed them.

Use stones to create pathways or steps between the lawn and garden. This cuts down on the number of plants that you’ll have to maintain. It also creates visual flow.

You can reduce lawn space by adding mulch or rocks around trees, gardens and pathways. Why would you want to do that? A smaller lawn is easier to maintain.

It requires less watering, fertilizing and weeding. As long as you have proper drainage, you can replace a lot of your soft garden areas with hardscapes. You won’t miss the plants when you have more time to enjoy your backyard at leisure.

A sculpture, stone or birdbath can provide a permanent focal point for the garden. Add a water feature to stimulate the senses without having to put in a lot of extra work.

A container garden creates a nice contrast of hard and soft elements. Group containers in similar hues together for a harmonized look. Many plants grow well in containers, and you don’t have to weed in between them. They’re easy to change out from season to season.

If you’re getting into horticulture, don’t make the practice harder than it has to be. Enjoy the process, which comes with many rewards but also involves some obstacles. Think of gardening as a long-term investment in your property and your sanity. Horticulture should be a way to enjoy your leisure time. It should not be a nasty chore.