Hacks imply a lot of different things, but they generally deal with ways to save money, time, and energy. If you’re starting a new garden — whether you’re an experienced gardener or a newbie — you might be struggling on all three of those fronts. Check out our top 5 garden hacks to get your garden started, using tried-and-true tips and tricks to make it easier, faster, and more affordable.
1. Start a compost pile. Every successful garden starts with good, healthy soil teeming with micronutrients. And every successful garden requires a regular schedule of amending the soil to keep it alive and thriving. Compost is a key, and you can either buy it or make it. Because making it is literally free, it’s a great hack for those with tight budgets. Kitchen scraps, garden clippings, and manure all work together to create valuable compost to keep your soil going.
2. Sow seeds. You can spend $2.00 – $4.00 for each transplant, or you can spend a few bucks on a packet of seeds that will grow a bunch of transplants. You do the math! And it’s pretty easy, too.
3. Don’t bag it. Many people bag up their fallen leaves or grass clippings, but there’s really no need. Let the grass clippings fall where they drop, amending your lawn’s soil and leading to a deeper grass root structure — leaving you with more time to devote to your new garden. And those leaves? Toss ‘em in your new compost pile.
4. Know your zone. If you don’t know your USDA Hardiness Zone, you won’t know what to plant when, leading to unsuccessful gardens, dead plants, and a colossal waste of time and money. Do your research ahead of time by looking up your zone here: http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
5. Use native plants. Using plants that are not native or adapted to your area’s growing conditions usually ends in a gardening disaster with wasted time, money, and energy. Think of trying to grow a drought tolerant agave in the moist soils of the Pacific Northwest or acid-loving hydrangeas in central Texas’ alkaline soil — it typically leads to massive disappointment. Know what plants are recommended for your area by contacting your county’s extension office; they often have publications with native plant lists and descriptions.