Tip #5: Color your garden
Stick to a simple color scheme for flowers and blooming shrubs in your garden. Your landscaping will look more cohesive and professional.
Massing plants of coordinated colors creates a sense of luxury and order. If you like pinks, add lavenders and blue-hued plants. If hot red is your color, mix with yellows and oranges.
Keeping to a single color family in your garden also narrows your focus when roaming plant center aisles. If you are a gardening newbie and can’t tell a tea rose from a trumpet vine, ask the store’s plant expert for help. Most will be glad to exchange their knowledge for a sale.
Also, gardening catalogs and websites often group complementary colors together. Some even provide a complete landscape plan, which you can faithfully recreate.
Tip #6: Avoid invaders
Ivies, grasses, and vines will fill in your garden quickly, and just as quickly take over your landscaping. Once these “invasives” take root, unearthing them is difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
Your garden center doesn’t call these spreaders “invasives.” They are billed as “fast growers” or “aggressives,” but often that’s code for non-native plants that take over the landscape and crowd out locals by stealing nutrients, light, and water.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a list of invasives that includes various ivies, grasses, weeds, vines, self-seeding varieties of bushes and shrubs, and even seemingly innocuous herbs, like mint. Your county extension service can steer you toward the species best suited to your garden. Warning: If you love growing mint, grow it in a pot on your deck or patio.
Tip #7: Beware of neighbors bearing green gifts
You should love thy neighbor, but don’t ever take cuttings from their gardens unless you know exactly what they are and how they grow. Self-seeding perennials, such as Black-Eyed Susans and coneflowers, will quickly fill bare spots with splashes of color. If you tire of them, just grab a spade and dig them out.
But if a neighbor extends a slender stalk of Rose of Sharon, or other invasive tree species, run away screaming. These trees will spread throughout your yard and grow roots so deep that only a professional–or the better part of your weekend–can dig and pull them out.