Tip #2: Become sun savvy
Even experienced gardeners make mistakes. They plant shade-loving plants in full sun or sun-loving plants in partial shade. Before planting anything in your garden, compare the amount of sunlight your landscaping needs for the amount you have.
Evaluating garden sunlight is tricky because daylight is a moving target: Seasons change and plants mature and cast different shadows.
So before plotting plant beds and tree locations, study the movement of the sun throughout the day and, if you have time, throughout the year. Calculate how many hours of sun each garden section receives. Then check planting directions to make sure your greenery will get what it needs.
Tip #3: Become water wise
Over-watering plants can kill your landscaping and budget. To avoid death by water, know how much and when your greens need to drink: Sales tags should have watering directions.
Drip hoses are thrifty ways to water plants, because the water goes directly to roots, drop by drop. Wind drip hoses around tree bases and bottoms of shrubs. Put hoses on automatic timers to avoid over-watering.
If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, install an ET (evapotranspiraton) controller. These systems, which use real-time weather data sent by satellite to control when sprinklers turn on and off, can cut water use by as much as 30%. The controller costs between $300 and $400, depending on system size, but many municipal water agencies offer rebates, particularly in the arid Southwest.
Tip # 4: Mulch much
Spreading a few inches of mulch in landscaping beds protects your plants and shrubs from drying out, and makes beds look tidy and uniform. Mulch also keeps down weeds and moderates soil temperature.
Organic mulches–grass clippings, wood chips, pine needles–eventually decompose and add vital nutrients to your soil and landscaping. Organics also encourage worm growth, nature’s own soil tillers and fertilizers.
Shredded bark mulch from the garden center provides a rich look for your beds, adding curb appeal. It also prevents dirt from splashing on leaves.