Gardens for Beginners

Gardens for Beginners

Heather Blaha
Jun 4, 2008

We moved into our new home in the dead of winter. With no knowledge of what might lay dormant under the snow, and even less knowledge of what to do with a lawn and landscaping in general, we have been more than happy to discover flowers and plants galore. The big bushes are gone, hostas are flourishing, and lilies and irises blooming. We got lucky...

Along with the help of a landscape architect friend, the previous home owner's obvious green thumb, and a genuine interest in nurturing an outdoor space that is thriving while creating one that feels very "us," we are loving the learning process.

A few bits of insight we've gained:

  • wait until the fall to plant new things
  • we need some height (trees)
  • keep the neighbor's overgrowth through a shared fence under control
  • water transplanted flowers daily for 3 weeks (a move sends them into shock)
  • plant tomatoes in containers on wheels so you can move them around as they need sun and you need to configure space
  • conquer and divide sprawling hostas as they are hearty and will grow quickly


A couple months ago we were briefly interviewed for a Gardening 101 piece in the Chicago Tribune Home & Garden section. Although we've decided that the strange, small patch of grass can stay, we are also looking forward to a much less "perfect" landscape. We want good flow, variety, beauty, and sustenance, but we don't want the toxic sprays (the previous owner left us dozens of bottles), squared off bushes and severe symmetry of the past. Onward, garden hoe!

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