The novice gardner

Fail less: Tips for beginning gardeners

Fail less: Tips for beginning gardeners

Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_brussel sprouts
Brussels Photo by Kristian Gallagher
Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_baby lettuce
Baby Lettuce Photo by Kristian Gallagher
Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_firecracker
Firecracker Lantana Photo by Kristian Gallagher
Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_brussel sprouts
Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_baby lettuce
Austin Photo Set: News_Kristian Gallagher_fail less garden tips_July 2011_firecracker

We’re all about the positive here. Instead of a list of "do's" and "do not's," this is a list with double with amount of do’s. Because while no one can guarantee your garden’s success, a little extra knowledge can help you fail a lot less.

1. Do start small. All plants need extra attention when first started. It’s more work than you think it is. I love these planters, because they’re easy to move around for optimal sunlight and protection from frost.

2. Do be water-wise. Collect rainwater, use soaker hoses, consider plants that can tolerate drought. Check out the rebates offered by the city of Austin for installing rain barrels or improving irrigation systems.

3. Do pay attention to a plants light requirements. The wrong location can make a plant go all mutant in ways you won't like. Regardless of which part of your yard/patio gets sun vs which part is shady — there’s a plant that loves exactly that. Match ‘em up.

4. Do buy local. National chains push the plants they want to sell you, not the ones which are best for our peculiar climate. Locals knows what works. Tap into that knowledge base.

5. Do compost. Go as big or as little as you want. Add just leaves or all yard waste or kitchen scraps, too. Everyone has an opinion about the right way. Don’t worry about it, just do what works for you. This short video will get you started with a super simple trash bin composter.

6. Do make life easier with raised garden beds. Starting from scratch planting directly into hard-packed clay that dominates most of our yards isn’t for beginners. That way lies heartache.

7. Do get the city’s Garden Guide. This is your bible for DIY gardening in Austin.

8. Do play romantic music in the garden to induce pollination. Just kidding.

9. Do keep the soil moist when adding new plants. Yes, even if it means watering everyday. After about two weeks, you can back off with the water.

10. Perhaps most important of all, create a garden you actually enjoy, not the one others tell you to create. It's your space -- own it.