The Ultimate 4 Seasons Guide to Gardening

No matter where you live, gardening is an option for you. Even if you have a small yard or no yard at all, you can satisfy your green thumb year round. The tasks you complete each season play a crucial role in the annual cycle of gardening. Whether this is your first time exploring the possibility of a plot or you are a veteran horticulturist, find out what you can do every season to ensure you have a thriving garden.

Spring Season Gardening Guide
Indoor
Figure out which potting soil mix is best

Not all potted plants are considered equal. Consult this guide to figure out which potting soil mix is best for your plant.

Make sure your tools are ready

Take inventory of the tools you have and make sure they are sharp and ready to go for the season. Purchase any tools you’re missing or old tools that need to be replaced.

See which seeds need to be replaced

You’re ready to start planting but unsure about what seeds are still viable. Try this easy indoor test to see which seeds need to be replaced.

Outdoor
Clean up garden beds

Clean up garden beds and borders from any remaining seasonal debris.

Mulch adds nutrients and slows down the erosion of the topsoil

Get ready to mulch, but only when the time is right. Mulch is not only nice to look at, but adds nutrients and slows down the erosion of the topsoil. Mulch can also protect the root system of the plant. If you place the mulch too early it will actually slow down the warming process and minimise how many of those nutrients actually reach the soil. It’s best to wait until the ground warms up around mid- to late spring.1

Weeding is very important once summer hits

Keep the weeds under control to give your garden a good chance from the start. Weeds tend to become a bigger problem in summer. Read on for weeding tips in the summer section.

Repair patches in the lawn

Repair bare patches in the lawn. You can plant seed or lay sod. There are pros and cons to both, so choose whichever method works best for you.

Large Yards
Prune your trees

Prune your trees. Remove dead or damaged branches to allow for new, healthy growth. However, make sure to steer clear of shrubs and trees that bloom later in spring and will not open until the weather warms.

Start purchasing or constructing what you need

Start purchasing or constructing what you need to create the backyard space you planned out in winter.

Small Gardens + Apartment Living
Vertical Garden Planter

Gardening in small spaces is less about what you plant and more about how you plant it. Think vertical. Stack gutters or use old pallets to hold narrow window boxes.

Wheelbarrow - Garden On Wheels

Get creative and consider how you can blend items you already have to create a new space for gardening, like this dog house garden or a garden on wheels.

Space Saving Fence Planter

Use special planter boxes to better utilise your fence and railing space. Rail planters come in a variety of shapes and sizes to work for any small space.

Summer Season Gardening Guide
Indoor
Vertical Gardening

Vertical gardens aren’t just for small yards or apartment patios. They are a great alternative to the traditional hanging basket or desk plant inside your home. Several varieties of plants live well within an indoor space and grow in an assortment of ways. Whether you prefer a draping plant or something that climbs, there are many species to choose from.

Consider purchasing a light meter

Consider purchasing a light meter to determine just how much light gets through the windows around your home. Choose the optimal place for your plant accordingly.

Outdoor
Weeding is very important once summer hits

Weeding is very important once summer hits and your plants begin to grow. There are four major kinds: dandelions, thistles, stinging nettles and bind weed. The best way to remove them is with a hand fork. These weeds tend to have deeper, longer roots and any bit you leave behind will regrow. If removed properly, you will notice weeds appearing less and less over time.2

Summer Annual Weeds

There are also annual weeds that aren’t as troublesome due to shorter roots: bitter cress, speedwell and chickweed. All three are common in bare patches of soil. To remove them, use a hoe in between plants. Given their shallow grasp, the weeds should uproot easily. Once uprooted, you can leave them on the surface and they should shrivel up in the sun.2

Large Yards
Consistency is the key to watering

Watering larger spaces can be a challenge. Consistency is key, so choose a method that you can maintain easily. Not sure where to start? You have options; check them out here.

Water plants in the evening after the hottest part of the day has passed

Summer days are long and hot and certainly not the best time to water your plants. The best use of water is in the evening after the hottest part of the day has passed and your plants are at their thirstiest.

Small Gardens + Apartment Living
Window boxes are perfect for herbs and seasonal summer fruit

Window boxes are perfect for herbs and seasonal summer fruit. Enjoy seasonal berries and fresh herbs through the warm season. Make sure you research which fruits and herbs thrive in the confined space of a window box.

Try layering your shrubbery

Make your small yard look bigger by layering your shrubbery. By layering shorter shrubs in front of high fences or flower beds in front of bushes, you create an illusion of depth.

Autumn Season Gardening Guide
Indoor
Start fresh from a seed instead of transplanting

As the outdoor gardening season draws to a close, consider your indoor options. There are dozens of indoor friendly plants to choose from, but don’t just replant from what you started outdoors. Transplanting your current plants carries a high risk of plant disease or pests.3 Instead, start fresh from a seed.

Indoor-Friendly Plants

Indoor-friendly plants

  • Vegetables: arugula, broccoli, broccoli raab, brussel sprouts, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collards, endive, escarole, kale, leeks, lettuce, mesclun varieties, mustard greens, radicchio, sorrel, spinach.
  • Herbs: basil, catnip, chamomile, chives, cilantro, cumin, dill, garlic, chives, lavender, lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Outdoor
Use mulch to prepare for winter

Prepare your garden for winter and it will all pay off in the spring. It’s time to mulch again. Place mulch around plants to help keep the heat in and the soul rich with nutrients. Experts say the ideal time to mulch is after the ground begins to freeze but prior to the first snowfall.4

Perennial Plant Markers

Mark your perennial plants so you don’t forget their location over the long winter.

Turn broken pots into garden markers

Don’t throw away broken terracotta pots from the season. Instead, turn them into garden markers or obstructions at ground level to keep pests away for the following season.

Large Yards
Plant trees in autumn

Sizeable spaces open up the possibility of big additions, like trees. Fall is the time to plant as the soil is not too cool and the heat isn’t too taxing. What does that mean for your tree? Months of prime root development before the heat rises again.

Small Gardens + Apartment Living
Grow a dwarf citrus tree

For functional and fun décor, grow a dwarf citrus tree that is well suited for being grown in a container year round.

Grow fruit plants in a pot

Use this guide for more fruit plants you can grow in pots.

Winter Season Gardening Guide
Indoor
Sow your seeds in January to February

Sow your seeds in January and February for plants that you plan on growing outside, especially those with a longer germination process (peppers, aubergines, geraniums, etc.).

Outdoor
Were certain types of plants more successful than others?

While you can’t do much outdoors this time of year, think back to what went well when you could. Were certain types of plants more successful than others? What would you have done differently? Take note now because you may not remember the details when it comes time to prepare for the next year.

Consider planting hellebores

Consider planting hellebores, unique flowers that open as early as December and may last all the way to April. Plant them in the spring.

Large Yards
Plan out your garden layout in the winter

Dream big and use this time to reflect on the layout of your yard. Are you using the space well? Think of your yard as just another room in the house and consider all the possibilities.

  • Any over saturated and watery part of your yard is still a viable space. Consider creating a boardwalk or an island patio. If the ground is still too mushy, consider planting plants that are friendly to that environment and create a “wall” to block off the space.
  • If you love to host, make sure to set aside space for large groups as well as small ones. A charming corner seating area is perfect to enjoy afternoon tea with a close friend. For larger parties, consider the layout for both active spaces and group dining, as many gatherings involve both.
  • Estimate costs and plan ahead to catch sales in the off-season.
Small Gardens + Apartment Living
Low-Maintenance Succulents

Opt for low-maintenance succulents that only need 2 – 4 hours of direct sunlight every day and minimal amounts of water. Succulents come in a variety of sizes so you can start small or group them together for big arrangement.


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References
1 Landscaping with mulch. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://www.lowes.com/projects/lawn-and-garden/landscaping-with-mulch/project

2 June. (n.d.). Retrieved 02 February 2016, from https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/in-month/june

3 Nickleson, L. (27 February). Indoor gardening: the ultimate guide for beginners. Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://www.towergarden.com/content/towergarden/en-us/blog/2015/02/see_how_easily_youc.html

4 Perry, L., & Grubinger, V. (Winter). Winter protection and other November gardening tips. Retrieved 02 February 2016, from http://pss.uvm.edu/ppp/articles/nov99tip.htm

About 

Babs is a content writer at Enova International, Inc. with a Bachelors in Cinema Studies and English from the University of Illinois (ILL-INI!). She loves binge watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! Find out more about her on Google+.

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