Beginner Gardening Tips for Flower Gardens

Update: Since I wrote this post, we have moved 2 times and now live in a townhouse complex with a small cement slab patio and a lawn service that comes once a week to mow our grass. It’s absolutely fabulous for this current stage of our live.

But, for many years previous I had HUGE yards and flower beds to look after. Here were the gardening principles that I eventually developed that helped when I was looking after so much!


Define your Personal Gardening Philosophies & Goals

After struggling with peer pressure and guilt that I couldn’t keep up with the incredible gardeners in my neighborhood, I finally landed on these top 3 goals for my gardening and yard care:

  • I don’t strive for the “Most Beautiful Yard on the Island” award.  However,  I do want passers-by to recognize our place is inhabited by people who care.
  • I love flowers and love to be surrounded by happy color.
  • Low maintenance and budget friendly are a must.

Time and Energy Saving Gardening Tips

1.  Start weeding early in the planting season.  If I don’t try to get most of those weeds taken care of when they’re “babies”, I’m sunk!   After weeding well, I try to implement this magic duo whenever possible ~ landscape fabric placed over a weed free area with a thick layer of  bark mulch on top.

landscape fabric and bark mulch

The fabric in no way prevents all weeds from growing, but it sure helps.  And the bark mulch?  I call it black gold.  It not only keeps the moisture in, it looks nice, too!

2.  Give your plants good nutrition.  They need food along with water – just like humans do – to grow healthy and strong.  If the leaves are starting to turn yellow, they’re probably hungry for something.

plant food

 3.  Understand what ground cover is before you plant it.  Ground cover are plants that grow and spread easily.  They will form a “carpet” of plants in your flower beds.  They are wonderful if you like that look.

However, if you’d like to achieve a neater, more ordered style of flower bed (like me), ground cover will be a continual source of frustration for you.  I avoid them like the plague and consider them weeds… {Just my opinion, of course!}

4.  Work smart and think of your muscles as you work.  I have a muscle pain issue {fibromyalgia} that can flare up after gardening {almost as bad as the time I tried to take up jogging!}.  My strategy?  Avoid bending at the waist (kneel or sit while digging and weeding), take short frequent breaks, get help for the heavy stuff, & drink lots of water.  Most importantly, listen to the pain and stop before it’s screaming at you… {and make sure the Advil is handy!Smile}

5.   Set boundaries that work for you…then free yourself from feeling guilty! If your idea of gardening is a small pot of plants by your back door, that is just fine.  In fact, if your “gardening” of preference is veggies and cut flowers from the store, that’s fine too!!

Let me give you my example:

Over here on the West Coast things grow quite easily.  I also found a lot of “peer” pressure to be a gardener extraordinaire.  I did my time planting veggie gardens and makeshift greenhouses.  But reality forced me to make some big decisions gardening-wise…

See that big plot of lawn in the front yard?


It used to be a huge, whoppin’ garden.  In fact, I’m probably the first woman in 100 years that has lived in this house that hasn’t tended to a veggie garden.

It was humbling for me to have to have it grassed in.

It was also a relief.

I’m so happy that I have 2 flower beds all nice and pretty.  The truth is, I have 4 more {huge ones} that look like this:


I’ll try to get to them little by little.  However, past experience has taught me that flowers are brave enough to bloom amid the weeds.

And with a little snip of my scissors and a  cup of water, they look just beautiful on my window sill…

windowsill flowers

And {thankfully}, it’s weed free there.Winking smile

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  1. Rita,
    I love this. I’ve spent far too much time feeling guilty about not doing more of this or that. Thanks for helping me let myself off the hook a little bit. 🙂

    Oh, and did I say, I Love Your Blog!….. And I so wish you could come transform our unfinished basement! 🙂


  2. You are right on with your hints. My fight has been with the flower gardening my Mom has always done. Fortunately she scaled back some before I came but I’m still working on making her yard pretty without killing myself pulling weeds or hating myself for neglecting it. One thing I did last year was to modify her huge and lovely front flower bed by sinking (with a lot of shovel help from my daddy) barrel halves into the ground in 4 places and then covering the rest with landscape fabric and bark. With her rail fence, the tree that grew voluntarily many years ago and some perennials that were already established, it looks great and I can handle watering and pulling weeds easily.

    It’s so fun to “chat” with you via your blog!

  3. Really great tips! I have an area in the front that needs some love and you’ve inspired me. Think I’ll give the MiracleGrow Shake & Feed. I also have Fibro and empathize. I love to garden so try to do what I can on good days.

    Have a great weekend!

  4. oh my. your blog is beautiful, your place is beautiful, your work is beautiful!! thank you so much for flattering me by following me and commenting yesterday, I’ll be following you back through email!! I’m in British Columbia, where abouts are you??

    xo, Leanne

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