According to the dictionary, the term Rule of Thumbs means; “a method of procedure based on experience and common sense.” So today I’m sharing a few gardening rules of thumb, that I have learned over the years.
7 Gardening Rules of Thumb
Sometimes it’s the little tips people tell you, that make all the difference.
1. Use Native Soil
When planting a new perennial, shrub or tree, don’t fill the whole with a bag of topsoil or compost, but rather use the soil that you just dug up. It’s fine to add a little compost or slow release fertilizer, but the majority should be native soil. Why? Because this will help the plants roots get established in the new environment, and reach beyond the planting hole.
2. Plant on a Cloudy Day
Whenever possible, plant on a cloudy day, preferably when rain is in the forecast. This helps reduce transplant shock. If you plant on a hot sunny day, even if you water well, the plants will not be able to acclimate to their new home as well.
3. Dig the Right Size Hole
A great rule of thumb here is, 2 times the width but no deeper than the pot it came in. Plants will tend to settle a little, and you don’t want it to sink below ground level. This also helps the roots grow out into the loose surrounding soil which is likely to be more beneficial and rich.
4. No Mulch Zone
Make sure you leave a few inches around the plant mulch free. Mulch is great for weed control, and helping retain moisture, but when it is too close to the plant is can encourage pests, disease problems, even rot.
5. Mid Day Wilt
During the heat of the afternoon, many plants will look like they are in dire need of water. If you know that you have been watering properly, wait until early evening to see if it recovers before adding additional water. Many plants like this large leaf hydrangea look like this during the mid-day heat, but do not actually need additional water.
6. Don’t Prune in the Fall
It’s always a good idea to prune diseased or dead plants at any time, but consider delaying pruning of seed heads and other herbaceous perennials, for late winter, or early spring. This will help wildlife and add winter interest to your garden. See Pruning Spring or Fall.
7. Be Patient
One of my favorite gardening rules of thumb. The saying above is a wonderful truism from my experience. I’ll be the first to admit when they were handing out patience, I must have been at the end of the line. However, after 30+ years of gardening this adage really rings true.
Don’t get discouraged. Try new plants and move them around. Don’t feel bad if some of your plants die. All gardeners have lost a plant or two.
For me, gardening definitely falls under, “The Journey is Half the Fun.”