Written By: Holli McCray
Spring has sprung in Knoxville, which means it time to get out those gloves, trowels, rakes, and wheelbarrows! Getting outside and planting a garden is a fantastic way to get away from all the struggle and negativity in the world right now. If you’re like me and don’t have much of a “green thumb”, we provided some tips and ideas below on how to get started…
Deciding which type of garden you want to grow depends on the lifestyle you want to live. Some gardens require daily work, whereas others can be quite low maintenance. Regardless of the garden you choose, proper preparation is the key to success.
Before jumping into your Spring gardening routine, you’ll want to stock up on a few tools of the trade. While gardening can be a wonderful hobby, it can quickly turn into a painful experience without the right pair of gloves. Look for gloves that fit well, are water-resistant, and breathable. You’ll also want to pick up a hand trowel which is perfect for transplanting plants and flowers or taking out those pesky weeds. If you have large trees in your yard, you know how handy a rake can be for whisking away leaves and debris.
For moving around soil, compost, or anything heavy, a wheelbarrow is worth the investment. And let’s not forget your watering can—so many sizes, shapes, and styles to choose from, it will be hard to pick just one. According to Garden Design, there are 12 essential gardening tools you’ll want to keep in your shed year-round.
Gardening like a Native
April is our traditional planting season here in Knoxville, and we are strong advocates for going native. Using native plants in landscaping is not a new concept. Native plants tend to thrive in their natural environment. They work well with pollinators in the area, provide food or shelter to local wildlife, and bring biodiversity back to areas that need it. You may think Elderberries are only found at IKEA, but they are actually native to the Knoxville area. Not only do they have lovely white flowers, but their dark purple berries can also be made into jellies and wines. Plant this shrub in the shade and watch it thrive. Virginia Bluebells are not just for Virginians! This classic Midwest foliage features light pink bud clusters that open up into light blue trumpet-shaped flowers.
And if you’re butterfly fans like us, you can’t go wrong with Milkweed. While its name is less than desirable, these green leaves are the only leaves a Monarch caterpillar will eat. The brilliant orange flowers attract Monarch butterflies who deposit their eggs on the underside of the leaves. Pick and choose your favorite native plants at Stanley’s Greenhouse, an award-winning family-owned and operated greenhouse and garden center located right here in Knoxville.
Gardening Like a Chef
Herbs have been used for centuries around the world. Herbalists treasure the healing qualities of certain flowers, leaves, and roots, whereas cooks love the unique flavors that herbs can add to their favorite dishes. An “herb” is considered any plant that is considered useful—but it’s not all about function, some gardeners have grown herbs simply because they are beautiful. Most herbs thrive in typical garden soil with good drainage. They can become stressed in a windy or exposed location, so planting herbs near your home or next to other buildings or walls can increase your chances for success. Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, and sage can all be sown with a seed-starting tray and are considered easy to grow.
These herb gardening tips from Better Homes & Gardens are sure to make beginning a breeze.
Gardening for the Future
Did you know the two biggest users of water in your home are toilets and landscaping? Now more than ever, being water-wise is not only smart for your wallet, it’s doing your part for the planet.
One of the easiest ways to lower your water usage is to collect rainwater. Rainwater is the best choice for your plants and can be collected in barrels or cisterns. Using your downspouts (aka rain gutters), a 1,000 square foot roof can yield 625 gallons of water from just one inch of rain. Installing a drip system and/or using a soaker hose can ensure that the water you do use is getting where you need it and not rolling down your sidewalk or driveway. Another great way to be water-wise is by making smart choices with your landscaping.
Using larger pavers or stepping stones can be strategically placed to reduce green space thoughtfully. In addition, using mulch on top of your soil can add interest to your landscape and cut back on unwanted weeds. Check out additional ways to be water-wise with these tips from The Spruce.
Gardening without a Green Thumb
Worried that your thumb isn’t quite green enough to pull off a Spring garden? Have no fear! Good Housekeeping has compiled a list of 30 gorgeous indoor plants that are almost impossible to kill. Having plants inside your home is not only beautiful to look at, but they also help purify the air you breathe. Some of our favorites include “Mother-in-law’s Tongue” which can go for a month without water, “Philodendrons” which prefer low light and need little water, “Ponytail Palms” which thrive in a sunny window, and “Aloe” which loves indirect light and a good soak every week or two.