A garden can be both a beautiful addition to a backyard and a joy to tend. This does not mean that it will always be easy. Gardening can sometimes be terrifically hard work. Shoveling dirt to turn the soil before planting works every muscle in your body, even muscles you did not know you had. An easier version of gardening, such as a patio garden, is always an option, but these still require some tending. Probably the only garden that is “maintenance free” is a cactus garden, but even these sometimes need to be cut back every few years or so.
The first aspect of garden maintenance is preparing the soil. If you aren’t lucky enough to live in the heartland with its rich, black soil, you’ll probably need to mix in some amendments. Places with sandy soil need to add steer manure, clay or other materials to give the ground some bulk and substance. Places with desert clay often have soil known as “hardpan.” This is a layer of caliche clay that is sometimes as hard as concrete and requires the gypsum to keep it loose and mulch to add organic material.
After planting, maintenance entails watering, fertilizing and removing weeds. Watering a large amount, but not every day will encourage the roots to go deep and result in healthier, more hardy plants. Water early in the morning to reduce the amount of evaporation.
Fertilizing your garden might be something that happens when you add with the rest of the amendments when initially preparing the soil, or it might happen later depending on the types of plants you are growing. If fertilizing after plants are already growing, be sure to water the material in well, or you could shock the plants. It’s best to use small amounts a few times per year instead of one large dose.