There's more to choosing what to plant than personal preference. Here are a few things to take into account.
Step 1: Work with your climate Work with your climate. Most seed packets contain information about the type of weather needed to grow a particular plant, and the region of the country where the plant grows best. Don't forget to factor in how much sunlight your particular garden gets.
Step 2: Test your soil Know your soil. You may be able to boost its mineral content with fertilizer, but you can't change its basic composition. Bring a sample to your local gardening center; they can tell you what kind of soil you have and provide an at-home testing kit to see if it could benefit from added nutrients.
Step 3: Consider your commitment Consider the commitment you're willing to make in terms of time and effort; some plants are less labor-intensive than others. Decide if you want annuals – plants that need to be replanted every year; perennials, which will come back on their own; or a combination thereof.
Step 4: Know water requirements Know the water requirements of each plant. Nurturing plants with vastly different needs may prove difficult.
Step 5: Lay it all out Think of the big picture: Choose plants that complement each other. If color is important to you, pick a combination that keeps something in bloom most of the time.
TIP: Some gardening websites let you design a virtual garden so you can see how everything looks together before making any purchases.
Step 6: Think of the local pests Think of the local pests – critters that might make growing a particular plant more frustrating than rewarding – and plan accordingly.
Step 7: Consult an expert Ask your local gardening center if they have a certified professional horticulturist on hand. They can help you make your final decisions.
FACT: An average-size woman burns about 200 calories an hour gardening.