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Tips for Those with Brown Thumbs

Before we bought our house, we leased property. It was a small lot that had a ton of trees and an over abundance of squirrels in those trees. These weren’t just any squirrels. They were vicious squirrels. They gnawed all the way through our hose holder until there was almost nothing left of it!

If I put a pumpkin out in the fall, the squirrels would destroy it. When I planted flowers, they would dig them up and eat off the flower heads leaving behind the stems. Those evil squirrels were my nemesis!

So when we moved into our home, I couldn’t wait to plant flowers! I wanted to get flowers that would be easy to manage and take care of because even though I blame my flower fails on the squirrels, I do tend to have a brown thumb. Here are some fool-proof tips that I have learned over the years for those of us who have brown thumbs, but still want pretty flowers to enjoy.

Start small.
Instead of wrapping the entire house with an enormous flower bed, choose a small area that you can focus your efforts into. A smaller space is easier to maintain and won’t cost as much to fill. Even though I would love to have beautiful flowers and plants spread across the entire front of my house, I chose to make a 6 foot by 2 foot area near our entryway to make into a flower bed. This was the right area for me because I can enjoy it every time I walk outside and it greets our guests as they arrive at our house.

Choose plants and flowers carefully.
Take time to research easy-to-maintain flowers before you head to the store. That way you have an idea of what to look for. While at the store take your time to read the labels. Look for bloom season. Will your flowers bloom for the majority of the year, or do the blooms only last a short while? Look for watering and pruning. Do the plants require a lot of maintenance? Does the area you will be planting in receive sunlight? Check the labels to find out how many hours of sunlight it needs each day.


Prepare well.
Before planting, make sure the soil is cleared of stones, roots, or debris, and level the soil. To deter future weeds, cover the soil with cardboard or several layers of newspaper. Cover the cardboard or newspaper with at least a 2 inch layer of mulch. I covered my soil with cardboard and mulch, and have only seen a couple of weeds in the last month. It is so nice not having to weed!

Create a habit of maintaining.
If you chose low maintenance plants, maintaining shouldn’t take much time. However, it should become a daily habit. You don’t want those plants you spent time and money on to die! It is best to water plants in the evening after the hottest part of the day. I have made it my habit to water my flowers as soon as I have finished cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. While watering, I check for any dead heads that need to be taken off. That is all the maintenance that my plants need at this point. It only takes a few minutes of my evening.