For many people gardening is a hobby that not only is enjoyable, but also rewards them with a beautiful area to appreciate in their yard and delicious homegrown foods for every meal.

Gardens, if maintained, can also attract buyers when it comes time to sell your home.

There are several issues to keep in mind when planning your own oasis:

  • Size doesn't have to be a limiting factor in gardening; even a very small backyard can have a desirable garden. (Think semi-dwarf and dwarf varieties of trees and potted plants on balconies and patios)
  • Don't have good soil? Try raised beds with "imported" soil. Or use potting soils and decorative pots for plants that require extra healthy soil.
  • How much time do you want to spend gardening? Fruit trees, large shrubbery, and perennial (come back year after year) plants require the least work. Annual flowers and vegetable gardens will take the most tending.

If you choose to incoroprate an orchard into your garden, remember:

  • You'll get the added benefit of springtime blooms and fragrances.
  • Consult with a nursery before you buy a fruit tree. Trees need pollination in order to produce fruit, and as there are self-pollinating, trees that pollinate in pairs and even trees that need to be placed in a trio to pollinate, you'll have to decide which is best for you.
  • Where to plant your fruit trees? Keep in mind frost, wind, sun, and shade.
  • Patience is a virtue; most likely your tree will take several years before it bears fruit.

If you're not ready to take the plunge by diving into backyard gardening, consider adding window boxes around the outside of your home. This is a simple way to add color and charm to your home. Many books are available showing you how to build your own boxes, or you can purchase them at any home improvement store.

Make sure that you buy the proper brackets to support the window box as they can become very heavy from the soil, flowers, and plants. Key points to remember:

  • Have enough soil in the box so that your plants' blooms are raised up to make them visible from a distance. (Using a plastic insert helps make it easier to arrange the plants and then to fit them nicely inside the window box.)
  • Prune and maintain your plants. Dead leaves and stems should be removed or cut from plants to encourage new growth.
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