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We may not all have been blessed with a green thumb, but thanks to some helpful pointers, growing the garden of our dreams can now be a reality.

A major joy of homeownership can be your yard, where you are able to cultivate your own piece of nature. It says a lot about a home, as well, and by extension you. No matter your taste, there are some simple ways you can make your yard the toast of the neighborhood.

Let's examine a few great tips from the experts.

Tips for watering

Like all other living things, plants need water to survive. How much water they receive is mostly controlled by you. The best indicator of whether or not you are watering the lawn enough is to check the soil. If you can penetrate to the roots easily, which is about 8 inches, then the soil has had enough water.

In terms of plants and shrubs, watering needs depend entirely on the species. Most flowering plants, such as petunias or geraniums for example, need watering daily during the hot days of summer. Plants, even large rooted shrubs, when under trees, need larger amounts of water than you'd expect. Tree roots are such water hogs.

Newly planted shrubs and flowers require a bit more care and water, even for a couple years, than those that are more established.

There is also a way to multi-task while you water. Certain brands of fertilizer now come in liquid forms that can be applied at the same time you use your garden hose.

For efficiency, and for water conservation, you should attempt to water in the early morning hours. Sprinkler systems should be adjusted so that they run only out of the heat of day. And consider installing a rain sensor, so that you don't water your lawns while it rains!

Tips for bigger blooms

Plants receive their nutrition from the soil. If they are unable to get everything they need from where they are planted, they may stop flowering. This is where fertilizer comes into play. A plant requires several key ingredients to perform at its best. These include: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is what makes big, beautiful foliage. Phosphorus helps plants establish strong roots. Potassium helps improves the overall health of the plant.

You can choose from granular fertilizer, which lasts around 6 months, or water soluble, which needs applied every other week.

Of course, there are natural alternatives, if you want to avoid using chemical products. Some time honored favorites include animal manure (horse or cow), mulch, grass clippings, or compost.

Tips for a lush lawn

Now that you've watered your lawn, what else can be done to improve its health and appearance? One tip is to aerate. Yes, plants and their roots need oxygen!

Controlling weeds is another important step. Although herbalists could brew up some tea out of those dandelions, many folks don't appreciate a dandelion crop.

Broadleaf plants (dandelion, plantains, thistle, chickweed, clover) are best controlled by "selective postemergence herbicides."

Grass weeds (crabgrass, bluegrass, foxtail) are best combatted with preemergence herbicides applied before germination. Whether you should treat in Spring or Fall depends entirely on what type of weed is giving you pains, an annual or perennial.

Next, to what height should you cut your lawn? It all depends on what type of grass you have growing. Bermuda grasses do best when kept to .75 to 1.5 inches. Cutting your lawn to shorter heights can result in shallow roots. Shallow roots mean grass that drys out easier. Too short grass also gives weeds leeway to emerge.

Best of luck on creating your own perfect yard!

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