❑ Start from the ground up.
It is very important that you have a proper grade as it decreases drainage problems that can lead to pest and disease.

❑ You’ve got to have good dirt.
Take several samples throughout your yard and take them to the Clemson Extension so that you know what your soil needs to be the best. Organic matter (compost) is always a must.

❑ Mulch, mulch, mulch.
Mulch protects plant’s roots and keeps them cool and moist in the summer. Jim Martin, executive director for the Charleston Parks Conservancy, recommends using shredded oak leaves. Pine bark mulch and pine straw are great too.

❑ Be a pruner snob.
Only buy the best; I prefer bypass pruners to anvil pruners, because they cut clean and don’t tear at your plants. Always clean your pruners with alcohol after using so you don’t spread disease, and remember to sharpen them.

❑ Water.
Water with the correct frequency making sure you are consistent and don’t over-water. Make a schedule and stick to it, or consider an irrigation system.

❑ Take a daily walk.
Walk through your garden as often as possible, preferably daily. Check for anything that looks unusual like fungus or pests. It is important to monitor for problems, so you catch it early. Also you get to take joy in seeing what has bloomed!

❑ Research plants before you buy.
Walk around your neighborhood and see what is doing well to get ideas on what will do well at your house. Read plant tags before you buy, ask knowledgeable nursery staff for advice and use books and the Internet to learn all that you can.

❑ Make a long range plan.
You don’t have to do everything at once, but having a long-term plan helps you achieve the garden of your dreams. Draw a sketch of what and where you plant items and what you’d like to plant in the future. Start a gardening journal to record what you’ve planted, what you want to have, what blooms when, plant care and maintenance tips and more.

❑ Maintain your equipment.
Sharpen and clean all pruning devices with alcohol after pruning and WD40 them to maintain mobility. Also, it is important to make sure you regularly sharpen your mower blade.

❑ Love your garden!
Love is really the secret ingredient to a beautiful garden. If you make your garden a labor of love, you will see great results!

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