Gardening Cents - Getting Started

With spring rolling in and warmer temperatures lots of people are out sprucing up their lawn. But what exactly should you do first? And, how can you get the most bang for your buck? Today we start a special series called "Gardening Cents."

Every Friday for the next five weeks our Jeff Gerber will show us how he gave his yard more curb appeal with the help of a resource many homeowners don't think about

To get help on our project we went to the Alabama Extension Service. They offer several low-cost services many gardening centers charge a hefty price for. "We do soil samples, on-site assessments, and plant identification,"says staff horticulturist Vanessa Farmer, who will help us give our lawn curb appeal.

She says the first thing you need to do is get your soil tested. "What you want to do is go around your yard and take several samples and mix them together in a bucket and then put them in a little pint size box (available at the extension service or your local gardening center) that will be mailed over to the Auburn testing lab." The cost of the soil sample test is $8. You can find complete instructions here .

Getting the results back will take a few weeks, but Vanessa says the test is crucial when determining what to plant. As for my yard, Vanessa first recommended adding more color with several different low-maintenance flowers and transplanting our azaleas to the back yard where they could grow taller and not hide our windows.

Vanessa also recommended pulling up the edging for a more natural look. "We going to do a new edging technique. Instead of having that edging material, we're going to do a shovel edge on the bed and I'm going to show you how to do that."

Vanessa says if you keep your beds shovel edged twice a year you'll be able to maintain nice clean lines. When we pulled up the edging it left us a line. To shovel edge you should use a shovel like the one pictured upper left.  You push the shovel down about three or four inches and throw the existing soil back up into the bed. The little trench is really going to define the bed and the mulch will neatly lay down against the edging of the turf.

Vanessa advises that shovel edging your beds makes cutting your lawn easier and eliminates having to use a weed eater. Doing a "natural" shovel edge technique takes a little bit of time and elbow grease, but isn't any more difficult than laying down store bought edging.

Next Friday we'll be showing you how to do container gardening.

You can view some of the tips found in this story with your Windows Media Player
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Soil Sampling 56k

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Shovel Edging 56k

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