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July 31, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 4 Faves: 2

What Kind of Gardener Are You?

By Rachael Steil More Blogs by This Author

Do you hear "biophilia" whispering to you in the wind? It's nature's call; you have a deep human desire to garden.

Biophilia, or the love of plants, animals, and other living things, is inherent in all of us. Every person could use a little lovin' for the plants and animals of the world. Even if you claim that you're "not a gardener," you have a calling back to the wild; you just have to find the right niche in gardening. It may feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, but once you get into a groove and find the garden suited for your home and personality, you may find your inner biophilia blossoming with the flowers!

Gardening doesn't mean you have to stick with the cliche carnival of flowers overrunning your backyard for neighbors to gawk at. There are many ways to spruce up your home and give you that connection with nature - even if it doesn't end up being outside!

A garden for your personality is awaiting your helping hand. Whether your call is for a party of blooming colors or giving a little TLC to your window-side herb babies, there is a garden waiting for you. It's time to take out that shovel and dig deep into who you are and what you have to work with right in your own home or backyard. Let's turn over the dirt to reveal your biophilia desires!

Rock Garden

Don't want to spend hours in a garden each week? A rock garden is the way to go! Rock gardens require less maintenance since most of the work is in the construction process, where you build a base with layers of dirt and sand before arranging large rocks on top. You can plant a few flowers around the rocks to add some color, but much of the growing comes through experimentation. Some flowers grow better around rocks than others, and it usually depends on the climate and location. It may take a few years before you know what works best.

No Shame in the Shade!

Stuck in the shade? Or are you simply one who enjoys crawling into a dark, private area of your backyard for peace and quiet? Shade gardens require careful preparation - perhaps even a few years ahead of time. Check to see if you have dense, light, or partial shade before choosing your shade flowers. Partial shade is probably best, since you will be able to grow a wider variety of plants. If it is too dense, you may have to trim some tree branches to let in a little more light. Often the ground is drier too, because trees soak up so much water. To create your own humus you can add tiny, chopped, dried leaves and twigs to the area with compost activator annually until the leaves have rotted to deep humus. This will provide great soil for white, cream, or yellow flowers, which look best in the shade since the color will pop out more.

Rose Garden

Rose gardens are a romantic way to spruce up your backyard. Roses are seemingly a hard plant to grow, but not so if you know what kind of roses to grow according to your location. Once you've got the right roses for your yard, you don't have to worry about much watering. It's better for the roses to be watered heavily once in a while, rather than a little bit each day.

Speaking of water, if you love the aqua life it might be time for you to start a ...

Water Garden

Water gardens are high-maintenance but reap high rewards. They are a great place to provide a home to critters like frogs, fish, and water bugs, while giving you a relaxing place to enjoy nature at its finest.

The best location for a water garden is in an area devoid of overhanging trees to avoid pine needles and leaves from falling in the water and decomposing - something that may upset the balance of the ecosystem. You'll want the pond near a source of tapwater to make maintenance easier as well.

As nice as it is to have a pond in your backyard, the lack of balance keeps happy, free-growing algae coming back each year with a vengeance. There are a variety of filtration systems you will need to look into: mechanical, biological, sterilization, water changes, aeration, and netting. Water quality, which includes factors such as chlorine, pH, and temperature, need to be monitored monthly.

Herb Garden

Herb gardens are not only a great way to give yourself a connection to nature, but they get your cooking in gear while saving you money - and perhaps a few trips to the store. If you want to keep it all indoors, you just need a large window that gets sunlight for at least five hours of the day, preferably away from a heating vent. Keep your house between 60 and 70 degrees for ideal growing environments. Basil, chives, dill, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, and thyme are best to grow indoors.

Container Garden

Don't want to just grow herbs? Give the inside of your home or even your work cubicle a makeover with beautiful flowers and plants. Maybe you like change; with a container garden, you're free to move around your plants whenever you choose! Feeling extra laid-back? Just buy a potted plant from the store. But that doesn't mean you're missing out on the creativity. Some indoor gardeners find fun new ways to spruce up the pots, using anything from old books, tires, watering cans, buckets, boxes, and boots. The possibilities are endless!

If you aren't home as often, smaller containers are best so that you don't have to water as much. Areas that will not get much sunlight should be reserved for ferns, ivy, or begonias. Decks and patios are great for sun-loving plants like petunias, daisies, aloe, or many types of grass. Tomatoes and carrots can be added to your collection if you have that itch to cook with home-grown food.

Annual and Perennial Gardens

6-8 hours of sunlight is a must with annual and perennial gardens. The more sunlight you give, the more blooming flowers you will receive. Annual flowers are great for big gardens, although these kind will need more water and fertilizer compared to perennials. Oh yeah, and you need to plant them again each year. While it may seem like a downer to most, for those of you who like change, it can be a fun way to create a new garden each year.

If you don't have enough time to tend to a garden, perennials are probably the ones for you. However, patience is the key with perennials, as these will not grow as quickly; in fact, they can take a year or more to bloom in the garden.

Feeling a little bit of both? Combine perennial and annuals to have the best of both worlds! And of course, if you're feeling extra ambitious, dabble into a little bit of all of these gardens for a backyard and house celebrating biophilia!

As with any new garden, be sure to put in the time and research before you attempt your feat. See which garden is suited best for your lifestyle and personality.


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  • I love perennials - they make life easy! I was in the backseat of the car this weekend because we had another couple in the car with us and we were out taking a drive. We ended up driving around Pickerel Lake in Newago MI. I saw such beautiful gardens at the cottages. I think people would rather have plants than grow grass (and have to mow). Some day I want my yard to look like some of the beautiful displays I saw around the lake.

  • I'm definitely more on the practical side when it comes to gardening.

    I appreciate flowers, but most really only offer beauty, and I enjoy the beauty nature provides just the same if not more than them. If I'm going to take my time to garden, I need more.

    I've got a little vegetable/herb garden that provides food for us. I'm not an expert gardener by any means, and there have definitely been some trials in each year's garden, but it feel amazing to see a seed you planted grow big, and to eat the food it makes. I'm proud of my little garden.

  • @ Erin: I completely agree. I've always said that I'd rather not receive flowers as gifts; they are just not practical enough for me. :) I'd love to start a vegetable/herb garden soon. I'll have to wait until I have my own place though, since my parents live in the woods and we have way too many animals that would probably eat all the produce because we could get to it. An indoor herb garden might work, though - if we can get enough sun. :)

  • I like to grow from seeds, it is exciting watching the plant sprout!

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