Five DIY Gardening Tips That Can Be Done Without a Professional’s Help

A Chicago professional gardener weighs in on how to make our thumbs a bit greener.

As the weather warms up and the days start getting longer, it is the time that flowers and plants are really able to bloom. The trees are growing in fullness, grass is transitioning from burnt orange to green – Chicago is getting its color back. While little can be done to spruce up my five-by-four balcony, homeowners with the luxury of backyard space have the opportunity to show off their green thumb. That is, if they have one.

Not everyone has that special touch that makes plans and flowers live through the season. And while professionals can be called in to resurrect the damage, their assistance can also break the bank. That’s why ESTATENVY sat down with Kathy Simpson of Chicago’s KMS Gardens and Design and Rochelle Greayer from PITH + VIGOR gardening blog to hear more about some of their favorite DIY gardening tips that don’t require the assistance of a professional.

Avoid one mess at a time

If anyone has gone to the store to buy plants for their garden, they know that it can be a messy task. Even though gardening is a great family activity from start to end, it can lead to spilled dirt that requires a lot of time to clean up. To avoid that extra work, line your trunk with tarp or garbage bags before heading to the store to pick out your plants. Set up different spaces or compartments for each plant to go in. Step ladders work great when they placed on the side, as they have perfect sized slots for each plant to go into, preventing them from tipping and spilling dirt all over the backseat.

Don’t let the skyline cramp your style

In a city like Chicago, where sprawling high rises and residential buildings fill its skyline, large and spacious gardens aren’t always easily obtainable. Homeowners with their sights set on luscious greenery have to really become familiar with the space they are working with.

“Proper watering is imperative,” explained Simpson. “Especially in city gardens where natural irrigation can often be blocked by buildings and tight spaces.”

If rainfall comes through and some of the plants are blocked, be sure to give those areas some extra TLC when tending to the garden to make sure everything comes in as lush as possible.

Approach the situation one pot at a time

Do you ever look at a laundry list of tasks and find it less daunting to attack the tasks one by one? That same approach can be applied to gardening. With a full, blooming garden, it can be hard to figure out which area to focus on first. But according to Greayer, there’s a trick to follow.

“Plant containers under the soil and put one plant in each container,” explained Greayer. “That way you can adjust your care to one plant at a time, and not worry that you may be over caring for another.”

With the containers under the soil, garden viewers will not know that they are being used. They are a great dirty, yet organized, little secret.

One size does not always fit all

Different plants come with their own requirements. It’s a common misconception that plants with enough water and direct sunlight with automatically thrive—it all depends on the specific type of plant that you’re working with.

For example, hydrangeas require only a little bit of morning sun, while lavender will bloom with the sun beating down on it all day, every day. These qualities will help a homeowner know where exactly each plant should go in their garden to make the best use of their space and time.

“Think about how you will use the space and make that your priority in layout and plant material,” explained Simpson, “Be sure you are choosing the right plant for the right place, as that will go a long way towards plant longevity and lower maintenance.”

Save some vinegar for your garden weeds

While home and garden stores are lined with different weed killers, this task can be completed with a simple house hold item. Vinegar.

The strong scented product is typically associated with cleaning, but not gardening. Vinegar has been proven to be a superhero fighting against weeds. Simply pour the liquid in a spray bottle and fully saturate the weed, and it will not stand a chance. However, vinegar works this way on all plants. So be careful not to get your desired flowers or plants with the solution or else they will wilt away right alongside the weeds.