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gardening newbie here

Posted by suzannelan Alabama (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 20, 07 at 0:18

Hi, everyone. I don't know anything much about gardening. My 79-year-old m-i-l moved in with us last June. She loves gardening but hasn't done it in a long while, and she has never lived in this part of the country before, so neither of us knows what to plant and when.

I would like to start with something easy. Eventually I would like to plant a vegetable garden but I would like to start with flowers or whatever is easiest. She has bad arthritis in her knees, so my guess is that I will be doing most of the work. The only thing I ever did in the past was a) I once had a houseplant or two but they didn't last long, and b) when we sold our last house, my friend who knows a lot more about gardening helped me pick out some flowers at Home Depot and we planted them in the front yard to make the house look nicer. To me it was hellish, it hurt my knees and my back and I didn't much like digging in the dirt and worms. :) But I did learn later that there is a thing you can buy that will make a hole for you much easier, very quickly, so that should help. I know I will have to put up with all this if I want to get this going.

Money is not a problem. I am willing to buy whatever I need to make this easy as possible for both of us. I want to start brightening up the yard and making things look nice, and give my m-i-l some projects (I know she can probably water, at least).

We have a big yard all around our house. The back yard has a fence to keep the dog in. Anything back there would be subject to digging. There is one area that used to have flowers, it has a wooden-log thing around it, but now it is all weesds and a big bush (which is probably a big weed, too), and he is pretty good about not digging there. There are places to hang plants, too.

In the front there is a semi-dead rose bush and a whole plot of earth that could be used for something. The dog does not go in the front without supervision. There is a whole fenced in area that used to be a dog run, we don't use it, so could maybe plant something there, but it is rather shady since trees droop over it. And lots of other grassy areas around the house that I could use. I'm really not sure where to start or what to use!

So please help me figure out what I can plant that is easy, will grow easy, and what tools I will need, or any books or online references you can suggest. Or maybe you could suggest some sort of professional I could call in this area to help get me started, or what store to go to for buying seeds etc.

Sorry this is so long. Please feel free to email me as well at


Suzanne Lanoue

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: gardening newbie here

If you live in tuscaloosa, I would suggest that you visit the UA arboretum some
time. They have some very nice gardens with annuals and perrenials that do nicely here. there are often nice volunteers that work in the greenhouses, AND they have spring and fall plant sales where people will answer basic questions.

After finding some things you might like to grow, you might just start small by buiding a small raised planting bed, and make your garden bigger later as you get more confidence.

Have fun!

RE: gardening newbie here

I don't think that the forum is your best bet for such broad based and sweeping guidance. Especially since we can't see the site, examine the conditions, etc.

I'd not hesitate for a second about finding some expert assistance to do a good 'walk-though' with you. It doesn't sound to me like you need a formal landscape need a horticultural consultant. Such a person could help you take soil tests, could evaluate the soil type, help you locate the potential planting locations on your property, and come up with some lists of plants for you. Plant removals, rejuvenation suggestions, and even a plant inventory could be done as part of such a job. Such a person could also write up a detailed maintenance program, too.

I believe that there is a community college with a horticulture program in Tuscaloosa. Call to see if it still exists. The instructor(s) will likely have a good idea of whom you can call in the area to help you....OR they might be able to do it themselves.

Your extension office will be of some preliminary help, too.

I sure do wish you good luck!

P.S. Next time you post a question, and I hope that there will be many might want to click the option to have your responses sent directly to your email. It might make it easier to get some good suggestions.

RE: gardening newbie here

Thanks to both of you!
Anyone can feel free to email me as well...

Suzanne Lanoue

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