1. If you have deer, their presence will dominate your life as a gardener. Either fence them out or learn about deer resistant plants. And remember the “deer resistant” can be a very optimistic term.
2. Indulge your inpulse-shopping in annuals, but do a little research before you make a long term commitment to a perennial. A couple minutes spent in reading can save you a lot of grief later. It will take more than just a plant’s tag to tell you whether it is suited for your garden. The compact shrub you remember from your childhood may now come in five different sizes and ten different colors.
3. Use soaker hoses. If you plant things that need a lot of watering in our climate (you could avoid that, though – see later sections), you don’t want to have to stand there with your hose or to waste water with a sprinker. Instead, buy a long soaker hose and some metal hairpin-shaped pins. Lay the hose in your garden bed in an S shaped pattern, and then cover it with mulch.
4. Keep track of what you plant. Don’t think you will remember (you won’t) or that you won’t care about the exact botanical and cultivar name (you will). See later chapters for suggestions on how, and start doing this right from the beginning.
5. Feed your plants! Plants need nutrients as much as you do. A flower that is stuck into unimproved clay is not going to be very happy. The best way to do this is to amend your soil with organic materials., but if necessary you can use slow release fertilizer to greatly increase your yield of flowers and vegetables.
6. Mulch! Not only does mulch instantly dress up your garden, it offers essential cooling for the soil and reduces water loss. You can make your own or bring it in, but don’t skimp on it.