13 Ways to Take Your Garden From Good to Great

Updated: Jul. 24, 2023

From better potting mix to saying no to pesticides, improve your yard with this gardener's dozen.

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Closeup of hand of woman gardener trimming plants with pruning shears in garden center
Dean Drobot/Shutterstock

Get a Great Garden

All gardeners are proud of their hard work. But if you have a thriving, happy green space and want to take it to the next level, check out our list of smart, easy tips to really make your garden shine. From better potting mix to saying no to pesticides, improve your yard with this gardener’s dozen.

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Spring Planting/ planting organic seedlings in a raised garden bed
C Levers/Shutterstock

Use The Best Enriched Potting Mix

Make looking after container plants much simpler by choosing a premium potting mix that’s well-draining with long-lasting nutrients. Look for potting soil with peat moss, pine bark and perlite or vermiculite. It’s an easy-care way to achieve the best-ever displays.

Psst! Don’t forget to plan out your new garden in your garden journal.

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YeStar 33Inch Telescopic Watering Wand
via amazon.com

Invest in Top-Notch Tools

Introduce a long-handled weeding fork to your gardening tool kit; your knees and back will thank you. It’s worth examining what new tool designs are available. Many have been created to reduce strain on joints and ease gripping so you can garden in comfort.

But if you only invest in one garden tool, make it a well-made pair of shears. They make all the difference in your everyday pruning tasks. Keep them clean and sharp, and you’ll deadhead with ease and cut your shrubs cleanly to minimize the risk of damage and disease. Throw in a pruning saw for big jobs so you won’t be tempted to blunt or break your shears on thick stems.

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plant bulbs tulip flowers vegetables garden gardening

Pot Bulbs in Layers

Bulbs are self-sufficient, so you can pack them into pots for spring and summer displays. Try layering a selection of bulbs with different planting depths and staggered flowering times in a container for a continuous, long-lasting show.

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Drip Irrigation System
Family Handyman

Take the Work Out of Watering

Drought-busting irrigation systems make watering a breeze instead of a chore, even with lots of pots. Link patio plants with a hose-and-dripper system, add an automatic timer to your tap, then sit back and relax, knowing your plants will thrive.

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Bush (hydrangea) cutting or trimming with secateur in the garden

Plant Long-Lasting Flowers

Take a second look at old favorites. Horticulturists have produced new varieties that flower longer. They include billowing hydrangeas, easy-care lavenders and the versatile, trouble-free Oso Easy Double Red rose from Proven Winners, which continuously blooms from early to late summer. Check out these 10 low-maintenance flowers you (practically) can’t kill.

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cage over vegetable plant
Peter Turner Photography/shutterstock

Thwart Pests the Natural Way

Garden fabric or netting is a traditional, foolproof way to prevent hungry backyard wildlife from feasting on your homegrown produce. A few clever tools for this include pop-up netting tents and no-fuss covers designed to protect raised veggie beds. And introduce natural, noninvasive predators like ladybugs into the garden. Ladybugs devour huge quantities of pesky aphids. You can buy a legion via mail from specialty suppliers. Release them into your garden at dusk to encourage them to stick around and get to work.

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dirt tomato support

Support Your Plants

Cane, hoop and ring supports can transform your borders, lifting those floppy stems and preventing plants from dropping over paths. The secret with plant supports is getting them in early before the plant grows too much. As the plant thrives its stems and leaves disguise the support, giving your garden an effortless well-groomed look.

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shade tolerant purple flower
Photo: Walters Gardens Inc

Plant Perennials in Big, Beautiful Drifts

Make a bigger splash with gorgeous flowering perennials by planting them in groups of three, five or even seven. It’s much easier to make a natural-looking grouping by arranging odd, rather than even, numbers of plants. Follow recommended planting distances, and the plants soon will grow together to create an exciting mass of color.

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PropagateWoman Planting Succulent Plant At Home
Esra Karakose / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Learn the Secrets of Plant Propagation

Master the art of propagation, and soon your garden will be filled with organically grown plants. Start by sowing the seeds of your favorite flowers. Once they’ve flowered, let a few plants go to seed. (Be prepared for some surprises if they are hybrids, which don’t always come true from seeds.) Then harvest and store the seeds so they’re ready to plant the following year.

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Banish Weeds with Organic Mulch

Lock moisture into your soil and smother weeds by giving your beds, and even your containers, a thick layer of organic mulch. Use hearty garden compost such as chopped-up leaves, grass clippings without weedkillers, evergreen needles or composted manure for lusher plantings. Your soil will hold water better.

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Gardener deadheading roses bush
Lex20/Getty Images

Deadhead to Keep the Flowers Coming

One of the secrets of spectacular summer flower displays is to pick or snip off dead flower heads regularly. This prevents the plants from setting seed, encouraging them to produce flush after flush of beautiful blooms. Deadhead annuals and most perennials to guarantee a longer season of flowering color from your garden.

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Go Vertical

Maximize your growing space with pocket wall planters. Fill them with colorful flowers to brighten vertical surfaces or grow salads and leafy herbs, like basil and parsley. You could add edible flowers such as nasturtiums or violas to pep up your salads and your backyard display.

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raised garden beds
Family Handyman

Grow Veggies in Raised Beds

A raised bed kit takes little time to assemble and makes a neat and productive home for your vegetables. Container aficionados will tell you the soil require less attention and fewer weeds will threaten your veggies. Just add a thick layer of garden compost or well-rotted manure whenever the soil is bare, and let the worms take it down into the soil for you. Here are a dozen vegetables you can grow in pots.