Talking about gardening, the dictionary definitions are right on the mark but tedious nonetheless. Going by the definition of one encyclopedia, gardening is “the act of cultivating or tending a garden” while another defines it as “the work or activity of a gardener”. According to the www.whatisgardening.com site, “gardening is the art of activity of tending and cultivating a piece of ground which becomes a garden”.
To put gardening in perspective, it can be described as a task or undertaking where one tills the soil in a systematic and organized manner preparing the earth for growing plants and trees. In a strict sense, the activity of preparing the land for cultivating plants when done professionally is termed ‘horticulture’ and is variously referred to as floriculture, arboriculture, cultivation, or ‘agriculture’. Alternatively, when someone follows it amateurishly albeit with passion, planting saplings of different species of flowers, fruits, and vegetables during one’s leisure time gardening becomes more of a pastime or hobby.
Nursing flowering bearing plants, shrubs, bushes, and herbs amplifies the frontage or backyard of a house. On the other hand, growing fruits and vegetables in the garden for home consumption reduces your monthly grocery bill considerably, ultimately helping you to save money. However, the biggest benefit of gardening is that the activity helps keep one in touch with nature as well as maintains the individual’s physical and mental health.
Types of Garden/Gardening
Gardening, if done with fervor and passion, can be intensely fulfilling and not simply remain limited to mere planting of saplings and plantlets. Depending on the regional climate and the topographical pattern of where you stay, you can take the hobby to an artistic level by exploiting your creative skills. There are different kinds of gardens, each with its distinctive gardening style that you can choose from, and give a free rein to your passion and creativity for designing exactly the type of garden you had in mind.
Following are some of the various kinds of specialty gardens and gardening styles:-
- Urban Garden
Gone are the days when people used to have sprawling gardens in the front or back of their homes located within a city’s downtown or fringe areas. Space inside the majority of houses is at a premium nowadays and only the super rich can afford to have sufficient outdoor real estate to turn the premises into a garden. For the rest of the mainstream, rooftop gardening and container gardening are two viable options.
You can lay the foundations for a small garden on your house’s roof but will have to take scrupulous care for maintaining it in order to provide shelter from inclement weather. If you own a flat on the 2nd or 5th floor, obviously you may not have access to the apartment’s roof. In such a scenario, you can put potted plants and bonsais in the balcony.
- Environmental Garden
You can pick and choose from xeriscapes-rock garden and desert garden-or rainwater garden (and there are other types as well) if you wish to do your bit for the environment. In xeriscape gardening, you grow plants, trees, grasses, and shrubs that have adapted themselves to survive in extremes of weather and make do with little water. Rain gardens as the terminology makes it amply clear are developed by excavating pits or craters in the soil for collecting rainwater which irrigates the seedlings and growing vegetation.
- Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens are typified by their emphasis on details including having a cobbled path with a bower or gazebo adorned with lanterns. Bridges and overpasses with balustrades on either side also feature in many a Japanese garden. However, water is an integral component of such gardens and is usually represented by a basin or trough surrounding the premise.
- Aquatic Garden
You can develop an aquatic garden replete with water lilies, lotuses, and cattails that will definitely add to the ambience of the surroundings. You can even go for an indoor water garden. Depending upon your preferences, availability of space, and investment capability, you can choose to have a small pond, fountain, waterfall, or a stream.
- Tropical Garden
If you are interested in a tropical garden, you’ll need to equip yourself with knowledge about tropical plants before you proceed to buy the saplings in order to take proper care. Geraniums, Caladiums, Cannnas, Elephant Ears, Begonias and Impatiens are some tropical plants you can tend to in the garden.
- Woodland Garden
If you wish to become one with Nature, you can mull over developing a woodland garden filled with wildflower and woody plants that call for minimal maintenance.
Benefits of Gardening
If you take up gardening in your spare or leisure time, you’ll be able to reap a host of benefits. On one hand, you’ll be basking in the lap of nature. On the other you’ll stay in the pink of health as you’ll have to carry out a range of activities requiring you to be on your toes for at least a couple of hours. Nurturing and maintaining a garden is akin to taking a full-scale vacation-you move about a lot, your spouse and children take turns to help you out making it a family affair and you get to live off the fat of the garden.
After working for hours in the garden, you get to savor the fruits of your labor-organic fruits and vegetables free from toxic pesticides and loaded with all the nutrients that your body needs on a daily basis. Following are some benefits you can enjoy if you become a home gardener.
Stay healthy- physically and mentally
Gardening not only keeps you physically active but also stimulates you mentally. Your muscles, bones, and joints are kept in good humor on one hand while on the other the grey cells are exercised keeping you mentally alert.
Working in a modern-day office with extended working hours and fluctuating schedules can easily tire you out. You may not always have the time to go for a long walk but you can easily spend half to one hour in your garden which can go a long way in soothing your frayed nerves and de-stressing you.
Source of abundant and pure nutrients
You do not need to add fertilizers, pesticides, and manures to the plants and trees in your garden as you don’t intend to sell the produce in the market. So, you get to consume vegetables and fruits that are completely organic.
Apart from nurturing a garden in the backyard of your home, you can lend a helping hand for creating and enriching a community garden in the local parish, in your children’s school or in the neighborhood park. Participating in community gardening brings you in touch with other like-minded gardeners.
10 Essentials of Gardening
While laying the foundations for a garden, there are specific gardening tools that you will find indispensable for different tasks including digging, tilling, pruning, and harvesting. Though the basic tools that will be required will more or less remain the same, there might be slight variance in the shape and size of the implements depending upon the topography and climate of the region. Your personal needs and preferences will also have an impact on the sort of tools you’ll have to source for your gardening project.
Following are the top 10 essential garden tools that a typical gardener may not be able to do without:-
You’ll find scissors absolutely essential when you need to nip deadheads, small rotten twigs, open a potting soil bag, and for numerous other activities. The sort of scissors you’ll choose will depend upon the type of plants, shrubs, and bushes you’ve. Simple household scissors would be sufficient for the aforementioned chores while for pruning moderately large twigs and stems, you may need a larger, hardwearing pair of scissors.
A soil knife looks very much like the vegetable peeler in your home but there are differences though as far as its structure is concerned. The soil knife is basically a Japanese invention with a concaved blade having a serrated edge on one side and a knife-like sharpened surface at the other. The soil knife comes handy when you need to section roots, knifing sods, transplant, taking out bonsais from pots, and slicing perennials.
Weeders, as the jargon clearly signifies are designed for the purpose of weeding out and more often than not they’re called ‘dandelion diggers’ or ‘dandelion weeders’. Weeders are largely used for ferreting out bluegrass, weeds with taproots, wood sorrels that sit pretty inside the ground.
Wands and hoses
Watering your garden on a regular basis is a task that you cannot give a miss or compromise with simply because plants like all life forms cannot survive and grow without water. You don’t need to be a botanist to realize this simple fact. Go for a quality hose complete with a flexible wand and shut-off valve.
Shears for pruning
Apart from watering the plants and shrubs, you’ll also have to see to it that they do not appear unwieldy. Stems, twigs, branches, and leaves just like your hairs keep growing continuously. If you do not trim the undergrowths routinely, the foliage will make your garden appear like a small, dense thicket rendering it a fertile breeding ground for insects, creepers, and serpents. You’ve a solution at hand with manual or handheld shears or if you want to spruce and nip growths that cannot be easily accessed, you can go for a Hayabusa pruning pole.
Rakes come in handy for spreading and turning compost, manure, mulch, and leaves. A rake can also be used for pouring soil in a depression for sapling and thereafter smoothening out the soil to match other sections of the surface.
Shovels serve similar purposes as rakes but do the tasks more efficiently. A small and compact shovel that comes with a short handle but long and slender blade is better suited for digging holes and scooping out earth compared to one that has a long handle and a blade that is broader.
When you need to scrape out the roots lying just below the layer of top soil, you’ll be holding a loop hoe. The corners or edges of the loop hoe are designed in a meticulous manner so that they help in weeding out the roots.
You’ll surely need saws at some stage and your specific gardening requirements and inclinations will decide the type or types. You can use a flush cut pull saw for slicing large limbs of woody plants or a metal-framed, bow-styled crosscut saw for clipping unwieldy shrubs and trimming small scrawny plants and trees.
A sun hat
A Mexican sombrero or a sun hat would shield your head from the toxic UVA and UVB rays of the sun when you’re knee-deep into gardening during the height of summer.
12 Other Must Haves for Gardening
Gardening will become more of a leisure and less of a drab chore if you can manage to add some of the below mentioned implements to your horticulture tool kit:-
- Soaker Hose: For watering underground plant parts like roots, root caps, rhizomes and tubers, soaker hoses are perfectly apt.
- Portable Tubs: Ribbed tubs are ideal for collecting garden produce and weeds as well as for lugging water. The hardwearing grooved tubs are not only flexible and washable but also last for year
- Twin-chambered Composter: You can store more weeds, manure, and mulch for composting than you can imagine in a twin-chambered composter.
- Scooter: Gardening work can be backbreaking and stress you out at the end of the day. A garden scooter that comes with a permanently attached basket will let you collect the harvest or weeds comfortably.
- Lawn Mower: Keep the grass in your garden perfectly smooth and lush with a lawn mower, preferably a battery-operated model. Go for a product that is handy and can be compacted down for putting away without occupying too much space.
- Leaf Shredder: A lead shredder comes handy for fine mincing of dead leaves that you can later on transfer to the composter for curing. You can mix the compost with the garden soil for enhancing its fertility.
- Flexible Gloves: Replace your big and awkward gloves with flexible ones that are coated with nitrile. You can wash these gloves after you’re done with gardening at the end of the day.
- Gardening Cart: Carry new saplings, fruits and vegetables produce, and mulch in a cart whose weight is distributed on the wheels instead of the handle making it easier for you to push or pull.
- Cultivator: A weeder or a cultivator with a long handle and a sharp blade is the way to go for weeding or digging activities without hurting your back or knees.
- Hand Rakes: A handheld rake with a softwood handle and stainless steel spikes will come to your aid when you have to remove leaves and twigs from areas that are hard to reach.