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6 gardening tips you'll wish you'd known all along

Want a green lawn and a garden full of beautiful plants? Start here.

Chris Monroe/CNET

When the weather gets warm, we all want to flock outside and enjoy our outdoor spaces. If your garden is more weeds than flowers, or you feel cursed with a black thumb, hope is not all lost.

This is gardening week, and we're tackling everything you need to know about planting, watering, maintaining your lawn and growing your own food. It doesn't matter if you have two acres or two feet of balcony space, you can create a lush garden.

Now playing: Watch this: 3 reasons to upgrade to a smart sprinkler system

How to know what to grow

Before you start eyeing those succulents or lemon trees at the garden store, check your hardiness zone. These zones tell you what kinds of plants will survive in your garden all year long, depending on the average minimum winter temperature in your area. It should be your first step in determining what kinds of plants to buy -- especially if you are ordering them online.


Save water and money by watering deep once per week.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Water less, water smarter

Your lawn and garden needs water to stay healthy, but you might be watering more often than you need to. CNET's Alina Bradford explains that you should be watering "deep" once per week. That means when you turn on the sprinklers every week, you should ensure your garden gets an inch of water.

Learn everything else you can do to water your garden more efficiently, so you save water and money.

The key to a lush, green lawn

A lush green lawn is a garden staple, but it's not easy to keep looking green. Lawn maintenance is important all year long, but especially in the hot summer months.

Mowing correctly can go a long way. In the summer, make sure your lawn stays at about 4 inches tall. The extra height helps your grass retain more moisture in the searing sun. Learn the right way to mow your lawn and how to keep your lawn healthy this summer.

If your lawn mower has a few years on it, it's time for maintenance. Brian Bennett shows you how to tune up your lawn mower by changing the oil, sharpening the blades, and more. Sharp blades are important to get a clean cut, which helps your grass stay healthy so it doesn't die off during the hot summer months.

Garbage is the secret to a healthy garden

For a cheap and easy way to keep your flowers and plants looking beautiful, look to coffee grounds. What would normally get tossed out can be used all around your garden to keep pests away, enhance your soil, and beef up your compost pile. Check out Taylor Martin's guide to five ways to use coffee in the garden.

Don't just stop there, you can use lots of other food scraps in the garden to boost your plant's growth.

If you're ready to go a step further with your food waste, consider starting a compost pile. They are simple to set up and provide an endless supply of fertilizer for your plants.

How to grow vegetables in an apartment

No backyard? That shouldn't stop you from creating a garden. Plenty of plants are happy grown in a pot as part of a container garden. If you have an outdoor balcony, you can grow tomatoes, green beans and other plants that require a bit more space and lots of sunlight.

If all you have room for is a few potted plants inside, you can still successfully grow herbs, carrots, lettuce and other vegetables. Check out our guide to creating an herb garden for a simple way to get started growing your own food.

Another great option is to use a Wi-Fi-enabled gardening system. They take all of the guesswork by automatically giving your plants the right amount of light and water. These systems are compact, so they can fit easily on a kitchen counter or side table.

Bring the technology outside

Alexa does great outdoors and can be a wonderful gardening companion. You can use Alexa to get gardening advice before you even head outdoors. It can also help you water smarter, but giving you detailed weather information and reminding you when to water your plants. Check out all of the other ways Alexa can help in the garden.

If you're still using an old-school sprinkler system, it's time for an upgrade. Today's smart sprinkler systems are easy to use and they create custom schedules based on your soil, climate and the types of plants in your garden. Still not convinced? Here are 6 reasons to make the switch to a smart sprinkler.

Can technology grow a better garden? We test the latest gardening tech at the Smart Home.

CNET's Guide to Smart Living is a destination for tips, tricks and guides that make your life smarter.