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6 Gardening Tips Every Beginner Should Know This Summer

Want a green lawn and a garden full of beautiful plants? Put these hacks to the test.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Macy Meyer Editor I
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn't writing, she's volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
Expertise Macy covers a variety of topics across CNET's Home and Wellness teams, including home security, smart home tech, fitness, nutrition, travel, lifestyle and more. Credentials
  • Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
Sarah Mitroff
Macy Meyer
4 min read
garden tools

Got a black thumb? Try these six gardening tricks. 

Taylor Martin/CNET

Warm summer weather is upon us, and that means you're probably itching to flock outside and enjoy your outdoor spaces. If your garden is more weeds than flowers, or you feel cursed with a black thumb, fortunately not all hope is lost. 

It doesn't matter if you have two acres or two feet of balcony space, you can still create a lush garden wherever you live. You just need to follow these six gardening tips. For more, check out the best locations for plants in your home, and the best indoor plants for low light, clean air and easy care.  

1. 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.

sprinkler spraying lawn

Save water and money by watering deep once per week.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

2. 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 has written 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.

3. Get your mower tuned up

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.

electric mower

Tune up for mower to get the perfect summer lawn. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

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. You can 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.

4. Don't throw garbage away

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. 

Don't just stop there, you can use lots of other food scraps in the garden to boost your plant's growth, from tea bags and banana peels to potatoes and salad mix. 

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.

5. Grow vegetables without a garden

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 CNET's 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.

6. Bring tech outdoors

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 by 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 six reasons to make the switch to a smart sprinkler.

You can also check out four easy ways to keep your plants alive while you're travelinghow to grow your own herbs at home and tips for using an AeroGarden.

For more gardening tips, find out: