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Gardening Basics for Dummies

Down-to-earth gardening info boiled down to the basics!

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Here's the detailed Table of Contents:

Basic Gardening For Dummies
Steven A. Frowine

Introduction 6pp

Part I. Getting Growing 2pp

Chapter 1: Getting to Know Gardening (Dummies chapter 1) 8 pp
Here’s the most basic explanation of the kinds of plants that you’ve never heard before. But getting a sense of how plants are similar and different is the first step in turning a brown thumb green.
Annual plants
Perennial plants
Woody stems
Shrubs, vines, trees, ground covers

Chapter 2: Creating Your Own Eden 14 pp
What kind of garden is your ideal? By assessing your needs, you can come up with the best garden for you.

Learning about where you live
Making the most of your backyard
For the Kids
For the Pets
For Entertainment
For Retreat
For your Kitchen
Taking stock of your space
Taking careful inventory
Identifying problems you need to solve
Using your assets
Using existing spaces
Developing your vision
Making a creative wish list of
Choosing a style
Dry Climate
Let’s get real: How much money can you invest?
Getting estimates

Chapter 3: Everything You Need to Know About Zones 12 pp
Zones are made up of climate, weather, and plants. Most plants grow best in roughly the same temperatures and humidity that people enjoy. But some plants like it cooler, some warmer. This chapter will explain what grows best where.

USDA Plant Zones
Cold temperature hardiness
Surviving winter
Hot temperature hardiness
AHS Heat Zones
Combining high and low temperature
Regional adaptability
Sunset Zones
Growing seasons
How long is your growing season
Stretching your growing season

Chapter 4: Mapping a Real Plan 16 pp
Now you’ve got a good idea of the kind of garden and landscape you want to have, the features you want, and its style. This chapter will help you make a plan.

Collecting ideas
The best of books and magazines
Moving your ideas to your space
Defining areas
Marking out rough dimensions
Sketching your plan on paper
Keep it informal, not perfect
Using landscape design software
Knowing when, and how, to ask for help
Landscape architects
Landscape designers
Master gardeners
General contractors

Chapter 5: Prepping the Garden 16 pp

What plants need to grow
Physical stability
Preparing soil
Using compost
Watering systems
Fertilizer Facts

Chapter 6: Gardening Gear 18 pp
All the equipment and tools you’ll need to get your gardening started.
Digging tools
Trowels and shovels
Signs of quality
Cultivating tools
Hoes and weeders
How to buy
Cutting tools
Hand pruners
Hand shears
Pruning saws
Wheelbarrows and carts
Watering tools
Different sizes and types
Hose-end sprinklers
Water timers
Basic drip watering systems
(See Lawns chapter for underground sprinkler systems)
Power tools
Chain saws
Weed trimmers
Caring for power tools
(See Lawns chapter for lawn mowers)

Part II: Growing Color 2 pp

Chapter 7: Growing Annuals 18 pp
This chapter will tell the reader all they need to know about choosing, planting and caring for annuals.
What makes an annual
Some like it hot
Some like it cool
When annuals bloom
Mixing and matching annuals
Using shape, height, and structure
Designing for fragrance
Combining colors
Annual plans: Two or three sample plans that readers can follow .
How to buy annuals
Seeds packets
Nursery starts
When to plant
Where to plant
Taking Care of Annuals
Annual Pests

Our Favorite Annuals
(Each plant is briefly introduced, key varieties identified, and growing basics outlined. A close-up of each flower is included in the color sections)
Coleus, Cornflower, Cosmos, Flowering tobacco, Geranium, Impatiens, Lobelia, Madagascar periwinkle, Marigold, Pansy, Petunia, Poppy, Sage, Spider flower, Verbena, Zinnia

Selection lists integrated as sidebars into the preceding
Annuals for sun
Annuals for shade

Chapter 7: Growing Perennials 18 pp
This chapter will tell the reader all they need to know about choosing, planting and caring for perennials.

What makes a perennial
Hardy perennials
Tender perennials
When perennials bloom
Using perennials
Designing beds and borders
Thinking of colors
Perennial plans: Two or three schematic plans (as in annuals chapter, above)
How to buy perennials
Container plants
Free divisions from friends
When to plant perennials
Where to plant
Dry soil
Wet soil
Taking care of perennials
Supporting with stakes or rings
Perennial Pests

Our favorite perennials
Astilbe, Black-eyed Susan, coneflower, Chrysanthemum, Common sundrops, Daylily, Euphorbia, Ferns, Hardy geranium, Hellebore, Hosta, Iris, Lady’s-mantle, Lily-of-the-Nile, Lungwort, Meadow phlox, Ornamental grasses, Peony, Primrose, Purple coneflower, Tickseed, Upright sedum

Chapter 8: Growing Bulbs 16 pp
Plant them, forget them, and wait to be surprised. Along with perennials, bulbs provide some of the earliest color in northern gardens, and bulbs bloom in all seasons, spring through fall. This chapter will tell the reader all they need to know about choosing, planting and caring for bulbs.

What bulbs are and what they do
Different kinds of bulbs
When bulbs bloom
Combining bulbs
Combinations of tulips
Combinations of daffodils
Combinations of different kinds of bulbs
Planting plans for bulbs
How to buy bulbs
Home stores and nurseries
When to plant bulbs
Spring blooming bulbs
Summer blooming bulbs
Fall blooming bulbs
Where to plant bulbs
(Also see Container Gardening, page xxx)
Taking care of bulbs
Bulb pests

Our favorite bulbs
Allium, Caladium, Clivia, Colchicum, Crocosmia, Crocus, Daffodil, Dahlia, Fritillaria, Gladiolus, Grape hyacinth, Hyacinth, Lily, Ranunculus, Siberian squill, Tuberous begonia, Tulip

Chapter 9: Growing Roses 20 p
What can roses do for you? Just about anything. Long-lived, garden color, indoor bouquets, seductive scent—you name it. This chapter will tell the reader all they need to know about choosing, planting and caring for roses.

A rose is more than a corsage
Kinds of roses
Size: Big to tiny
Bloom habit
Spring bloom
Repeat bloom
Classes of roses
Hybrid tea, grandiflora, etc.
Using roses
Ground cover
Beds and borders
Cut flowers
Rose plans: Two or three schematic planting plans that feature roses
How to buy roses
At nursery
Bare root plant
Mail order
When to plant roses
Bare root roses in late winter or early spring
Container roses through the early growing season
How to plant roses
Bare root
Taking care of roses
Guide for each of the different types
Maximizing winter hardiness
Rose Pests
(Some of the most desirable roses are pest prone. Diseases such as blackspot and rust are common. So are insects such as aphids and Japanese beetles.)

Our favorite roses
Climbing roses, Floribunda roses, Grandiflora roses, Ground cover roses, Hybrid tea roses, Miniature roses, Modern shrub roses, Old garden roses, Polyantha roses, Species roses, and hybrids

Part III: Creating a Permanent Landscape 2 pp

Chapter 10: Growing a Perfect Lawn 24 pp
The way a perfect lawn is reasonable if approached gradually, by doing the right thing month to month and year to year. If you do, eventually you’ll have one fine-looking lawn.

Taking care of the lawn you’ve got
What kind of grass do you have?
Basic maintenance
Organic vs. inorganic
When to fertilizing
How often
How high
Table of mowing heights
Kinds of lawn mowers
Push or self-propelled
Mulching or not
Specialized, more expensive
Basic mower maintenance
Trouble shooting
How to start a balking lawn mower
How to do mowing patters like the sports stadiums
How to make a crummy lawn better
Making a lawn from scratch
Designing a lawn
Preparing the soil
Watering systems
Portable watering systems

Seed or sod?
Advantages and disadvantages
Lawns from seed
Preparing soil
Buying the highest quality seed you can find
Named varieties only
How much seed to use
Table of quantities
How to spread seed
By hand
Rotary spreader
In water: Hydroseeding
Winter overseeding
One page drawing that shows the steps of sowing a lawn from seed
Lawns from sod
Advantages and disadvantages
Water water water
Lawns from sprigs and plugs
One page drawing that shows the steps of sodding a lawn
Our favorite lawn grasses
Cool season, northern grasses: Kentucky bluegrass; Other bluegrasses; Fine fescues; Perennial ryegrass; Bentgrass
Transition zone, intermediate grass: Tall fescue
Warm season, southern grasses: Bermuda grass; Zoysia grass; St. Augustine grass; Centipede grass; Carpet grass

Chapter 11: Growing Trees and Shrubs 24 pp
Trees are normally the biggest and longest-lived plants in our yards, which is why giving serious thought to selection and placement is so important. A mistake costs a lot of time, not to mention expense. Conversely, a good choice adds immeasurably to the good looks of your home, and your comfort.

Is it a Tree or a Shrub?
Kinds of Trees
Where to plant trees
Calculating reasonable spacing
Planting to conserve energy
Using the right kind of tree for where you live
When to plant trees
How to plant trees
Amendment or not?
Container plants
Bare root
Illustrations in side view to show idealized planting of all three techniques
Taking care of trees
When to prune
Training pruning of young trees
Maintenance pruning of mature trees
This a job for professional arborist
How to find the right tree professional
What to expect
Our favorite trees
Atlas cedar, Dogwood, Callery pear, Chinese pistache, Crape myrtle, Eastern redbud, European beech, False cypress, Fir, Flowering cherry, Flowering crabapple, Fringe tree, Hemlock, Heritage River Birch, Hornbeam, Jacaranda, Japanese cedar, Katsura tree, Magnolia, Maple, Norway spruce, Oaks, Olive, Pine, Shadbush

Kinds of shrubs
Where to plant shrubs
When to plant shrubs
How to plant shrubs
Amendment or not?
Container plants
Bare root
Illustrations in side view to show idealized planting of all three techniques
Taking care of shrubs
When to prune
Rejuvenation pruning
Our favorite shrubs
Azaleas and rhododendrons, Boxwood, Butterfly bush, Camellia, Cotoneaster, Forsythia, Heath and heather, Hydrangea, Juniper, Kerria, Lilac, Mountain laurel, Mountain pieris, Mugo pine, Oleander, Ornamental grasses, Redtwig dogwood, Smoke tree, Spirea, Viburnum. Witch hazel, Yew

Chapter 12: Growing Vines and Groundcovers 20 pp
Both kinds of plants are versatile, adapting to the use you put them, conforming to the shapes they cover. Normally, vines cover the vertical plain and most have specialized structures to help them do so. In contrast, ground covers cover the horizontal plain. Some plants, notably winter euonymus, serve as either.

Kinds of vines
Hardy or tender
Woody and not
Fruiting or fruitless
Choosing a vine
Site considerations
How vines climb
Adhesive disks
Sprawling with hooks
Supporting vines
Trellises, fences, arbors
Other trees and shrubs
Pruning vines
When to prune vines
Removing dead and wayward branches
To promote flowering
To guide growth

Our favorite vines
Akebia, Black-eyed Susan vine, Boston ivy, Bougainvillea, Carolina Jessamine, Clematis, Climbing hydrangea, Dutchman’s pipe, Grape, Honeysuckle, Hop vine, Hyacinth bean vine, Jasmine, Kiwi, Lilac vine, Morning glory, Passion flower, Trumpet creeper, Violet trumpet vine, Wisteria

Kinds of ground covers
How ground covers spread
Choosing a ground cover
Height and spread
Special physical quality, such as deep roots for stabilizing a slope
Capacity to grow
Dry soil
Poor soil
Flowering or bare
Foliage color
Maintaining ground covers
When to prune (or mow)
Trimming edges
Getting weeds out
Keeping weeds out

Our favorite ground covers
Aaron’s beard, Bearberry, Bishop’s hat, Bugleweed, Bunchberry, Carpet bugle, Cotoneaster, Creeping lily turf, Creeping thyme, Dwarf periwinkle, Dwarf plumbago, English ivy, Hardy geranium, Japanese spurge, Juniper, Knotweed, Ornamental grasses, Rosemary, Siberian carpet cypress, Sweet woodruff

(By their aggressive, spreading nature, some vines and ground covers are invasive and you should avoid these plants.)
Sidebar or list of plants to avoid

Part IV: Growing Your Own Food 2 pp

Chapter 13: Growing Vegetables 22 pp
For the cost of a packet of seeds you can have home grown vegetables. Requirements are simple: good soil, moisture, and full sun. Growing your own vegetables can be fun and fairly easy for the beginner gardener, and this chapter will show you how.

Kinds of vegetables
Cool season vegetables
Warm season vegetables
Perennials, such as asparagus and rhubarb.
Biennials, such as celery
The growing season
Varieties of veggies
Varieties vary in many ways
Days to maturity
Match to your season length
Color and flavor
What’s a hybrid?
About F1, F2, F3 hybrids
Uniformity, predictability, disease resistance
What’s an heirloom
Saving your own seeds
How to buy vegetables
Seed packs
Markets, home stores and nurseries
Mail order
Nursery transplants
When to plant vegetables
Average frost dates
Where to plant vegetables
Fruiting veggies
Leafy or root veggies
How to plant vegetables
Preparing Soil
Planting seeds
Indoors, for transplant later
Directly in the garden
Planting transplants
Frames and supports
Harvesting vegetables
Harvest as you need
Building a vegetable garden
How much space do you need?
Planting patterns and systems
Raised beds
Natural beds
Built of wood or other material
Rows for larger gardens
Dealing with Pests
Vegetable garden sample plans: Two or three schematic plans for different kinds of vegetable gardens

Our favorite vegetables
Asparagus, Beans, Carrots, Cucumbers, Melons, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Pumpkins, Radishes, Salad greens, Squashes, Tomatoes

Chapter 14: Growing Herbs 18 pp
What is an herb? Generally, a plant with some well-known, useful feature, often an oil concentrated in leaves, sometimes a healthful property. This chapter will tell you how to grow, care for and use herbs.

Who’s Herb?
Culinary herbs
Medicinal herbs
Other herbs
Where to plant herbs
How to plant herbs
When to plant herbs
Where to plant herbs
Taking care of herbs
Harvesting herbs
Dealing with Pests
Herb garden sample plans: Two or three schematic plans for different kinds of herb gardens

Our favorite herbs
Basil, Bay, Bee balm, Borage, Chamomile, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Lavender, Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Lovage, Marjoram, Mints, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Sweet woodruff, Tarragon, Thyme

Chapter 15: Growing Fruits & Berries 18 pp
They take longer and require more care, but at harvest time the work is worth it. In almost every region of North America, there is a type of fruit (or variety of fruit) that is well adapted and fairly easy to grow.

Kinds of fruits
Low to the ground
Tall like a tree
Types of plants
Tree fruits
Vine fruits
Shrub fruits
Perennial fruits
Choosing fruits & berries
Disease and pest limitations
Buying fruits & berries
Container plants at local nursery
Bare root
Mail order
When to plant fruits & berries
Where to plant fruits & berries
How to plant fruits & berries
Preparing soil
Container plants
Bare root
Illustrations to show idealized planting of all three techniques
Taking care of fruits & berries
The basics of tree fruit pruning and training
Later winter pruning
Specific advice for each is noted in the description
Dealing with Pests
Organic pest control
Specific notable pests of each fruit are noted in the descriptions

Our favorite fruits & berries
Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Citrus, Fig, Grape, Kiwi, Peach and nectarine, Pear, Plum, Raspberry

Part V Having Fun Gardening 2 pp

Chapter 16: Gardening in Containers 18 pp
A container creates a stage on which you can present plants. There are many uses and purposes for containers, all covered here.

The best plants for containers
Kinds of containers
Materials: wood to concrete to steel to terra-cotta
Hanging baskets
Plastic, wood, wire lined with moss
Wall gardens
Getting the soil right
Purchasing a good quality soil mix
Peat moss and perlite
Making you own soil mix
Designing with Container Plants
Combining plants in containers
Arranging containers
Grouping various sized containers
Displaying containers on a tiered stand
Recipes for container designs: Two or three schematic plans (in the style of previous plans) to show sample container or tub plantings

Our favorite container plants
Annuals; Perennials; Bulbs; Trees and shrubs; Vegetables and herbs; Cactus and succulents; Tropicals

Chapter 17: Birds, Bees, and Butterflies 16 pp
When you garden with other creatures in mind two things happen: First, you wind up with a more attractive, more natural, more interesting garden. More importantly, you build a bridge to a realm of nature that might have been hidden to you, and that will very much expand you understanding of and appreciation for your own garden.

Inviting birds into your garden
We know what birds like
List of trees, shrubs, vines that notably support birds
Providing supplemental food from feeders
Providing water
Providing housing
Designing for birds
Inviting bees into your garden
Like Bees to Honey
Learning about honeybees
How to start
Solitary bees
Inviting butterflies into your garden
Two levels of butterfly gardening
Adults to visit that provide nectar
Plants for larvae to feed on
Our favorite butterfly plants
Butterfly bush; Lantana; Milkweed; Passion vine

Chapter 18: Ponds and Fish 12 pp
Water adds life to a garden. Whether it’s a barrel or tub with a few plants, or an inground, naturalistic pond, water is often cited as element that completes the garden.

Planning your water garden
Size and site
In ground or above ground
Projects with photos or drawings
Choosing a type
Flexible liner
Hard shell
Pond equipment
Bubblers and fountains
Pipes, valves, and fittings
Plants for water gardens
Maintaining your water garden

Part VI: Part Of Tens 2 pp

Chapter 19: Ten Questions Beginners Ask 4 pp

Chapter 20: Ten Worst Garden Pests 4 pp
Black spot disease
Cabbage looper
Colorado potato beetle
Cucumber beetle
Japanese beetle
Spider mites
Snails and slugs
Tomato hornworm

Chapter 21: Ten Quick and Fun or Handy Projects 4 pp
Hammocks, rubber tire swing, installing stepping stones, building a trellis, building a compost bin

Chapter 22: Ten Children’s Garden Projects 4 pp

Chapter 23:Ten Ways to be a Good Garden Citizen 4 pp