7 Unique Gardening Habits To Become A Better Gardener

If you want to become a better gardener, it's important to adopt a few essential habits, inspired by the experts. In this article, Kevin lists 7 unique gardening habits many new gardeners overlook that can make you a better gardener.

Become a better gardener

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There are many little things incredible gardeners do to get amazing harvests and beautiful gardens. Most come from trial and error, but newbies can still learn a lot from the habits of seasoned gardeners.

This list is my summary of the 7 best gardening habits — the essentials that many new gardeners overlook or don’t consider important. Making these a regular part of your routine can take your garden to the next level. 

Compost Your Waste

Pile of vegetable and fruit scraps on a composting pit.
Composting helps eliminate food waste while also providing the best nutrients for your garden.

The act of composting is the secret weapon of incredible gardeners. They know how to make something from nothing. You can create an essential soil booster out of food scraps, wood chips, and other waste products many of us throw away without further thought.

Unfortunately, new gardeners often assume composting is more complicated than it is. The several composting myths spread throughout the internet certainly don’t help that.

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While you can dive deep into ratios, temperatures, and gadgets, composting doesn’t have to be technical. 

In reality, it’s a simple idea. Start with food waste, leaves, and yard debris, and come out the other side with rich compost to feed your soil. It doesn’t matter whether you use a compost tumbler, worm composter, indoor compost bin, or a simple pile in your backyard.  All that matters is you practice the habit of composting your waste materials.

Use Your Compost

Close up of a bucket with dirt and worms and a composting pile of food scraps in the background.
Utilize compost in a variety of ways throughout your garden.

It’s one thing to make incredible compost and an entirely different thing to use it properly. You don’t want to go to the effort of recycling your garden waste and creating compost, only to let the compost itself go to waste. 

There are so many ways you can use compost in the garden. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  • Spread it around the base of plants as a mulch layer to conserve moisture and regulate temperature.
  • Add to your potting soil as a form of slow-release fertilizer, gently feeding your container plants over time. 
  • Cover your raised beds with a top layer of compost to slowly break down into the soil, improving structure and microbial activity. 
  • Apply it to poor-quality soils or soils with the wrong texture (too much sand or clay) to create the ideal conditions for the plants you want to grow. 
  • Sprinkle on your lawn after you aerate it to improve growth. 

Be Vigilant

Gardner wearing white gloves scooping up a pile of compost in a garden bed.
Experience and time will help you become a more vigilant gardener.

There are a million things that can go wrong (or right) in your garden. But experienced gardeners are just that — experienced. They’ve put time in their gardens, noticing the little changes that happen day by day.

They look for the tiny signs that signal a pest, fertility, or disease issue. Then they correct them well before the problems get out of hand. They feel the change in the temperature, wind, rain, and soil structure. They know what they can control, and what they can’t. Then they focus on what they can.

It’s not a superpower. It’s just vigilance. Always keep an eye out on your garden, even if you don’t have much activity planned, to stay on top of changes before they get out of hand. 

Mulch

Woman spreading mulch all over her vegetable garden.
Mulching has several benefits such as weed and moisture control.

Applying mulch is one of the best habits you can adopt in the garden. It takes so little time but comes with so many benefits, including:

  • Regulating soil temperature
  • Preventing water evaporation, conserving moisture and saving resources
  • Keeping weeds down
  • Preventing soil-borne diseases from affecting plants

Experienced gardeners mulch liberally, and they mulch with organic material that will eventually break down and work its way into the soil. This improves soil structure over time and replenishes nutrients in the soil, boosting growth. If you have any soil problems in your garden that keep coming back, mulching is one way to get rid of them for good (albeit over several seasons). 

You don’t need to purchase bags of expensive mulch from your local nursery. It’s easy to make your own or borrow from neighbors to save costs and ensure your beds are always well-mulched. 

Practice Prevention

Close up of blue, gloved hands trimming a small tree branch with clippers.
Pruning can help plants thrive but can also reveal other issues that you would not have otherwise seen.

Experienced gardeners know problems are far easier to solve when they aren’t allowed to become problems at all. 

Many gardening issues are quite tough to treat once they settle in. The first thing to come to mind is diseases, which spread rapidly and are often difficult to remove completely. But even things like planting in the wrong soil type or watering too much is tough to correct if you’ve gone too far.  

Some preventative measures you can consider include:

  • Checking a plant is right for your climate before planting.
  • Using organic modes of deterring pests.
  • Planting correctly to avoid competition for resources. 
  • Pruning dense growth to improve airflow, limiting the risk of disease.
  • Watering the soil and not the leaves. 
  • Feeding the soil before deficiencies occur. 

As tedious as they may seem, this gardening habit is important because it’s easier to prevent a problem from occurring than solving one.

Share The Wealth

Close up of a boy holding a basket of vegetables in a garden.
The most rewarding part of gardening is sharing your harvest with friends and family.

Expert gardeners usually grow more than they need. That is the nature of gardening, whether you’re growing edibles or cut flowers: plants often produce more than we can use.

Rather than letting the excess go to waste, make it a habit to share the wealth of your garden with others. 

The little you sacrifice in giving part of your harvest away will come back to you in goodwill and connections with your neighbors, family, and community. 

Enjoy the Journey

Expert gardeners garden because they love it. They’re not in it for the harvest (well, not only for the harvest).

It’s a journey, a process, and a passion. It’s a beautiful thing to cultivate life from the ground up — literally. Don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and maintain your love of gardening.

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Composting for beginners. Close-up of two gardeners shoveling fresh compost from a compost bin into a small wheelbarrow in the garden. The compost container is tall, plastic, black. The wheelbarrow is green.

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