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Central Midwest Gardening: Garden Smarter

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Learn about encouraging pollinators, zinnias, improving the soil, and starting small to save money.


Easy Does It
Pollinators need our help, says Alan Branhagen, horticulture director of Powell Gardens near Kansas City. Encourage them and other beneficial insects by planting native plants and limiting or eliminating the use of pesticides in your garden. When you grow the flowers that bees, birds, and butterflies love, you encourage biodiversity, which helps control pests.

Grow Your Own
A package of zinnia seeds will produce flowers for bouquets all summer long. Sow a row of zinnias in the vegetable garden, or make places for them in a flowerbed. The more you cut, the more they bloom. And you get oodles of color for the cost of a seed packet.

Good Earth
Improving your soil is probably the best investment you can make in your garden. It doesn’t have to be a chore. Do it one shovelful at a time -- every time you plant, add compost. You can make compost or buy it in bags. Some communities also offer truckloads for a nominal fee. Compost improves soil texture and adds valuable nutrients and microbes that help keep plants healthy.

Start Small
Small trees and shrubs will become established more quickly than the big specimens landscapers plant. They grow fast, and they cost less than big plants. Choose the healthiest specimens you see, not the largest. Look for plants with a nice shape. Avoid those with crossing branches or narrow crotches where branches meet trunk.

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