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Garden Smarter in the Gulf Coast

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Gulf Coast gardeners, be ready for whatever the coming year brings your way. Here are tips on how to garden smarter in 2013.

Choose native plants for low-maintenance gardening.

It’s impossible to know what each new year in gardening will bring. With increasingly unpredictable weather and other variables, it’s wise to be prepared. Here are five ways to garden smarter in the coming year:

1. Catch Water
Reclaiming rain is a resourceful and inexpensive means to conserve water. Attach a food-grade barrel or cistern to your downspout to catch runoff from the roof. Connect two or more together for a greater reserve. Use a garden hose, soaker hose or watering can to distribute the saved water to planting beds when needed.

2. Plant Wisely
All too often we sabotage our best intentions by purchasing finicky plants. Make a plan to stick with native plants and regionally suitable choices. To make the wisest selections, consider sun requirements, mature plant size and water demands. For low-maintenance gardening with optimal results, group plants with similar needs.

3. Feed Microbes
Reduce the amount of solid waste that requires disposal by collecting organic matter from your garden and piling it up. Leaves, twigs, kitchen scraps and grass/plant clippings break down to create compost. Beneficial microorganisms silently do the work in the pile. A combination of water, air and oxygen gives these microbes what they need to turn the heap into nutrient-rich compost. Add the final product to your planting beds for improved moisture retention and soil structure.

4. Dig No More
Instead of digging up the turf when creating new planting beds, lay thick layers of newspaper or cardboard over the lawn. Top off the layers with a combination of compost and soil. The lawn underneath will gradually die. You reduce back labor, and the mixture on top is soon ready for planting a beautiful new creation.

5. Scatter Seeds
When annuals fade between seasons, they leave bare spots. At the first signs of weakening, spread seeds among them to replenish seasonal flowers. It’s an economical way to prevent gaps. Just about the time one group of annuals is leaving, the next one is sprouting up.

What ideas do you have for gardening smarter next year?