Simple rules to becoming a green-fingered gardener

There is a notion that some people have green fingers and that they can grow anything, anywhere. Those who claim not to have the green finger touch will suggest that everything they plant dies, and they lament the fact that those who are blessed with the touch could plant a cactus at the North Pole and watch it thrive. It is definitely true that some people are more skilled in the gardening department than others, but the truth is that those who tend to do well with the things that they plant, are, for the most part, blessed with huge amounts of practicality and a love of gardening. So, for those who yearn to have a beautiful, lush garden of their own, but who battle to get it to work, here are some practical tips to help you get over the line.

Get some expert insights

It is unreasonable to expect to do everything yourself. If you don’t consult people who know what they are doing then you are going to be in for a lot of pain. You could research online or take a book out of the library. Talk to others who have clearly cracked it with spectacular gardens of their own, or look for people who do this type of thing professionally. For example, in Sydney landcscape architects are quite easy to find, it’s the same in other big cities. These are all people who can give you advice on what to plant, when to plant and how to structure your garden to create the best effect. There is absolutely no shame in speaking to others.

Think local

Plant local flora. It might sound like an obvious thing to say but you need to plant things that are suited to the local climate, and the best suited plants are those which occur naturally in the area. If you live in a semi-arid area, you cannot try to grow an old-school English country garden. It might seem like a good idea, but it will translate to a lot of toil and plant loss and you may very quickly decide that you don’t have the ability to keep plants alive. Which is nonsense of course – you just don’t have the ability to keep plants that aren’t meant to be planted there in the first place alive, and that is something completely different.

Wildlife for the win

There is a tendency amongst some gardeners to try to eradicate things that they see as pests from their gardens. Don’t! A garden is an ecosystem. Caterpillars become butterflies which in many cases pollinate plants. Caterpillars also act as natural pruning machines, culling back plants at certain time, allowing them to grow back vigorously when the time is right. Do whatever you can to encourage things like birds, toads and snails and insects into your garden. They turn the soil, eat pests and generally help to keep nature perfectly in balance.


Gardens mulch themselves if they are allowed to. Leaves fall naturally from trees and plants and if left, they decay into the soil, where they create compost. Let this happen. It is not necessary to rake up every leaf that falls, all you are doing is leaving the soil exposed to the elements and taking away nutrients that would ordinarily feed into the ecosystem. People are always amazed at how green and lush places like the Amazon are, and they are lush indeed, and this is partly due to the fact that it is all allowed to happen naturally there, people are not trying to control it and bend it to their will. Follow the same philosophy with your home garden.