Gardening 101 to help you get growing in the South | Pike Nurseries

We understand gardening can seem intimidating to a new or beginner gardener. Today we’ll teach you about the basics of gardening. However, if you remember nothing else remember these two things: 1) Some plants will die. We are working with nature and sometimes a plant that should work in your yard even if it has proper care will die. This happens to everyone – including me! Don’t take it personally. 2) We are always here to help with your gardening questions. Don’t be afraid to ask us for help.

How to Determine Your Soil Type

The first item to look at in the garden is your soil type. Thoroughly wet a patch of soil and let it dry out for a day. Simply pick up a handful and determine what type of soil you have.

  1. Clay: when squeezed the soil will form a tight ball. Slippery and lumpy to the touch.
  2. Sand: feels grainy to the touch. Won’t hold shape and crumbles when squeezed. Very free-draining, does not hold water well.
  3. Loam: forms a crumbly, loose ball when squeezed. Well-draining and retains moisture. Ideal garden soil.

How to Improve Your Soil

All you need to do is add soil amendments for a quick and easy fix.

  1. Clay: mix in E.B. Stone Granular Gypsum. It adds aeration and breaks down clay. Use E.B. Stone Redwood Compost. It also helps break down clay naturally.
  2. Sand: mix in E.B. Stone Peat Moss to bind soil and help retain water. E.B. Stone Chicken Manure is also great for sandy soils. It maintains moisture within soil and is highly beneficial to overall plant health.
  3. Loam: add mulch to retain soil’s moisture. Conserves water and lowers water will.

What’s the different between Planting Compost and Potting Mix?

Planting Compost is used in the landscape to amend soil, it aids in plant establishment, root growth and water retention. Potting Mix accomplishes the same things but is design for use in a pot.

Determining Your Sun Light

Before you start looking for plants you need to have a general idea of the sun exposure. Determine sunlight by checking out your planting spot(s) during various times during the day. Observe the amount of sun that each receives.

  1. Full Sun: location receives 6-8 hours of full sun each day
  2. Partial Sun: 3-6 hours of san a day, usually in the late morning to the early afternoon
  3. Partial Shade: sun is filtered, usually by leaves and foliage, and peek through for most of the day.
  4. Shade: area receives less than 3 hours of sun and is shady for most of the day.

Pick your Plants

This is where the fun begins! Choose plants that you’re drawn to. Play with color, texture and unique foliage – let the plants be a reflection of you.

What to Consider When Choosing a Plant

The tags on plants are your friend and will usually tell you everything you need to make the perfect selection. However, if a plant doesn’t have a tag or you have questions you can always ask us for help. That’s what we’re here for!

  1. Sun Requirements: grab your notes on the sunlight for the area you’re planting. Now take a minute to look at the plant tag to see its sun requirements.
  2. Plant Height: don’t let the current height of the plant fool you. Take a look at the plant tag to find out how tall the plant will grow.
  3. Placement: put taller plants toward the back of a display and smaller, descending-sizes toward the front. This will showcase all of your plant selections once they are established.
  4. Spacing: leave plenty of space between plants so they can stretch out. The plant tag usually tells you how wide they will grow.

Annuals versus Perennials

Comparing annual and perennial flowers is a little like comparing apples and oranges. Each type of flower has its own characteristics and advantages.

  1. Annual flowers complete their lifecycle in just one growing season. In other words, you plant a seed (or a seedling plant), it grows foliage, then flowers, seeds and then the plant dies, all in the same year. Annual flowers tend to bloom from spring until autumn frost. Although they must be replanted each year, annuals are hard to beat in terms of showy, season-long color.
  2. Perennial flowers are those that grow for three or more years. Although most perennials tend to have a relatively short season of bloom, combining several species in your planting can yield season-long color.

Planting 101

You’re ready to get your hands a little dirty! Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball. Using the appropriate planting mix, combine one part soil and one part planting compost. Place a small handful of E.B. Stone Sure Start in the bottom of the hole and incorporate into the soil. Make sure the top of the original root ball is one inch above surrounding soil. Firmly tap soil to remove any air pockets. Done!


Plants are living just like humans and need water. The good news is they don’t get thirsty as much as we do!

  1. When to Water: water in the morning or evening when the sun is going down to reduce evaporation
  2. How to Water: people have a tendency to over water plants. Water thoroughly saturating soil and wait longer between watering. Watch the plants signs (wilting, wrinkled leaves, etc) to determine the when it needs water.

Ultimate Guarantee

We want you to be successful in the garden and have fun with gardening. For this reason we have our Ultimate Guarantee on Trees and Shrubs.


Gardening 101 to help you get growing in the South! / Pike Nurseries.