How This Book Is Organized

The basic goal of every chapter is to give you the information you need to go out and create a garden, or at least plant something, no matter what your level of experience. You may already know a lot about roses, for example, but perhaps you want information on how to start an annual flowerbed; the chapters in this book can help out in that regard. Even if your primary interest is in growing roses or daylilies, or in setting up a basic vegetable garden, you can find useful information in every chapter that you can probably apply to your planting project.

This book includes six parts, which are further divided into chapters. Check out the following sections for an overview of what you can find in each part.

Part I: Preparing Yourself (And Your Garden) for Planting

Sometimes just getting started can be the hardest part. In this section, your wheels begin turning. Chapter 1 introduces you to the main garden players — annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers — and explains their roles. Chapter 2 helps you put together your grand plan and gives you some ideas of types of gardens to consider and questions to ask yourself. I explain what hardiness zones are and why should you care about them in

Chapter 3. Chapter 4 puts your spade in the ground with the basics of garden preparation and your plants' basic needs. And the right garden tools make a big difference, so Chapter 5 takes all the mystery out of tool selection and use.

Part II: Flowers and Foliage: Growing for Color

Foliage is nice, but most people are in gardening for color. Chapter 6 deals with the almost ever-blooming, frequently dazzling colors of annuals — which ones to choose and how to use them best. Recently, perennials have been the hottest category of plant, probably because of their immense variety and year-after-year performance. These repeat-performers are detailed in Chapter 7. Nothing can perk up your spirits after a long winter better than spring-flowering bulbs or give late color like the summer-flowering types; that's what Chapter 8 is all about. Chapter 9 introduces you to America's favorite flower: the rose. There, I give you tips on which roses are easiest to grow and tell you which are most fragrant.

Part III: Stretching Your Garden Beyond Its Boundaries: The Permanent Landscape

The lawn frames everything in the garden and is the family playground during the summer. Chapter 10 can help you grow a lawn you can be proud of. Trees and shrubs are considered the "bones" of the garden because they define its shape and are present for many years. I introduce you to the foun-dational plants that best suit your needs in Chapter 11. And don't forget vines and groundcovers — they can serve as the icing on your garden cake; I profile them in Chapter 12.

Part IV: Producing Your Own Produce

What can possibly match the flavor of your own warm vine-ripened tomatoes? Or fresh ripe strawberries and raspberries? That's what Part IV is about: home-grown produce. It's healthy and delicious. Veggies start off this part in Chapter 13, followed by Chapter 14 on the pleasures of how to grow and enjoy herbs. Chapter 15 shows you how you can have all the fruits and berries you want.

Part V: Designing Special and Fun Gardens

This part covers what gardening is really all about — fun! Chapter 16 covers the extremely popular form of gardening that even those space-challenged gardeners can enjoy: container gardening. Water gardens have become the rage because of not only the exotic plants they display but also the wildlife (including fish and frogs) that they provide a home for. Skip to Chapter 17 for details on water gardening.

Part VI: The Part of Tens

Of course, this wouldn't be a real For Dummies book without a Part of Tens. This part is where you go when you want information fast. Chapter 18 gives you answers to the ten most commonly asked garden questions. If you're handy and like gardening projects, see Chapter 19. Getting the kids involved in gardening early in life is a great idea, so check out the fun projects for them to do in Chapter 20.

Icons Used in This Book

Icons are the cute little pictures that show up in the margins of the book, right next to certain blocks of text. Here's what those icons stand for:

This image points out some ecological tips that you can follow and use to ensure that your gardening is truly Earth-friendly.

Gardeners sometimes speak their own lingo, which can be a bit confusing for people who are just getting their feet wet (or dirty) in the gardening process. This icon helps to identify and clarify the most common terms you encounter.

This icon points out some major ideas in the book — stuff well worth remembering.

The Tip icon flags notable gardening information that even experienced gardeners may not know. This info can save you time and frustration.

This icon alerts you to possible problems to watch out for or avoid. These problems may result in injury or at the very least a bad gardening experience.

Where to Go from Here

A great thing about For Dummies books is that you can start anywhere you want — one part or chapter doesn't depend on any other. For example, if you're interested in growing your own fruit, head right to Chapter 15. No need to start anywhere else!

That said, if you feel more comfortable getting a basic grounding (so to speak) in gardening before plunging right in, start with Part I, Chapter 1. If you're re-evaluating or starting your garden from scratch, then any of the other chapters in Part I are good places to begin. After that, where you go is really up to you, based on your most pressing gardening needs or pleasures.

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