As a child, I remember spending many afternoons on my grandparents’ couch, gazing through their huge picture window at the birds visiting the feeders hung in the magnolia tree outside.  It was the one bit of excitement that could be found at their peaceful country home, and I was mesmerized by the comings and goings, watching the flutter of red cardinals’ wings, the hopping of Carolina wrens and the speedy swooping of chickadees.  And the music—trills, twitters, whistles, and sweetly sung notes, all part of a lively show enacted by seemingly delicate yet incredibly swift and agile feathered performers.  I can still spend hours watching such a scene.

Recently I had to have a tree removed from my small front yard—a 40-year-old Kwanzan cherry that had long outgrown its space and threatened to push over the fence.  While it’s wonderful to have the sunlight streaming in, I've definitely seen a decline in the bird activity, no matter how many feeders I put up.  Without that vast cover of foliage, I assume the birds feel less safe than before, even though there is a large (although highly limbed-up) maple in the community green just 15 feet away.  And the woodpeckers really miss the insects under the bark!

So, in redesigning to accommodate all that sunlight, I had to decide what my yard would become, and who it would be for. Just being pretty to look at I knew would not be enough.  I needed to consider the others that shared that space—the ones that have filled me with such delight for so many years.  Creating a safe and inviting bird habitat would be the plan—providing adequate cover, food, water, and potential nesting sites, while maintaining an attractive design aesthetic with a mix of plant textures, colors and forms.  As my yard is small, I also had to keep mature plant sizes in mind, although I admit I cut down on spacing to fit everything in. I find pruning and cleaning, and generally messing about in the garden therapeutic, but others may not. Plantings that won't outgrow the space and proper spacing can cut down on a lot of pruning and other maintenance for those of you that just consider those things chores.

By following a few simple guidelines, you can create a safe haven for these colorful and lively visitors in your own garden, no matter how large or small:

  • Native plants are the starting point—not everything has to be native, but it is important that the plants not be invasive. Birds, unlike many insects, do not necessarily prefer native to non-native food sources so they may be responsible for spreading seeds of anything they eat--which means WE are ultimately responsible for unwise and environmentally dangerous planting choices.  
  • Choosing berrying shrubs, trees, or vines and seed-producing grasses and perennials that produce at varying times will supply food year-round.
  • Adding evergreens is beneficial, especially for winter cover and early nesters. 
  • Supplement with seed, fruit, mealworms and suet feeders kept scrupulously clean. The more different types of food you provide, the greater the number of species you may attract.  
  • Keep feeders full all year, as you will likely see birds in winter that will be gone come spring.  In spring and fall, migrating birds will appreciate a quick meal to replenish their stores for remainder of their trip.  Nesting birds will appreciate a nearby food source, and with luck you'll spy the whole family dining once the young venture out. In summer, suet feeders and mealworms may attract insect eating birds to your yard that may help keep the bad bugs in check. 
  • Moving water is an asset, so a small fountain or a dripper or “water wiggler” added to a birdbath is a good idea.  In winter, a heated birdbath will stay ice-free.  I've found that a large heated dog water bowl works well in a pinch--these tend to be too deep for most birds, so I place a rock in the center. 
  • If you have the space, you should discreetly place a brush pile--a pile of small branches, twigs, and leaf litter for cover and foraging. 
  • Place one or more birdhouses, or even coffee cans or similar vessels, so that they are protected from predators—wrens especially will investigate almost any nook and cranny, and you can never predict which they will prefer. Perches are not needed at entrances—more often than not these simply serve to allow better predator access.
  • A winter roosting box is a good idea, or even better one that can be converted from house to roost.  The difference is that the house will ventilate at the top, as heat rises, and the roost will ventilate at the bottom to retain more heat. 

I ended up choosing a serviceberry tree, a 'Winterthur' and 'Brandywine' viburnum, Callicarpa 'Pearl Glam,' blueberry 'Pink Lemonade,' and Aronia 'Brilliantissima,' deciduous shrubs that will produce berries at different times of year, and all but the Callicarpa are native.  For an evergreen component I added a combo Blue Prince/Blue Princess Holly (both grown in the same pot), that will also produce berries, and a "Franky Boy' arborvitae with wispy thread-like laves which I'm growing in a pot.  To have another plant with dark foliage (the 'Pearl Glam' has somewhat dark foliage, but never what it looks like in the photos), I chose a small native shrub, Physocarpus 'Tiny Wine,' which has very small leaves that contrast nicely with the larger leaved viburnum, and it's very dense twiggy habit provides a bit more cover, even in winter.  To help the blueberry produce more (and because I found them on sale at a ridiculously low price--score!) I added 2 blueberries from the Bushel and Berry collection, which I will keep in large pots from Crescent Garden, as they are weatherproof.

I already had a gold privet, which I normally would not plant, but it has sentimental value as it was given to me by a dear friend.  Some privet species have been found to be toxic to birds, although so far not this one, and the berries are also sterile, so seeding would not be an issue. Truthfully, I haven't seen any berries on it yet.  It holds the golden-green leaves in my zone and provides good cover and a bright splash of color year-round.  It also partially hides my collection of various sized branches gleaned from under the neighborhood maples and oaks after windstorms, housed primarily upright in a tomato cage--a vertical brush pile to save space.  This adds perching spots near the feeders and cover lower down, where I often see the song sparrows and wrens investigating--in fact, so far this is the favored spot for most birds that visit.  I also use the sticks as "spears" for grapes, orange wedges, apples, or whatever fruit I happen to have handy.

I had previously installed 2 fabulous Agriframes Monet arches--one that surrounds the sliding glass door, and another that camouflages the trash can storage area, as once covered in foliage they would add much needed safe cover.  A Concord grape (as close as I could find to a native fox grape) and a native red honeysuckle will eventually fight it out over the door--I'm hoping the grape will win and produce, but there's no guarantee.  On the other arch is a native Passiflora caerulea, passionvine, which bears large, very weird and showy flowers and potentially fruit.  In its first season it covered the arch and was a great spot to hang one of my feeders.  No flowers yet, but I'm hopeful for this coming year.  I had also added some lattice wall trellis between the arch and front door, which I easily attached with vinyl siding clips.  This is the framework for the Pyracantha 'Yukon Belle' espalier that is in progress--more evergreen cover and more berries! I will keep an eye on the invasive status of the pyracantha in my state--right now it is listed as invasive in California, Texas, and parts of the deep south, but not in Maryland.  If I run into something native and better I might yank it out, anyway.

Native perennials and "nativars" include several varieties of Echinacea, Monarda punctata (spotted bee balm), grassy-leaved Liatris 'Kobold,' variegated Hibiscus moscheutos, Pycnanthemum muticum (mountain mint), a dark-foliaged Lobelia cardinalis, and Heliopsis 'Burning Hearts', a spiky dwarf Kniphofia (red-hot poker), blue stokesia, and variegated Ageratina aromatica.   Non-native perennials were limited--red and white Salvia greggii 'Hot Lips' to encourage more hummingbirds, and Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' because I cannot have a garden without its incredibly bright colorful foliage--it plays against the dark physocarpus foliage beautifully.  And for the last 2 years, I've let the pokeweed in the corner of one bed have its way, as it ends up the tallest plant in the yard,  attracting birds to the dark purple berries.  It's actually quite attractive when grown nicely--I "limbed" it up like a small tree with a wide spreading crown, and it was quite pretty with the bright pink stems and long clusters of berries.  Once other plants grow in and start to produce I will probably need to eradicate it, but for now it works.

Little by little I'm adding some squirrel-resistant bulbs--double and split-corona daffodils, muscari, iris, and allium, for color before the perennials and most of the shrubs bloom.  And yes, I get plenty of squirrels, so most of my feeders are squirrel resistant, either with a cage or a closing mechanism, and I place baffles on the others to slow them down a bit.  They also enjoy sipping from my Elegant Copper Birdbath, and have only knocked it off twice in two years, as it's very well balanced on the stand.  Smaller birds enjoy the 2" depth, but I've also had birds as large as crows stop by for a drink. The chipmunks are always a treat to watch, especially on warm winter days when they suddenly reappear after weeks of semi-hibernation to refill their cache. 

Most of my feeders are on shepherd hooks until something grows large enough, which doesn't provide birds with the cover they prefer.  After the holidays, it's a good trick to place your wreaths or roping around the hooks so the birds feel safer.  They do like the feeders hung under the arches once they're covered with foliage in summer, so that's a great alternative if you don't have room for trees. Since my yard is fenced, I have also added some small feeders using pot rings and a saucer.  That way I can place them close to the fence and at different heights deeper into the garden bed, which the birds enjoy.  I've found that the 4 and 6 inch pot rings work well with regular 4 and 6 inch terracotta saucers for feed. (Don't forget to empty these if it rains--moldy seed can be deadly for birds.) I created a nice secondary, higher birdbath using an 10 inch pot ring with a 8 inch Crescent Garden Saucer--with its very wide rim it fits perfectly in the ring, and also has little ridges in it which helps the birds grip.  Butterflies would enjoy these filled with gravel and water, as they get nutrients from the stone.


Below is a list of plants you might consider to encourage more birds to visit your yard, and a list of plants to avoid.


Image Plant Type US Native Benefit Bird Species Aesthetic Features Habit Size Siting Zones Cultivars Notes
  Winterberry (Ilex verticillata or I. verticillata x I. serrata hybrids, 'Winter Red' pictured) Deciduous Small to Large Shrub/Small Tree Yes fall to winter berries  Robin, Hermit Thrush, Bluebird, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, White-Throated Sparrow covered with red berries in winter  Multi-stemmed oval-rounded  6-10' Moist acid soil; tolerates wet and heavy soil; full to part sun  3-9 Sparkleberry,  Winter Red, Berry Nice, Red Sprite, Maryland Beauty Need at least one  male with overlapping bloom for fruiting (Jim Dandy, Apollo, Southern Gentleman); Excellent choice for rain gardens
  Holly, American (Ilex opaca) Broadleaf evergreen Large tree Yes fall & winter berries; cover; nesting  Robin, Mockingbird, Catbird many more Evergreen foliage; red berries Dense pyramid may become more open with age  40-50'  Well-drained acid soil: full to part sun  5-9   Need at least one male for fruiting; grows relatively slowly
  Holly, Meserve Hybrids ('Castle Wall' photo courtesy Proven Medium evergreen shrub to small tree  No fall & winter berries; cover  Robin, Mockingbird, Catbird many more Lustrous dark green foliage; red berries upright to pyramidal depending on cultivar 8-15' Well-drained soil; full to part sun 5-7 Blue Boy/Girl, Blue Prince/Princess, Dragon Lady/Blue Stallion; 'Castle Spire'/'Castle Wall' At least one compatible male needed for pollination/fruiting
  Holly, Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)   Broadleaf evergreen shrub to small tree Yes summer berries; cover   Robin, Mockingbird, Catbird many more  small leaves like boxwood; small red berries  upright; weeping forms available; dwarf low mounded  15-20'; compact cultivars available 4' high and 5' wide average well-drained acid soil; full to part sun; salt spray tolerant  7-10  'Pendula' - weeping; 'Nana' - dwarf  Need at least one male for fruiting; good topiary plant
  Holly, Nellie Stevens (Ilex cornuta and Ilex aquifolium hybrid) Broadleaf evergreen large tree  No  fall & winter berries; cover; nesting  Robin, Mockingbird, Catbird many more  Evergreen foliage; red berries   Broad pyramid  15-25 x 8 to 10'  Well-drained soil; full to part sun  6-9  n/a  Better fruiting achieved with male I. cornuta (Chinese holly) species for pollination
  Callicarpa, americana (American Beautyberry) Deciduous Shrub Yes Fall berries  Robins, thrashers, cardinals, mockingbirds, finches,  towhees  Small pink flowers; bright lilac colored fruit  erect arching  3 to 8' Moist, well-drained soil; full to part sun  6-11    
  Callicarpa dichotoma (Beautyberry) 'Pearl Glam' pictured Deciduous Shrub No Fall Berries   Robins, thrashers, cardinals, mockingbirds, finches,  towhees   pink summer flowers; bright violet fall berries  rounded shape, arching branches  3-4' x 4-5'  Moist, well-drained soil; full to part sun  5-8  'Issai'; 'Pearl Glam'--dichotoma hybrid  smaller leaves and more graceful habit than other beautyberries
  Callicarpa bodinieri   Deciduous Shrub  No  Fall Berries   Robins, thrashers, cardinals, mockingbirds, finches,  towhees  lilac summer flowers; purple fall berries upright arching


Moist, well-drained soil; full to part sun 6-8 'Profusion'  
  Firethorn (Pyracantha) Broadleaf evergreen shrub No Fall-winter berries, cover, nesting  cedar waxwing, catbird, bluejay, mockingbirds White clusters of small flowers; red, orange, or yellow berries  upright arching  6-18'  Well-drained, sandy soil; full to part sun  5-8  'Yukon Belle,' 'Red Elf,' 'Mojave,' 'Apache' Long stems can be easily espaliered; use blight resistant varieties only
  Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) Deciduous Small Shrub Yes Summer fruit Scarlet Tanager, Orioles, Flicker, Bluebird, Thrushes, Bluejay, Catbird blue fruit; red fall color  upright rounded lowbush 2-4' highbush 4-6' high and wide; rabbiteye 10-15'  Moist, well-drained acidic soil; full to part sun  3-10 depending on species

Blue Crop/Blue Ray; Tophat good for pots


Best fruiting with 2 different cultivars that overlap bloom
  Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) Deciduous Shrub or Small Tree Yes Summer fruit; nesting Thrushes, Cardinals, Mockingbirds White spring flower; summer fruit; yellow/orange/red fall color Multi-stemmed or single trunk with rounded crown  15-25' compact cultivars available  Moist, well-drained acid soil; full to part sun  4-9  'Autumn Brilliance', 'Standing Ovation' 15' high x 4' wide, 'Regent' 6' x 8'  Fruits are sweet and edible--pies and jams
  Pokeweed  Herbaceous Perennial Yes Fall fruit  Robin, Mockingbird, Catbird, Cardinal  Pink stems; long purple berry clusters  Upright spreading, can be almost vine-like with support  8-12' high x 3-6'wide; can seed to form colonies Highly adaptable, best fruit in full sun  4-8  There is a variegated variety available from specialty nurseries  It's only a weed if you don't want it there!
  Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) Herbaceous Perennial Yes Fall-winter seed finches, blue jays, cardinals Large daisy-shaped flowers with drooping petals, large seed cones  Clumping; single and double flower forms  2-5' tall x 1-2' wide  well-drained soil; full to part sun 3-8 depending on variety  'Cheyenne Spirit' multicolor seed strain; 'Magnus' is traditional purple (zone 3)  Cultivars are MANY, some 3 times the cost of others when new and may not be as cold hardy
  Switchgrass (Panicum spp., 'Apache Rose' pictured) Perennial Grass Yes Fall seed; cover  various songbirds and game birds  Soft green to blue tones; yellow (some red) fall color  upright columnar; spreads slowly  3-6' tall x 2-3' wide  moist, well-drained soil; sandy soil; full to part sun  3-9 'Heavy Metal,--steely blue color; 'Dallas Blues'--wider leaves; 'Shenandoah'--more red fall color May flop in too much shade or too fertile soil

Aronia arbutifolia or melanocarpa (A. arbutifolia 'Brilliantissima' pictured)


Deciduous Dwarf to Small Shrub Yes Fall-winter berries  meadowlark, catbird, cedar waxwing, cardinals  White summer flowers; red fall & winter berries; excellent red-purple fall color  upright suckering- spreading; multi-stemmed  6-10' x 3-5'; melanocarpa tends to be shorter and more spreading tolerates wet or dry soils; full to part sun  3-8 ' Brilliantissima'  A. arbutifolia  produces red berries; A. melanocarpa black berries; 
  Viburnum nudum (Smooth Witherod Viburnum) Deciduous Shrub Yes Fall berries  Robin, Brown Thrasher, Bluebird, Pileated Woodpecker, Cedar Waxwing, Cardinal White early summer flowers flowers; white/pink/blue berry clusters; red-orange fall color  Multi-stemmed; upright rounded  5-10' x 5-10'  Moist, well-drained; full to part sun  5-9  'Winterthur', 'Brandywine' (Brandywine is said not to need a pollinator) needs two different cultivars that overlap bloom for best pollination
  Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum)  Deciduous Shrub  Yes  Fall berries  Robin, Cardinal, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Catbird  White spring flowers; blue to black berries; yellow to red to purple fall color  Mulit-stemmed, rounded, suckering; may colonize  6 to  15' x 6-15' Well- drained soil; full  to part sun  3-8  'Chicago Lustre', 'Cardinal', 'Autumn Jazz'  Durable, good for screening & massing
  Viburnum trilobum (American Cranberry Bush) Deciduous Shrub Yes; will only be found in native specialty nurseries--V. opulus is NOT native but commonly found  Fall berries  Thrushes, Cedar Waxwing, Cardinal White spring flowers; large red fall berries  Upright, rounded, multi-stemmed, dense  8-12' x 8-12'  Moist, well-drained soil; full to part sun   2-7  'Compactum' 5 to 6'   Not  drought tolerant
  Pine (Pinus spp., Thundercloud pine pictured) Small shrub to large coniferous tree some (eastern white pine) Seed cones; cover  Pine Warbler, chickadee, pine siskin, crossbills, nuthatch  Evergreen, good for large screen  generally upright pyramidal  3' to 80', depending on variety  Well-drained soil; full sun on average 3-7 (8); loblolly 6-9  Pinus mugo dwarf cultivars tend to be low and spreading  other native: Pitch pine, Loblolly pine, Shortleaf pine, longleaf pine, Ponderosa pine
  Juniper Small shrub to large (but narrow) coniferous tree some; J. virginia (Eastern Red Cedar) and J. scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper) yes Berries on certain types; cover Blue bird, catbird, evening grosbeak, Hermit thrush, Myrtle warbler, crossbill,  waxwings  Evergreen foliage; blue to green shades highly varied; natives are mostly upright narrow to pyramidal  low spreading to 20-40' upright depending on species and cultivar  full sun; well-drained soil; most are drought tolerant  3-9 depending on species and cultivar


'Grey Owl' compact  3' x 6' nativar; 'Skyrocket'; 'Moonglow' upright types

 Smaller types may be grown in containers


Bee Balm (Monarda spp., M. punctata pictured)
Herbaceous perennial yes Nectar  Hummingbirds  Large flowers: red, purple, shades of pink,  bushy dwarf types or tall spreading  12-36" depending on variety  Moist well-drained soil; full to part sun  3-9  Choose a mildew resistant cultivar; 'Purple Rooster'  watch for mildew in dry conditions
  Dogwood, Florida Small deciduous tree yes Fall berries, seasonal cover; nesting  over 40 species Large spring flowers pink or white (bracts); red fall fruit; fall color  horizontally spreading crown creates layered effect  15-20'  excellent drainage required; part to full sun  5-9  'Cherokee' series  does not tolerate drought or heavy pollution

Hawthorn (Crataegus);

C. phaenopyrum (Washington Hawthorn)


Deciduous medium-sized tree  some; Crataegus laevigata (English Hawthorn) not native Red fall berries, cover, nesting  purple finch, cedar waxwing, mockingbird, robin, chickadee  White late spring flowers flowers; orange to red to purple fall color  broad oval to rounded crown; slow grower 25-30'   full sun; well-drained soil 4-8  'Princeton Sentry' almost thornless  Thorny; tolerates pollution 
  Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) Twining vine Yes Nectar; fall berries; cover  Hummingbirds Red, orange, or yellow trumpet shaped summer flowers   twining vine  10-15'  full to part sun; well-drained soil  4-9  'John Clayton' yellow; 'Major Wheeler' red flowers  Watch for aphids, but let the birds try to eat them first! Watch for mildew in hot & humid conditions
  Sunflower Annual No Summer-fall seed Finches, Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Bluejay, Song Sparrow Large flowers            There are dwarf and unusual colors to choose from, but black oil seed is most popular with birds
  Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparius, 'Blue Paradise' photo courtesy Proven Winners, Inc.) Perennial Grass Yes Fall seed; cover;nesting material cardinals, buntings, finches, grosbeaks, sparrows, towhees Steely blue and soft pink/purple tones  clumping; fine-textured; upright to arching  1.5-3'  Dry to average well-drained soil; full sun  3-9  'Standing Ovation,' 'Prairie Blues,' 'The Blues'  Smaller cultivars are nice in containers
  Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Perennial Grass Yes Seed; cover; nesting material songbirds, turkeys Bluish-green to green foliage; pink or white inflorescences extremely fine textured, arching, clumping 3-4' x 3'4'  Average well-drained soil; full sun 5-9    Highly ornamental in late summer-fall

Interesting information from Maryland Natural Resources: "Studies have shown that both upland game birds and songbirds prefer nesting in stands of warm season grasses rather than typical orchard grass/alfalfa fields. The conversion of as little as five percent of hayfields to warm season grasses can increase bird populations ten fold." So even if you're not a farmer, if you have a portion of your property you can turn over to grassland, this is highly beneficial for wildlife.  Native warm-season grasses include Panicum virgatum (Switchgrass), Schizachyrium scoparius (Little Bluestem),Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass), and Andropogon gerardii (Big Bluestem), all attractive and easy to fit in to a landscape plan, especially one that's following trending "meadow" landscape design aesthetics.   You can find more info here:

Other good choices if you have the space:

  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): you need 2 different cultivars of same species that will overlap bloom for cross pollination; edible for humans also; native; bluebird, grosbeak, indigo bunting, orioles
  • Spicebush (Lindera benzoin): good in wet areas; native; thrushes, vireos, catbird
  • Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Red-Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea): adaptable, tolerate wet soils so good for rain gardens; they may spread too much for a small garden; summer berries; flicker, downy woodpecker, catbird, thrushes, mockingbird, cardinal
  • Blackberries/Raspberries: thornless varieties available; needs to be trained onto trellis or other suitable structure; robins, orioles, catbird, thrushes
  • Black Willow, Pussy Willow (native): favor moist areas, good for massing, informal deciduous hedge
  • Sumac (Rhus spp.): native; over 90 species feed on sumac; sumac is not poisonous--"poison sumac" is not actually a sumac
  • Sweetbay Magnolia: native; semi-evergreen; red seed cones; Red-eyed vireos, American redstart, towhees, robins, Northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, crested flycatcher, bluejay.
  • Trees: Native Oaks, River Birch (Betula nigra--native), Redbud--native, Crabapple (Malus spp.), Red Buckeye (native)

Plants to avoid:

  • Eleagnus (Autumn Olive, Russian Olive): edible and pretty tasty for humans, but terribly invasive and it seeds everywhere in the wild.
  • Chinese Privet: invasive and there are myriad better choices.
  • Nandina: wonderful, but some birds have apparently been sickened by feasting on the berries, so either prune off the finished flowers or cut the berries as soon as they've formed and use in indoor arrangements.  Some of the dwarf cultivars do not seem to flower or fruit--'Firepower,' and 'Lemon-Lime.'  It is possible that with age they may, however.
  • Euonymous alatus (Burning Bush):  Again, VERY invasive and there are plenty of other things to plant--it's not even evergreen so I don't really get the attraction.  
  • Japanese Barberries:  Just don't.  I see these everywhere on hikes, and once I saw an unused hotel courtyard literally covered with them after what was obviously an initial planting of just one or two plants.  I wish they would stop the breeding on these things--colorful foliage is fun, but find it elsewhere--physocarpus is one place to look--and they don't have thorns.
  • Mulberries, except the native white mulberry--invasive and the squirrels will be all over you, anyway.
  • Miscanthus and Pennisetum (Maiden and Fountain grasses):  Seeding, seeding, seeding, all over.  There are now several sterile miscanthus cultivars, 'My Fair Maiden,' 'Bandwith,' and 'Scout,' and according to some sources, M. 'Autumn Light' and 'Morning Light' set less than 18% viable seed, so those would be better choices.  Instead of pennisetum, try native little bluestem or muhly grass.

Note that while many fruiting shrubs and trees will tolerate part sun or even light shade, fruiting is best in full sun and will likely be reduced in other situations.  Never prune or deadhead that season's flowers, as you will prevent berries from forming.

If you've got a great wildlife habitat in your yard, tell us about it!  What works best for you in your area of the country, and what plants are your favorites?  Help new gardeners with your expertise by leaving some comments or tips.