As with any investment, patience is a must. Plants refused to be rushed!
- When buying annuals, look for plants that have lots of buds but only a few flowers. After all, a plant with a lot of flower has already done half of its flowering for the grower, not for you.
- Consider buying perennials as seed, not finished plants. Perennials will be around for years, and you can get seeds a lot cheaper than finished plants in their 2nd or 3rd year because they grower won't have to charge you for their investment. In the same way, consider buying small trees or shrubs rather than the full-size ones.
- Don't try to plant too early! Once the days start warming up in late March or April, you will probably be eager to get your plants in the growd but waiting until May will protect them from frost and damage. Wait to plant until the soil warms and dries; it should be more 'crumbly' than 'sticky'.
- Don't work the soil too early. This is a corollary to #3. You want to avoid tilling, planting or even walking where you will be planting later in the year because this will compact the soil and make it harder for plants to establish themselves and push through.