Are you ready to exercise your green thumb in the garden? Before you dig your first hole, make sure you take note of these 10 tips to ensure your garden is really green.

1. Go all-natural. Pesticides and fertilizers may pack a punch when it comes to getting your garden in shape, but the chemicals they contain are bad for the health of the environment and your family. If you're looking for a quick-fix, many nursery's sell organic fertilizer that cut out the harmful chemicals. You can also try one of these easy natural fertilizer recipes.

2. Compost. Transform your food waste into a natural fertilizer that will enrich your soil. Vegetable peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells and even cardboard can be composted. Just pick a place in your yard, and start your own compost pile.

3. Plant food. Flowers certainly add aesthetics, but they shouldn't be the only thing in your garden. You should also plant fruits and vegetables that you will eat. By planting food, you'll get garden-fresh organic produce at cheaper prices than you'd pay at the store.

4. Use a rain barrel. Water is essential to the health and well-being of plants, but it's also a valuable commodity that shouldn't be wasted. Instead of using the treated water supply from your tap, collect rain water in a rain barrel to use in your garden.

5. Water at the right time. The most efficient time to water your plants is in the early morning or late evening. During these times, the sun's rays aren't as harsh so less water will evaporate and more will soak into the soil.

6. Add mulch. Regardless of whether you prefer pine needles or shredded tree bark, mulching is a smart way to reduce water waste. The material helps prevent evaporation. As an added bonus, it will also help ward off unwanted weeds.

7. Bring on the bugs. While you may be inclined to keep pesky critters away from your prized produce, some insects can actually help your garden grow. Encourage lady bugs and lacewings to enter your garden by planting a few bright flowers. These bugs will eat aphids that can destroy your crops.

8. Invite the birds. If you're looking to get rid of snails, caterpillars or slugs that can destroy your plants, place a birdfeeder near your garden to attract these insects' natural predator. Many bird species welcome the opportunity to eat the bugs of which you're trying to rid your garden.

9. Plant native plants. As you plan your garden, think about filling it with plants that are native to your area. Vegetation that grows naturally in your region will thrive with little water and effort on your part.

10. Use solar lighting. If you've got a beautiful garden, it's a shame not to show it off. But if you plan on using outdoor lighting, it's best to choose a solar option. Solar-powered lights harness the power of the sun so you don't have to waste electricity.

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