Newswise — COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Now that spring is finally upon us and the University of Maryland's Maryland Day Open House is just four weeks away, University of Maryland's Jon Traunfeld -a Master Gardener and director of the Home and Garden Information Center - offers his best tips to help beginning gardeners:

1. Start small. Containers or a few in-ground beds are a great way to get started. Plowing up your entire yard will leave you frustrated and exhausted.

2. Take a soil sample- it's the first step to getting your soil in shape.

3. Visit neighbors with gardens- what plants grow well for them? Perhaps they will share their knowledge, experience, and seeds with you!

4. Your garden should be on level ground, receive at least 6 hours of full sun each day, and have easy access to water. Try to grow vegetables and herbs close to your home for convenience.

5. Fence out wildlife to protect your fruits and vegetables.

6. Add compost to make your garden soil fertile, crumbly, and well-drained.

7. Choose easy crops- marigolds, zinnias and other annuals add color and attract pollinators. Bush bean, tomato, cuĀ¬cumber, pepper, squash, and leafy greens are some easy vegetables. And don't forget those herbs!

8. Follow seed and plant spacing recommendations. Place taller crops on the north and west sides of your garden so they will not shade shorter plants.

9. Remove weeds by pulling or chopping them off at the soil line with a sharp hoe. Covering the soil with straw, leaves, or compost will help control weeds, keep the soil moist, and add soil nutrients.

10. Water when the soil is dry just below the surface. Avoid frequent, shallow watering. Fertilize as needed and take time to enjoy the peace, beauty, and bounty of your new garden!

The University of Maryland Extension Service is a great resource for beginners - and master gardeners. See the Grow it Eat It web site for great tips, suggestions and other resources. Traunfeld and other College of Agriculture faculty and Maryland Extension Service staff will be available on Maryland Day - April 30 - from 10 to 4 - to answer questions, and much, much more. See all the details about events on Ag Day Avenue here.