Gardening for Beginners

Gardening takes patience, persistence, and time. For many people, it also seems to be a mystifying process. Beyond growing a pre-bought plant from a store, the gardener becomes responsible for the process from beginning to end, year after year, cycle after cycle. Growing a garden is not difficult if you are prepared with the proper tools, tips, and tricks.

Step 1: Pick a garden

Would you like to have a beautiful flower garden with blooming roses and tulips, an herb garden to spice up your meals, or a functional vegetable garden? Perhaps you’d like to experiment with two different types of gardens? No problem. Decide on the flowers, herbs, and vegetables that make sense for your region and climate. Because this is your first garden, consider plants that are easier to grow:

Flowers: Perennials (Echinacea, Foxglove, Achillea)

Herbs:  Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Oregano

Vegetables: Beets, Carrots, Tomatoes, Radishes

Step 2: Get the right tools

Before you remove your seedlings from their pots, make sure you have all the tools you’ll need:

  • A gardener’s stool saves you from kneeling on hard surfaces and bending over for long periods of time, which can be very difficult on the body. Save yourself the pain, and invest in a stool. Your knees will be grateful.
  • Gardening gloves protect your hands from thorns and splinters even if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.
  • A hand trowel makes digging out weeds and maneuvering around delicate plants easier.
  • Spades or shovels are used to dig out holes for new plants or move soil around. Consider spending a little more money on a decent one, so that planting can be a little easier.
  • Garden hoes and rakes are essential in a gardener’s war against weeds. Depending on the plants in your garden, you’ll want a larger or skinnier garden hoe to move around your plants.
  • Watering is an important part of any garden. If your garden is bigger and you have access to a water source, use a long watering hose with a specialized watering attachment. If your garden is smaller, you can walk through the garden with a watering bucket and save yourself the hassle of dragging a hose through your garden.

Step 3: Planning the Garden

Perhaps the most important step, this is where most beginners take their first misstep by making their garden too large. A large garden can lead to too much work for a novice as well as exhaustion. Start small. Your garden could begin as a tiny patch in your back yard, or a tasteful way to line the front entrance of your home.

After you have your location, map out where each item will go. Certain plants need a little more space to grow, so measure first and buy second. Lastly, don’t be afraid to mix flowers, herbs, vegetables together. Integrating different plants keeps pests and weeds from targeting a certain plant.

Step 4: Planting the garden

A month or so before you are ready to plant, rake your garden plot and then add a layer of compost. Continue to rake until there are no weeds or clumps of dirt left. Clear stones away as well. Let the soil sit for the rest of the month and rake again if you notice more weeds. Then, begin to moisten the soil. It is important for it not to be too dry, but also not soaked. Monitor the weather in your area to see how much you should water your plants.

You can either use seeds or transplants (plants grown in a container) to start your garden. Choose whichever method works for you and place the transplant or seed into the planting hole as described on the seed packets or transplants you purchased. Cover the seeds or transplants with soil and water. Never allow the plant bed to get completely dry.

Step 5: Maintenance

Now that you have sowed your seeds and laid down your plants, it’s time to watch the garden grow! But not so fast, maintaining your garden is essential to the health of your plants. If you constantly weed by hand, you will be more likely to stop weeds before they become a larger problem. For more persistent weeds, use your garden hose or rake. Make sure there is always a layer of mulch on your soil to block weeds from growing.

Gardening has become increasingly popular. Join a club or local beautification organization to improve your skills and learn from seasoned gardeners. They’ll give you helpful tips, and also be able to answer questions you might have about your garden.