Gardening is one of the most rewarding activities you can do at home. You can plant blooming florals and attractive shrubs to boost the curb appeal of your home or grow your own produce in a vegetable garden. About 53% of people have said that gardening makes them feel more productive, so no matter what kind of garden you start you can experience the rewarding feeling of growing things with your own hands. If you’re a novice gardener, however, it can be difficult to know how to start a garden. Let’s take a look at some of the most helpful steps beginning gardeners should follow.
1. Decide What You’re Growing
As we mentioned, there are a lot of options to choose from when planting a garden. If you’re leaning towards starting a vegetable or herb garden so that you can cook with homegrown produce, carefully consider what vegetables and herbs you will actually use. Don’t grow veggies and herbs that you know your family won’t eat just for the sake of growing them. If you want to plant flowers to enjoy their color and fragrance, decide whether you want annuals or perennials. Annuals will bloom most of the summer but need to be replanted every year while perennials have a shorter bloom time but will return year after year.
All of these gardening options are valid choices, but not every option will be right for your schedule and skill set. Before you buy your plants, be sure that you know their maintenance requirements and are ready to commit to the work they take.
You’ll also want to be sure the plants you choose are suited to your climate, soil, and sunlight. If any of these elements don’t match up with the needs of your plants, your garden won’t be very successful. Consider starting with plants that are easier to grow and care for. The best vegetables for beginners are cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers. In terms of annuals, beginners tend to do best with geraniums, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias. For perennials, try pansies, black-eyed Susans, daylilies, and purple coneflowers. With any type of plant, a great strategy is to start small until you understand exactly what you’re getting into. If the plant suits your gardening needs and dreams, you can then add more of it to grow your garden.
2. Pick The Right Spot
To find the best spot for your garden, observe your yard throughout the day to determine which spots receive full sun, partial shade, and full shade. In general, vegetables and flowers need six to eight hours of full sun each day. This means you’ll want to plant your garden in the sunniest spots of your yard.
If your property gets a lot of shade, adjust your gardening plans to include shade-loving plants, such as ferns and hostas. If you think your property is a bit too sun-soaked for the type of garden you want, try planting trees and shrubs to create shady spots. Although they’re not as ostentatious as annuals and perennials, well-maintained trees and shrubs can create a 14% increase in your property’s value. You also won’t have to replant your trees and shrubs every year and they will generally require less care than the other plants in your garden.
The spot you pick for your garden should also be relatively flat. A sloping garden is typically more difficult and time-consuming to maintain. Try to place the garden in a spot that’s protected from strong winds by using your home or your neighbor’s home as windbreaks. You’ll also want your garden to be in a spot where you can’t ignore it, such as by the back door or next to the mailbox. If your garden is out of sight, you’ll be more likely to neglect it.
3. Get the Ground Ready
Preparing the ground for your garden beds is the most labor-intensive part of starting a garden. Be sure to hydrate well when preparing your garden, especially if its warm outside. You’ll also want to stretch beforehand. The human body contains over 650 muscles and the process of preparing the garden engages a good portion of them. To create a garden bed, you need to get rid of the sod covering the area. For quick results, slice under the sod with a spade, cut it into sections to make it easier to remove, and put it in a compost pile to decompose.
Next, you’ll have to dig your garden bed. Start digging when the soil is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist but dry enough to fall apart when you drop the ball. Gently turn the top eight to 12 inches of soil with a sharp spade or spading fork and mix in organic matter to improve the soil’s quality. Your organic matter should be a two- to three-inch layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure.
4. Plant Your Garden
The time has finally come to plant! Although some plants can tolerate cold weather, most prefer warm temperatures and need to be planted after the possibility of frost has passed in your area. If you’re planting seeds, be sure to read the seed packet for information on planting time, spacing, and depth.
In general, it is easier to start your garden with young plants rather than seedlings. Dig holes in your prepared garden bed and base their spacing and depth on the instructions on the tags of your plants. Remove your plants from their containers by pushing up from the bottom. Use a fork or your fingers to untangle roots that have grown into a big ball before setting the plant in the garden. Once in their holes, pat the soil into place around the roots and soak the soil with water. Add a couple of inches of mulch on top of your garden’s soil to help keep weeds out and moisture in. Mulch also creates a finished look to your garden in addition to protecting your plants.
Starting a garden takes time and effort, but it is a wonderful hobby that can beautify your home. Remember to keep up with the garden’s maintenance after you start it to ensure its success. This involves pulling weeds, watering about once a week, banishing pesky insects, and harvesting vegetables as soon as they’re ready. By keeping up with these simple tasks, you’ll have a flourishing garden that brings you joy every day.