Pamela Connellan

Home & Garden

Ten gardening tips for beginners

Ten gardening tips for beginners

Wondering how to start a garden? You can find your confidence to do it with these expert gardening tips.

Site it right

Starting a garden is pretty much all about location. Place your garden in a part of your yard where you'll see it regularly because if it’s out of sight, it’ll be out of mind. This way, you'll be much more likely to spend time in it.

Follow the sun

Misjudging sunlight is a common pitfall when you're first learning to garden. Pay attention to how sunlight plays through your yard before choosing a spot for your garden. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least six hours of sun in order to thrive.

Stay close to water

One of the best gardening tips you'll ever get is to plan your new garden near a water source. Make sure you can run a hose to your garden site, so you don't have to carry water to it each time your plants get thirsty. The best way to tell if plants need watering is to push a finger an inch down into the soil (that's about one knuckle deep). If it's dry, it's time to water.

Start with great soil

When starting a garden, one of the top pieces of advice is to invest in soil which is nutrient-rich and well-drained. You can buy garden soil from hardware stores and mix this in with existing soil to make it more nutrient- dense for your plants.

Consider containers

When space is at a premium, look to containers. You can grow many plants in pots, including vegetables, herbs, flowers, fruit trees, berries, and shrubs. When gardening in containers, use a pot that's large enough for the plant it's hosting, and fill it with some potting mix. This will help the plants to thrive and it will also protect against over and under watering.

Choose the right plants

It's important to select plants which match your growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants in warm climates, and giving ground-gobbling vines like pumpkins and melons ample elbow room - or a trellis to climb up. Do your homework and pick varieties which will grow well where you live and in the space you have.

Discover your zone

Knowing your ‘hardiness zone’ can help you choose the best plants. Simply put, it describes the coldest place a plant can grow. The higher the zone number, the warmer the climate. So, if a plant is ‘hardy to zone 4’ and you garden in zone 5, that plant will survive in your yard. If, however, you're in zone 3, it's too cold to grow that particular plant.

Learn your frost dates

Planting too early or late in the season can spell disaster for your garden. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don't accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It's also good to know your first average fall frost date so you can get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them.

Add some mulch

Apply a layer of mulch that's two to three inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun, and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. Or, you can put down straw, shredded leaves, pine straw or some other locally available material.

Feed plants regularly

We've already talked about the importance of starting with great soil, but that soil works best in concert with regular boosts of high-quality nutrition for your plants. In other words, amazing soil + top-notch plant food = super garden success!

So, a month after planting, begin feeding your garden with some plant food you’re your local store and be sure to follow label directions.

Photos: Getty Images





Our Partners