How to Start Your Own Garden - A Guide for Beginners

Outdoor and Gardening
Gardening
Outdoor Additions
By Contractors.com Team May 04, 2021

Gardening is a great metaphor for the value of effort and perseverance in life. This outdoor hobby is an important reminder that even in our world of instant gratification and next-day delivery there is still something to be said for patience. There’s at least one thing in this life that you still have to wait to achieve, and that is a luscious garden. But in order to achieve that luscious oasis one day, it’s best to start off on the right foot. Home gardening can seem difficult at first, but you’ll be happy to know that most home gardening projects are quite simple.

There are also plenty of considerable benefits to starting your home garden. Starting your garden is all down to getting the first few simple steps right. If you’ve been wondering and deliberating on how to start a garden, know that you’re just a few gardening tips and tricks away from doing it and doing it well.

Picking the Right Spot

Gardening is a hobby that will teach you to be more connected to nature. Knowing where to plant and where not to plant is part and parcel of that awareness. Two major factors should be taken into account when looking for the right spot to plant: sun and water. Your plants will need a good amount of sun (at least six hours a day) if they are to do well. However, it's important not to give your plants too much sun also. If you live in an especially hot place - like Arizona - you’ll need to have some kind of shading for your plants. Water is another essential for your plants. As a rule of thumb, the closer your plants are to a water hose, the better. Ideally, you want your plants in easy reach of your garden hose, so you can keep them hydrated in the dog days of summer.   

How to Start Your Home Garden

How to Start Your Home Garden

What You’ll Need: Tools and Pots

You’ll need a few basic gardening tools to get started. These can all be found at any big box hardware store:

  • Gloves (protect your hands from insects, thorns, and splinters)
  • Pruning shears (a must for keeping plants trimmed)
  • Loppers (also a must, for trimming hard to reach plants)
  • Garden fork (great for turning soil)
  • Trowel (a great tool for transplanting plants, removing weeds)
  • Spade (an essential workhorse tool)
  • Rake (very useful for clearing leaves and debris)
  • Hoe (great for cutting down weeds and preparing flower beds)
  • Garden hose
  • Watering wand (hose attachment that sprinkles water on your plants)
  • Watering can (for all those places your hose can’t reach)
  • Wheelbarrow (very useful if you need to move a lot of dirt, compost, or mulch)
Tools You Need for Beginner Gardening

Tools You Need for Beginner Gardening

While at your local gardening store, you might also decide to get some soil and gardening pots. Pots are an ideal solution if you don’t have much space for planting. They are also better at keeping the soil moist for longer, making them better able to deal with sudden temperature fluctuations. 

What to Plant

There are a whole bunch of plants that are easy for beginners and easy on your wallet. It all depends on what you want to grow. Whether you want a nice luscious vegetable garden or colorful flower beds, take a look at these beginner-friendly plants:

  • Lettuce: a very productive vegetable, a single lettuce seed packet will give you five months’ worth of lettuce. Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow, as well as one of the most affordable. For just $4 and a little water, you can have more lettuce than you would ever need. 
  • Potatoes: for less than the price of a packet of potatoes, you can get more than 40 potatoes. You don’t even need potato seeds to grow a potato plant. All you need is a potato. It’s literally that easy to get started. 
  • Curly Kale: not everyone likes kale, but you might change your mind after this. Curly kale is very healthy; low in calories and high in nutrients, it’s a highly versatile vegetable that can be used in many different meals. You can grow it in just six weeks with a pack of seeds that cost around $3.
What to Plant In Your New Garden

What to Plant In Your New Garden

  • Tomatoes: your average tomato plant doesn’t need much to succeed. It also doesn’t need much space, so it’s ideal for smaller gardens. You can even grow tomatoes in a DIY garden box. They also don’t take much time to come to fruition. You can enjoy fresh juicy tomatoes just 12 weeks after planting. To top it off, most tomato plants can continue giving you homegrown tomatoes for up to six years.   
  • Lilies: a strikingly beautiful flower beloved by many gardeners, lilies are renowned for their bright and happy colors, and their hardy nature. They deal well with the cold and don’t have to be dug up in the winter. Unfortunately, rabbits love them too, so be sure to invest in some repellent to keep the munchy bunnies away.
  • Jerusalem Artichoke: Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke isn’t a vegetable, but is in fact a hardy, pretty flower. It grows quite tall, reaching 7 feet which is great for keeping your more dainty plants from getting too much sun. The Jerusalem artichoke won’t mind the extra sun, as it needs all the sun it can get to be healthy.     
Best Plants to Grow In Your Garden

Best Plants to Grow In Your Garden

When to Plant

Some people believe that you can’t start planting until April, or even May. However, this is something of a misconception. In most parts of the United States, you can plant your veggies even earlier, and harvest them by April 0r May. Planting in early spring is all down to planting the right crops that can cope with the occasional frost. There are a bunch of plants that are ideal for this (including lettuce, cabbage, and kale). As a general rule of thumb for springtime planting, you should plan to plant a few weeks before the final frost. For fall planting, the goal is to have everything planted at least 4 weeks before the ground freezes. This will give your plants a chance to have deep roots, which will help them survive the winter. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a very useful calendar if you want a precise guide of the best times for planting in your region for both the spring and the fall.     

The Best Time of Year to Start Your Garden

The Best Time of Year to Start Your Garden

Home Garden Design Ideas for Inspiration

As any landscape contractor will tell you, there are a lot of creative gardening designs that will make your garden more aesthetically pleasing. Introducing some softscaping into your garden involves designing layouts for plants and bushes which are as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Landscape contractors can also help you with lawn maintenance. Garden landscaping requires constant pruning, removal, replacement, and trimming. Of course, as a beginner, you probably don’t need the help of a landscape contractor, especially if you’re just planning a small garden. Nevertheless, it’s good to keep in mind that you have that option if you have ambitious plans for your garden’s future growth. 

Ambitious or not, putting some thought into your garden plan is well worth the time.

1. Kitchen Garden Plan

If you dream of living off of your own vegetable garden layout, free from the clutches of your local Walmart, this is the plan for you. A kitchen garden plan transforms your vacant lawn into an efficient grid of epic gardening raised beds. Raised garden beds are a great way to increase the productivity of your garden. These are easy to build, and you can put one together in just a few hours. To increase the productivity of your garden even further, you can practice French intensive gardening with your raised garden beds. French intensive gardening is quite popular with urban gardeners because it can greatly increase your garden’s yield. This is achieved by intensive gardening practices designed to increase the productivity of your vegetable plants. 

Home Garden Design Ideas for Inspiration

Home Garden Design Ideas for Inspiration

2. Raised Planter Garden

If you like the idea of an expansive kitchen garden, but don’t have enough room, this is the next best thing. With one raised planter, you can make enough room for a mini-vegetable garden. French intensive gardening is still possible with this setup.  Raised planters are ideal for this type of gardening because they have rich, well-drained soil.

Raised Planter Garden for Limited Space

Raised Planter Garden for Limited Space

3. Crevice Garden

If you would rather have a floral garden, this is a great design to consider. It has a special ability to turn even a relatively small and drab garden into a beautiful spectrum of color. The crevice design is an exercise in simplicity, with most of the garden covered with paving stones. The only places with plain soil are where the flower beds will go. This is an ideal solution if you have a space covered with paving stones, since then all you have to do is remove a few to make room for some flower beds.

How to Create Garden Space In A Stone Covered Area

How to Create Garden Space In A Stone Covered Area

4. Evergreen Screen

With a screen of evergreens, you can make sure your garden is always green even when the sky is wintery grey. During the summertime, your evergreens can have some colorful floral companions and can provide shade for the younger plants. The beauty of this setup comes from its versatility. It can be a combination of a floral, evergreen, herbal, or vegetable garden and everything in between.   

Garden Designs That Are Pretty and Practical

Garden Designs That Are Pretty and Practical

Bonus Tips:

  • No-work mulching: Mulching is a great way to nourish your soil and keep those pesky weeds at bay. If you’re into the home gardening scene, you might have heard of Ruth Stout’s no work gardening method”. Stout’s method involves mulching with lots of hay. Instead of pulling out weeds, she just smothers them with hay mulch. Using this method means you don’t have to do as much watering, plowing, weeding, or hoeing. However, it works better with smaller gardens since you’ll need a lot of hay for this method. 
  • Preparing your soil: There are few things you can do to give your soil the nutrients it needs for gardening. You can simply buy some soil from the store, but you can also add organic matter to your existing soil (rotting wood, rotting plant matter, compost). Raking and fertilizing existing soil will also work wonders. Most gardens will need a combination of these solutions for the best results.
  • Be mindful of glass: If you have any glass ornaments or glass shards on or around your yard, you should remove them. Aside from the cutting risk, glass tends to reflect and magnify the sun’s rays and this can cause plants to get scorched. It could even cause a fire in very dry conditions. 

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team