Have you been thinking about how nice it would be to have some colorful flowers growing in your yard or maybe some fresh vegetables for your kitchen, but unsure how to go about starting your own garden? Since people have been gardening for thousands of years, starting a garden isn’t overly difficult, but it does require a fair amount of physical work plus some time commitment. If you’re a beginning gardener, here’s some tips on how you can go about setting up your own successful garden.
1. Start Small
The first thing to keep in mind is to start small. Establishing a garden takes physical effort (removing sod, moving rocks) and taking care of a big garden with lots of different plants might be overwhelming until you feel more confident. Remember you can always expand your garden—next year.
2. Choose a Location
Look around your yard and decide on the best location for your garden. Flowers and vegetables usually like to have around six hours of sunlight a day (although some flowers do prefer partially shaded locations). Keep in mind that afternoon sun is hotter than morning sun, and the soil in areas where the wind has open access will dry out more quickly than soil in more protected sites.
3. Know Your Soil
A successful garden requires good soil, so have your soil tested. Most garden centers will sell you a test kit or even test your soil, but another alternative could be the extension division of a local college or university. They’ll test your soil, give you a report on its makeup and tell you what needs to be done to improve it, usually by adding amendments such as organic fertilizer or compost.
You’ll need to dig these amendments into the soil, either with a shovel or a garden tiller. Digging (tilling) also helps break up large lumps and clumps in the soil making it easier for planting.
5. Select Plants
When it comes to choosing your plants, try to pick plants that will thrive in your garden location. Spend some time checking out the plants at a garden center and pick a relatively small number (say three to five) that have the same sun, soil and moisture needs.
6. Plant Correctly
When planting, place your plants in the ground at the same depth as they were in the pots you brought home from the garden center - too deep and the roots will die and too shallow they will dry out.
After planting, gently give them a good watering and make sure they get the equivalent of one inch of water each week during the growing season.
A Gardening Tip for Beginners
Many communities have local gardening clubs and if there is one in your area, it’s a great way to learn from veteran gardeners. At the garden club you will find out what plants grow well in your climate zone, and pick up tips and tricks from seasoned gardeners. As an added bonus, you may also be able to get some free (or at least inexpensive) perennials or seedlings when members thin their gardens in the spring, or maybe some seeds at a seed exchange.