How to Start Gardening

succulents growing on a garden stump

For someone who has never gardened before, starting a garden at your home may seem like a daunting task. Here are some steps to make the process of starting a garden simpler.

Figure Out Your Climate

Before starting a garden, make sure you understand the climate you are in and what plans make sense to grow in your area. For example, if you live in a desert area, cactuses and succulents may make a lot of sense. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, many flowers and other plants become viable options. If you live in an area with a long winter, make sure you get plants that can withstand the cold and bloom again the following year.

You can do a lot of this research online. You can also go to a local gardening store. Experts can help you decide what plants make the most sense for you and will likely have the plants that make the most sense for your climate and time of year on hand.

pine trees in beautiful landscape

Drought Friendly

If you live in an area of the U.S. like California, which does not get a lot of rain, you should consider a drought-friendly garden. Again, your local garden center should have plenty of drought-friendly plant options in place and be able to talk you through the various options.

Some municipalities actually have incentives for choosing drought-tolerant plants and for ripping up grass in favor of turf. Check with your local government to find out if it has any perks. These can offset the cost of purchasing some of these plants.

green succulent garden

Low Maintenance

If you are a newbie gardener, you might want to consider installing low-maintenance plants, trees, and vegetables in your garden. Generally speaking, trees and shrubs are lower maintenance than other things you may plant. Shrubs like euonymus, berberis, and magnolias are all great options. Barberry, for instance, has thorny stems which keep away critters and is drought tolerant. It should be planted in the spring in areas with wet soil.

If you are looking for color, perennials are a great option. The hardy geranium blooms in spring and summer and comes in various colors like white and pink. The peony is another great option. The peony also blooms in spring or fall.

There are also a variety of tree options that are low maintenance, including the hawthorn and honeysuckle.

honeysuckle flower

Complementary Plants

When deciding what plants to have in your garden, do not simply pick ones that are pretty. You must also make sure the plants will work well together and not fight for nutrients and space.

You should also look into companion planting, which is when plants grow better when together. The combination of the plants may keep away pests, for example, or one plant might draw nitrogen into the soil, enriching the others.

Swiss chard is a frequently used combination plant. Swiss chard attracts beneficial insects, which will also help the plant growing next to it. You could also consider putting things like carrots, which grow underground, next to a plant that grows up without a deep root system, like lettuce or kale.

kale growing in a barrel with other plants like parsley

Rock Garden

If you want a mid-century modern feel to your home, you could consider forgoing the greens altogether and creating a rock garden instead. They are incredibly low maintenance but do require some planning work.

Before you start sourcing rocks, you should determine where you want the rock garden to be located in your yard. This will affect the number and size of rocks you need for the project. Areas with a slope or that don't get much sun are great places for a rock garden, especially because they may not work for another type of gardening.

You can purchase rocks from a gardening store or source them online. Make sure to get a variety of rock sizes to make your rock garden feel natural. Do not purchase rocks or boulders so heavy that you can not get them in and out of your car.