Spring has sprung and the earthy smell of warmer weather is finally here. Soon, we’ll see greener grass and blossoming flowers everywhere we go. What does that mean, exactly? It’s officially time to start working on your garden!
Planting a garden isn’t just a popular Spring time hobby, it can really enhance the outdoor beauty of your home. If you’re new to gardening and want to learn more about how to do it right, have no fear. Sometimes, creating the right environment, optimizing your soil and picking out plants that will grow beautifully in your yard can be tricky. That’s why we’ve done a little of our own research, so we can provide you with everything you need to know about starting your very first garden.
1. Know where and when to plant.
A plant’s ability to grow completely depends on its environment. Since most plants will thrive in some parts of the world but not others, it’s important to know which species will succeed in your location. First, sun exposure and temperature are key factors. Plants that are grown in mostly shaded areas will produce less blooms, and seeds for warm-weather flowers won’t grow if early Spring temperatures are still cool. Always consider factors like climate and sunlight when deciding which plants are suitable for your garden.
If you live in Northern areas where winter temperatures are cold, you’ll need to wait until mid-Spring, after the chance of frost has passed, to plant most flowers. In this case, the end of April through May is an ideal timeframe to begin your garden.
2. Invest in the right tools.
Creating an awesome garden starts with the right equipment. Garden Design Magazine recommends these eight tools for beginners:
- Gloves – $2.97 Home Depot
- Hand trowel – $3.98 Lowe’s
- Spade – $33.26 Walmart
- Rake – $17.99 Ace Hardware
- Hoe – $9.99 Hayneedle
- Long hose (with adjustable nozzle) – $7.99 Sears
- Loppers – $3.99 Blain’s Farm & Fleet
- Wheelbarrow – $49.99 True Value
3. Pick your plants.
You’ll need to decide whether you’d like to plant annuals, perennials or both. Here’s the difference:
Annual Plants have a life cycle that lasts only one year. These plants will bloom, mature and die in one growing season.
Perennial Plants will stay alive underground year after year. The plant above the surface will most likely die in the winter months, but grow back once Spring returns. Perennials can last anywhere from 3 to 20 years, depending on the species.
You can grow some plants from seed and spread them throughout your garden, or you can buy young plants, dig a hole and just place them right in the soil. Sunflowers, marigolds, pansies and zinnias are perfect for beginners because they’re low maintenance and easy to grow!
4. Get to know your soil.
The makeup of your soil will determine how your plant grows and absorbs the nutrients it needs. Soil texture should be smooth, moderately loose and easy to shovel. Knowing the pH of your soil can help determine what plants will grow best in your garden. Most local gardening stores will test a sample of your soil, or you can test it yourself with an at-home kit.
Tip: Adding compost to your soil can help plant growth, too!
5. Never let your plants go hungry.
Most importantly, your plants need water to grow, survive and thrive. However, root growth is best when plants are watered just as they’re beginning to dry out. Gardena recommends sufficiently watering your garden once or twice per week, either late in the evening or early in the morning. In cooler temperatures, less water will evaporate from the soil, thus supplying the plants with plenty of water before the heat returns.
Fertilizer may also be a good idea. It can fortify your plants and make them more resistant to unexpected environmental factors. Since not all fertilizers are friendly to plants, make sure you do your research and pick out the right type. Organic fertilizers tend to be more pricey, but they’re natural and generally safer for your garden.
Tip: Be sure to use a setting on your hose that distributes water evenly and across all areas of your garden. Fan nozzles are perfect for watering smaller gardens!