Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Pick the right location to plant
- 3 Start Small first - plot size
- 4 Work the soil
- 5 Top plants to grow first
- 6 Top vegetables to plant for beginners
- 7 How to choose which to plant?
- 8 When to plant your vegetables
- 9 Water at the perfect time
- 10 Use Mulch To Protect Your Garden
- 11 Preserving your garden
- 12 Pull weeds out
- 13 Add some container plants to your garden
- 14 Clean Patio
- 15 Garden Lighting
- 16 Furniture
- 17 Conclusion
Looking to get into a new hobby with plenty of reward? Gardening is a fantastic choice. Gardening can be incredibly therapeutic, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors and having the knowledge that at the end of the season, you’ll have yummy fruits and vegetables that you can enjoy.
Gardening is getting increasingly more popular too, especially among the younger generation. In fact, according to the National Gardening Survey, 23.1 million American adults turned a section of their garden into somewhere where they can grow natural gardens and wildflowers.
It’s not difficult to see why either, since in a study of 317 people, Thrive found that 80 percent of people reported experiencing improved mental health after gardening.
Of course, gardening often isn’t a native skill to many of us. For this reason, it can sometimes be tricky to know where to start.
Thankfully, we’re here to help. Read on for our ultimate guide on growing the perfect garden.
Pick the right location to plant
When it comes to starting your garden, one of the most important things to do is to choose where you are going to plant things. Now, the place where you plant your food and flowers will depend on the plant and what it needs, but there are a few general guidelines that you can follow.
Plant in a sunny location.
This may seem a little obvious, but the first thing to do is to make sure that your plant site is going to be in a sunny place. Plants need to have sunlight in order to survive. They should be in the sunlight for a minimum of six hours a day.
If possible, it’s best to put your plants in a location where they will thrive in the sun for the longest amount of time with the best exposure.
It’s better not to put it in a shaded area, so if you have trees in your garden location you may want to clear them away if you can do so.
It’s important to remember that the sun angle can change throughout the day and depending on the season too. If you can it’s worth seeing if you can gauge what parts of the garden get the most sunlight during certain times of the year.
Plant in a stable environment
You will also want to ensure that you plant your garden in a stable, secure environment. This means somewhere that isn’t going to be damaged by things like pets or overly excited children.
Consider whether there are creatures that may try to get into your garden, and if there’s a way to deter the animals or creatures from getting in.
In addition to this, you should be planting your garden in a location that isn’t going to be flooded a lot when it rains, and you also don’t want to plant anywhere that’s going to dry out on a regular basis.
Keep your plants away from particularly strong winds as this could easily destroy all of your progress.
Ultimately, you just want to make sure that you are protecting your plants so that they can truly thrive.
Plant in moist, well-drained soil
You can’t just plant your garden anywhere! You also need to put some serious thought into the soil that you will be planting your garden into.
The soil is the basis of your garden. It’s possible to make soil better of course, but it’s often better just to plant the garden in a location where the soil is already of a high quality.
Make sure that you enrich the soil too with some high quality compost that’s high in nutrients, so that the soil is an even better quality before you plant your garden.
Now, we aren’t all soil experts, so you may be wondering how exactly you can tell whether your soil is a good foundation for your plants. You can do something called the soil test to check.
To do this, soak the soil with water and then leave it there overnight. It probably seems a little bit obvious to say, but try to do this on a sunny day. It won’t really work if it’s raining.
The next morning, go out into your garden and grab some of the soil. Squeeze it as tightly as possible so that it’s compressed. If it ends up crumbling then it’s too sandy. The soil should ideally gently fall apart. You can plant your garden in this soil.
Start Small first - plot size
Once you have chosen the location for your garden, you should then choose how big you want the plot to be.
You’ve just started with gardening, so it’s easy to get sucked into the idea that you should plant every single thing known to man. We get it, it’s exciting! Of course, this is a rookie error - try not to plant too many different things at once.
Start off small, and this also means starting on a smaller plot. Don’t try and grow the equivalent of a farm’s worth of crops when you first start out.
So what size should you have at first? If you’re just getting started with gardening, a plot that measures around 16 x 10 feet should be more than sufficient. This is even better if you’ve chosen plants that are easy to plant. Just plant enough to feed your family. You can plant more as you get more experienced!
Work the soil
Before you plant your vegetables and flowers, you first need to make sure that the soil is prepared! This will help to ensure that your planting is successful. Here’s what you need to do.
- Make Sure The Soil Is Dry Enough
Rule number one of working soil? Don’t work it when it’s wet. It shouldn’t be squelchy in any way - you need something dry. If you work soil that is wet you run the risk of damaging the structure of it.
This means it may not cope so well going forward, whether it’s wet or dry. Your plants also will not thank you if you plant them in soil that’s saturated with water. You can check the moisture level of the soil by following our guidance in the previous section.
- Grab Your Fork!
No, we don’t mean to eat the soil! Grab yourself a broad fork or a fork that’s designed for digging and then loosen up the soil a little bit. Don’t try to flip it over just yet.
Remove any weeds in the garden - they’re a massive pain when you’re trying to plant crops and flowers. The dandelions may look pretty for a while, but it’s better to remove them now than to face a bigger issue later down the line.
- Start Composting
Next it’s time to grab your compost. Check how fertile your soil is first before you add the compost, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. You can then rake the soil to make it smooth.
- Starting Planting
Finally it’s time to get those seeds in the ground. It’s often best to plant on cloudy days - you don’t want your seeds to get too hot in the sun. Plant your seeds in the ground and they’re ready to start growing!
Top plants to grow first
Now that you know some of the basics of gardening, you need to know what to plant. What grows the fastest, what things are the easiest to grow if you’re a beginner? Here are some suggestions.
Annuals such as cosmos, sunflowers, marigolds and impatiens
The first things you should try to grow are annual flowers. This includes the following:
Sunflowers are one of the most popular kinds of flowers to grow when you first start gardening.
These plants can grow super tall - as high as 14 feet in some occasions! How does it feel to know that a flower could be over double your height?
These flowers enjoy living in soil that’s sunny and a little bit sheltered, but you will need to do some maintenance with these little guys.
As they grow taller you may need to try to support the stems to keep them standing properly.
These fun flowers are great fun to plant, especially if you’re starting your garden with the little ones! These flowers are incredibly colorful, and you can get some that are short and some that are tall, depending on what you want.
They enjoy lots of sunshine and they like fertile soil that’s been drained well. They’re super easy to grow and they don’t require a great deal of maintenance.
Pansies are a must have for any beautiful garden. You can grow them with ease from a seed or you can get a plug plant. These flowers enjoy a lot of luscious fertile soil, and prefer to stay either in total sunlight or in a tiny bit of shade.
Make sure that you get rid of any seed heads that grow on the flowers though as they may not make any more flowers if they do end up foing to seed.
Impatiens are annuals and they look stunning in a flower bed in a well maintained garden. They’re also super simple to grow. They like to reside in moist soil that has been drained well. Make sure you water these little guys regularly, or they may end up losing their leaves if they get too dry!
You can also try to grow cosmos! These look like slightly larger, colored daisies. They have long stems and vibrant petals. They’re great if you want to attract wildlife such as butterflies and birds into your garden. The soil also doesn’t need to be perfect for these plants to thrive. They can grow as tall as 60 inches in some circumstances!
Perennials such as daylilies, phlox and coneflowers
Alternatively, you can grow some perennial plants. Here are just a few.
These gorgeous perennials will look incredible in your garden. They can come in a variety of colors, including orange, purple, white, red and yellow.
They are great for attracting butterflies and they’re super simple to grow. They can grow as tall as three feet!
For blooms that will make a real buzz in your backyard, you will adore the phlox.
This perennial will start to show its vibrant colors from the middle of the summer to the fall, and these also come in a wide range of different beautiful colors. Just put them in a nice sunny place that has plenty of air circulation, in some moist soil that’s been drained well. They can grow pretty tall too!
- Lady’s Mantle
Want to add some variation to your garden? Plant some lady’s mantle. The leaves of this perennial are very unique looking, and it consists of a bunch of tiny little yellow flowers.
They can last for a number of weeks and need to be planted in full sun to part shade. Plant them into some medium moist soil that has been well drained. They’re also fantastic for flower arrangements!
The daylily adds a little bit of sunshine to your garden. Just put them in an area with a lot of sunshine and put some mulch around them so that the weeds will stay away. They come in various colors, and are super easy to maintain.
- Blanket Flower
With the blanket flower you’ll be looking at bursts of orange, yellow and red for months. It’s incredibly simple to grow and the flowers are ideal for drawing in butterflies and bees. It doesn’t live for very long unfortunately so you may need to re plant them every two to three years so you can keep these gorgeous blooms in your garden for years to come.
If you want a perennial that will look gorgeous in the summer, make sure that you plant plenty of sedum. They can even deal with a little bit of drought, can grow pretty tall and come in all sorts of gorgeous colors.
They do a great job of attracting common garden pollinators such as bees. Just grow them in full sunlight and a little bit of shade, and ensure that the soil is moist and drained well.
The Chrysanthemum may be hard to spell, but it certainly isn’t hard to plant. These fall flowers are a real treat to behold. They are available in a lot of sizes and shapes, and you can see colors ranging from white, to lavender to yellow and various other colors in between.
Again, unfortunately these perennials don’t tend to last an awful long time so it’s important that you plant them every one to two years. Plant them in total sunlight in some well drained, moist soil for the best results.
Top vegetables to plant for beginners
You want your garden to look beautiful, but of course you also want it to have a practical function, right? In this case, you should also plant a variety of fruits and vegetables in your garden. Here are just a few that you can plant when you’re first starting out that won’t be overly complicated. We’ve even included links on how to grow them easily!
If you’re looking to plant some delicious vegetables in your garden, lettuce is a fantastic choice. Of course, there isn’t just one type of lettuce either - you have iceberg lettuce, rocket lettuce and so many more types that you can experiment with.
Lettuce can go fantastically well with a range of different dishes to provide that all-important crunch, such as salads and burgers.
What’s even better is that you can sow the seeds during the summer and harvest your labor a mere 3 weeks afterwards.
What’s even better is that lettuce can keep on growing which means that you can harvest it later down the line over and over again.
There’s nothing better than some healthy green beans to add a little freshness to your plate!
These vegetables are very popular, and they can be grown easily.
They’re so easy to grow, in fact, that a child could grow them.
Did anyone say family gardening time?
You can begin to plant green beans at any point during the year so long as the chances of frost making an appearance are long gone.
Want something to accompany your tasty lettuces in your salad? Well, it’s time to grow some radishes!
These crunchy vegetables provide your meal with a pop of color, and you can grow them either straight into the ground or into containers.
There are a few different types of radish too, so you can experiment as you see fit.
To grow them, simply sow the seeds around 44 weeks after the last sign of frost has gone. Keep growing them throughout the summer.
They only take around a month to ripen too, so you can enjoy these crunchy veggies all the time throughout the year.
Tomatoes can add a little bit of extra zest to any meal!
Try growing some bush variety or cherry tomatoes as these are incredibly simple to grow.
They also grow very quickly too, so you can practically watch them grow step by step!
You can grow certain varieties in hanging baskets and window boxes too, so it’s ideal if you don’t have a great deal of space in your garden.
You need to sow tomatoes seeds around February To April, and then you can get a bountiful harvest from the Summer to the Fall.
Zucchini is by far one of the easiest beginner vegetables to grow.
What makes it even better is that when you grow it you will get a lot of bang for your buck - the harvest is pretty impressive!
To grow it, make sure that you grow it after the frosty cold season has passed.
It’s best to plant Zucchini when it’s above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can grow the vegetable in succession if you want an even more impressive harvest.
Peppers are a staple of many different dishes, and being able to grow some high quality peppers is one of those things that is sure to impress your guests and family.
They can be a little bit harder to grow when you live in a colder climate, but they are relatively easy to grow as a whole.
Make sure that you grow your peppers in a hot location, and have some patience as they can take a while to grow.
For a vegetable high in fiber and lots of delicious, healthy nutrients, you truly can’t go wrong with beets.
This is a great vegetable for adding a little bit of color to your meals with a vibrant purple color.
Thankfully you can grow them in cool temperatures too, so they’re perfect if you want some vegetables to grow during the spring and late into the summer.
It’s often best to plant them in the full sun if possible though.
If you’re learning to garden, it’s essential to make sure that you know how to grow carrots!
Carrots are a great vegetable for so many dishes, from soups to stews to salads and everything else in between.
Make sure that you plant your carrots during March through to June, and you can easily reap the rewards of your crop within around 14 to 16 weeks.
Only water them when it’s excessively dry in your garden.
These three vegetables are super simple to grow!
They can also be used in a range of different dishes, providing a whole slew of health benefits for you to enjoy.
You can grow things like Kale during the spring, and chard can be grown during the summer.
Peas are another great beginner vegetable to grow.
They require very little maintenance, and you just need to sow the seeds during March to June.
You can then expect some delicious green peas during the Summer.
You will need to make sure that the stems are supported but this is fairly easy to sort out.
How to choose which to plant?
With so many fantastic fruits, vegetables and flowers to plant, how exactly can you choose the right ones for your garden? Here are a few things to think about.
Consider what Vegetables are Available
The first thing to consider is what kinds of vegetables are available for you to grow. Think about the kinds of plants that are available to purchase in your local garden store.
You should also think about whether the plant can be grown in your state - for instance, some fruits and vegetables may be illegal to grow in your state.
Some fruits and vegetables may also not grow in your state’s climate.
It’s worth thinking about this before you choose what vegetables you grow.
If you’re growing your plants in a greenhouse then this can slightly change things as you can manipulate the environment a little more.
As a rule though, it’s worth seeing what sorts of plants can be grown successfully in your area. You can check online for this kind of information, or you can ask local gardeners for their input.
High Quality Seeds are a must
When you are getting your garden ready you should also make sure that you only get the best quality seeds.
Make sure that you’re buying them from reputable garden retailers - high quality seeds will help you ensure that you get the best possible harvest.
Ultimately, a seed is the beginning of a living organism so you need to make sure that they’re high quality. There are a range of different kinds of seeds to consider, such as heirloom seeds, open pollinated or organic seeds.
If you have any doubts about the quality of the seeds, then it’s worth buying them from a local gardening store and asking some questions about the seeds while you are there.
Naturally, there are also some seeds that you should stay away from when building your garden. First of all, stay away from any hybrid seeds and any genetically modified seeds. You should also avoid any treated seeds. Make sure that your seeds are natural and from a retailer that you can trust.
Be realistic on how much will you be used
It’s very easy to go overboard when buying seeds - after all, you’re excited to get into gardening!
When you’re first starting out though, it’s much better for your wallet if you are realistic about the amount that you’re going to use.
As we’ve said previously, it’s a good idea to err on the conservative side at first - don’t try to plant too much at once.
Buy enough for one crop to start with, and then you can buy more as you go.
There’s no need to buy a 3 month supply right off the bat!
When to plant your vegetables
One of the most important things to think about when it comes to gardening is timing. When should you plant your vegetables? This can make all the difference in terms of your crop’s success, so here’s what you need to know.
There are a few different things to think about when it comes to when you should be planting your vegetables. First of all, you need to make sure that you’re planting your vegetables at the correct time of the year.
For instance, some vegetables will not grow during the winter months, but perhaps they need to be planted right after the last of the frost for the year is gone.
You will find that a lot of vegetables need to be planted during the Spring months, but there are some that need to be planted earlier or later.
Knowing frost dates is essential for ensuring that your plants don’t end up being killed before they’ve even given you a harvest.
We’ve gone into this more in depth in our 2021 Planting Calendar, but it all depends on your planting zone. For instance, if you’re planting in Zone 3 then your last frost date will be between the first of May and the 31st of May.
Make sure that you’re being careful not to plant the seeds too late or too easily either. Don’t leave it too late, as they may not grow. Certain crops will grow better during the cool season, whereas others will grow better in the warm season. Make sure that your soil is well prepared and fertilized too - it’s not just about when to plant your seeds!
Water at the perfect time
You will also need to make sure that you stay on top of your watering. Now, contrary to popular opinion, you do not need to water your plants every single day. In fact, doing so can be quite problematic for certain crops.
The last thing you want is to make your plants dependent on you for water every day because you’ve fed them too much water! You can even get away with watering certain plants once a week.
For instance, you could go for quite some time without watering parsnips and still get decent results. Other plants such as lettuce or celery are going to need a little bit more water.
When watering your plants, make sure that you water them as near to the the roots as you can. You don’t want to wet any leaves if you can avoid it. Try to water at the right time of the day - avoid watering during the middle of the day. It’s better to water in the morning.
The amount that you water the plants is going to depend primarily on not only the plant itself, but also on the soil, the humidity and the rainfall in the area. If you’re getting a lot of rain in your area then there’s absolutely no point in watering your plants twice.
Likewise, if your soil absorbs a lot of water then you may not need to water the plants as often. If, on the other hand, your plants are in a hot and humid area, they may need to be watered more often. Consider all of these things before you water your plants, as they can have a big impact on their development.
Use Mulch To Protect Your Garden
You should also try to use mulch in your garden when you can. Mulch is great for helping to keep any nasty weeds out of your garden.
There are a lot of benefits to using mulch. For starters it can actually help to save some of the water in the soil. It can also prevent weeds from growing and can make the soil healthier. Since the water is saved more easily with mulch it may also mean that you need to water your plants less frequently.
You can usually apply mulches from around the middle of spring to late spring. This is because weeds usually haven’t germinated yet. It’s possible to apply mulch around other plants in the garden, and it can be applied very easily. Just make sure that it’s set up correctly so you can get the results that you are looking for.
Preserving your garden
Preserving your garden is essential for keeping your plants alive! Here are a few ways that you can preserve your garden all year around!
- Put some treatment on the soil. Soil can start to decrease in quality as time goes on, so give it a little bit of TLC every now and again. You should try to get some new soil every now and again from your garden retailer. Mulch and fertilizer can also go a long way - just make sure that you’re using the right products for the things that you’re growing.
- Keep your tools clean. Sure, your tools are going to be going in the dirt, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be maintained well. You don’t want bacteria or dangerous substances to make their way into your garden because you haven’t given your garden tools a proper cleaning. Keep your garden healthy by cleaning your tools.
- Make sure animals can’t get in. Pests such as rabbits and foxes can wreak havoc on your garden if it isn’t protected well. Make sure that you set up a barrier to keep any pests out - wire fencing is handy.
- Maintain your plants. Make sure that you are keeping your plants well maintained - this means pruning, deadheading and culling when the need arises. This helps to keep your plants healthy!
Pull weeds out
Weeds are the bane of every gardener’s existence. It’s important to get them gone as soon as you see them to ensure that they don’t overtake your garden. It’s best to pull your weeds out of the garden when they’re still fairly small as they will have weaker roots.
This means that pulling them out will be a lot easier. It shouldn’t take you more than a few minutes at this point, and it will be even easier if you pull them up after you’ve watered your plants or had a bit of rain.
Of course, nobody likes weeding but it’s very important. You can make it a lot easier by following some guidelines though. First of all, grab the weed directly by the base to avoid the weed snapping in half. You want to make sure that you get the roots out of the ground. Pull it slowly and grab it by the base.
You can also use tools in some situations to remove the weeds. Make sure the tools are durable and solid - some kneeling tools can be handy such as hand hoes, or you coul get standing tools to do the job if you can’t bend down very easily.
To avoid getting weeds in the first place, it can also be handy to get some herbicides, though you should do this with caution. Certain weeds will also be harder to remove than others.
Add some container plants to your garden
Not all plants need to be in a specific flower bed! You can also add some container plants to add some life to your patio. Container plants are usually much smaller, which means that they can be easily accessed and moved from one place to the next. This is ideal if you want to bring the plants inside for certain parts of the year.
Container plants are also less likely to have pest infestation problems. You can get them as hanging baskets, window boxes, grow bags or even upcycled containers such as old baths or sinks.
You can grow a lot of different things in containers, such as potatoes, salad leaves, tomatoes, chard, strawberries, carrot, beetroot and radish. That’s not even an exhaustive list!
If you’re planning on using a container such as a tire or a bath as a container then you may need to put drainage holes into it. You can also help to prevent the plants from becoming waterlogged by putting the containers on top of tiles or bricks.
Now that you’ve got the greenery in your garden all sorted, it’s time to sort out your patio! You can get a range of different kinds of patios depending on the garden. They can be made out of different materials too, such as stone or wood. They’re a good way to add some extra character to your garden, and are the perfect places for seating.
Once you’ve got your patio, make sure that you get it all cleaned up so that it looks amazing in your garden. Get rid of any existing clutter and sweep over the area to clean it up. You can also use a hose to rinse it over, which is a good idea if you haven’t used it in a while. Keep an eye out for weeds too, as they can have a habit of cropping up in your patio slats.
What’s the point in having a garden if people can’t see it? Garden lighting is important not only so that you can garden at night but also for things like house parties where you want to hang out in the garden at night during the warmer months.
It’s not just a matter of lighting the garden though - if you’re going to do it, then you need to do it right. Choose the location based on practicality and on design - are there any areas that you want to draw attention to? Make sure areas with lots of foot traffic are well lit too, such as your garden area and your patio.
There are a few different types of lighting too, such as uplighting, downlighting, fairy lights and floor lights. You should thoroughly assess what sort of look you want to achieve in your garden before you buy.
Your garden is there for you to enjoy, so you need to make sure that you have plenty of furniture to fill it up! Some furniture to consider includes:
- Garden dining sets
- Garden coffee sets
- Kids garden furniture
- Patio chairs
- Garden benches
- Storage for garden furniture
You can get garden furniture in a range of different colors and styles depending on your preferences and storage options, so it’s worth considering what kind of style you would like to go for in advance.
Finally! Your garden is all ready to go. Now, it’s time to enjoy your freshly harvested fruit and vegetables on your lounger on the patio as you watch your hand grown flowers dance in the gentle summer breeze. Hopefully this guide has helped you to create the perfect garden for you.