So you finally moved in to your new home. You’ve got all the new furniture you need, carpeting, entertainment system, appliances, and all. But you feel like there is still something missing, right? You go outside and figure out your yard is empty and you just can’t wait doing the gardening yourself. The problem is you’re a beginner, which means you haven’t actually tried doing it before. But worry not, we’re here to help you out.
You see, there’s no truth to the notion that those who don’t have a green thumb will never succeed in growing plants in the garden. There’s no basis for that. All you have to do is be committed to it and love gardening in general. You can’t just have interest in it today and up to the next day and then forget it about it the week after.
In an article by Sarah Yang called “9 Gardening Tips for Beginners” for RealSimple.com, the key to a successful gardening project is learning what sort of plants will ideally grow in your region and the type of soil you have.
Know Your Region
It may sound obvious, but not everything grows everywhere, so what you plant is determined by where you live. “Take a look at the characteristics of your garden area—from the climate to sun exposure,” says Brian Sullivan, Vice President for Gardens, Landscape, and Outdoor Collections at The New York Botanical Garden. “It’s the most important thing to start with because you’ll want to understand the limits and the possibilities.” Talk to someone who works at your local garden center about the best native plants for your region, says Chris Lambton, professional landscaper and host of DIY Network’s Yard Crashers. “These will perform the best with less maintenance.”
Test Your Soil
To get a thorough reading of your soil’s pH and nutrient levels, send a sample to your local nursery or cooperative extension, suggests garden expert Christy Dailey of christy gardens. (There are also at-home testing kits available at Lowes, Home Depot, or any gardening store.) The results will tell you how acidic or alkaline your soil is, which affects how plants absorb nutrients. Since different plants thrive best in different pH levels, this test will help you decide what to plant or indicate how you should treat the soil.
Examine soil texture, too. “It should be easily shoveled and crumble in your hands,” says Annette Gutierrez, owner of Potted in Los Angeles. “If your soil is super hard or clay-like, it will be difficult for most plants to grow roots. Add fresh soil, mulch, and compost, being careful to aerate as much and as deep an area as you can before planting.”
Want more? Read the rest of her article by clicking this link.
It is likewise as important to start with those plants that have a greater chance of growing. Yes, we get it, you’re very excited to see them plants and flowers beautifying your home, but every long journey starts with a single step. Take it one plant at a time. Keep in mind that in essence, you’re actually kind of experimenting since it is your first time. So keep the risks of failure to a minimum.
Meanwhile, Better Homes and Gardens also have some very helpful tips to add, particularly dealing with creating an ideal area to where the garden will be placed.
1. Get an idea. Is this going to be a vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? If you choose to grow flowers, do you want annuals, which you must replant each year but which give color most of the summer? Or do you prefer perennials, which have a shorter bloom time but come back year after year? You can mix any of the above — after all, it’s your garden. Just one bit of advice: Start small. ‘Tis better to succeed just a little, than to fail grandly.
2. Pick a place. Almost all vegetables and most flowers need about six hours of full sun each day. Spend a day in your chosen spot and watch how the sun moves across the space. It might receive more sun than you think. But don’t despair if your lot is largely sunless; many plants tolerate shade. Check plant tags or ask the staff at your local garden center to find out how much sun a plant requires.
Put the garden where you can’t ignore its pleas for attention — outside the back door, near the mailbox, by the window you stare out when you dry your hair. Place it close enough to a water spigot that you won’t have to drag the hose to the hinterlands.
3. Clear the ground. Get rid of the sod covering the area you plan to plant. If you want quick results, you can dig it out, but it’s easier to smother it with newspaper. A layer of five sheets is usually thick enough; double that if your lawn is Bermudagrass or St. Augustine grass. Spread a 3-inch layer of compost (or combination of potting soil and topsoil) on the newspaper and wait. It’ll take about four months for the compost and paper to decompose.
If you don’t want to wait or if the area is covered with weeds such as creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea), you’re better off digging the sod out.
4. Improve the soil. Invariably, soil needs a boost. The solution is simple: organic matter. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure. If you dig soil (see Step 5), till the organic matter into the soil. If you decide not to dig or are working with an established bed you can’t dig, leave the organic matter on the surface and it will work its way into the soil in a few months.
To learn more about your soil, have a soil test done through your county cooperative extension office. They’ll lead you through the procedure: how much soil to send from which parts of the garden, and the best time to obtain samples. Expect a two-week wait for their findings, which will tell you what your soil lacks and how to amend it.
See more of this article here.
Now let’s dig in deeper on the project of improving the soil. This is particularly important because not all soil types are ideal for plants to grow on. As a matter of fact, creating a good growing soil is something you no longer can ignore if you want your garden to be successful. See this video from Expert Village:
Once you start the real gardening tasks, we recommend that you keep a journal with you. The purpose of this journal is to keep you on track of your progress and understand where you’re going. One of the key elements of success in gardening is being organized with it. A lot of homeowners make the mistake of not keeping a journal and eventually end up losing interest in the garden. Don’t be like that. Once you start building a garden, it has to be maintained and taken care of. Plants have life, you know that.