Gardening season is almost upon us. If this is the first time you’re participating in this seasonal pastime, there are plenty of things you need to know before you get started. Whether you’re trying to grow your own fruits and veggies or add some colour and curb appeal to your home, these simple gardening tips for beginners can help:
Basic Gardening Tips
- Study the sunny and shady areas of your yard. The sun will hit different areas of your yard at different times throughout the day. When deciding where to put your garden plot, it’s important to know if the area is “full sun,” “full shade,” or a combination of both, because this can help you determine which plants to place in that area.
- Choose the right plants for your space. Many plants, including fruits and vegetables, need six hours of sun a day to thrive, while others are better suited to areas with limited light. If your garden will get lots of sunlight, consider perennial plants — plants that return every year — like dahlias, peonies, chrysanthemums, and lavender. If your garden will sit in the shade, consider plants like hostas, ferns, and hydrangeas.
- Test your soil before you start digging. The nutrients in your soil play a critical role in determining whether your garden succeeds. Test your soil’s pH or acidity level and its phosphorus and potassium levels using a soil testing kit from a local garden centre or nursery. Your soil’s pH level should ideally be between 6.0 and 7.0, while its phosphorus and potassium levels should be high, as most plants require a lot of these two nutrients.
- Make sure you’ve got the right gardening tools for the job. While you’re at the garden centre picking up a soil kit or selecting your plants, be sure to stop in the tool aisle. A basic gardening toolkit should include a trowel, a transplanter with measuring marks, a cultivator, pruning shears, and a pair of durable gloves to protect your hands from thorns. If you’re missing any of these items, add them to your cart.
- Figure out the average frost dates for your area. Starting a garden before the last frost of the season is a mistake many new gardeners make. To start the season off on the right foot, especially if you’re growing frost-sensitive plants, figure out the average final frost date for your area and avoid planting anything before then.
- Add mulch to the base of each plant. To prevent weeds and moisture loss, consider adding two to three inches of mulch around the base of each plant. Or, instead of using mulch, you can compost kitchen and garden waste by letting it break down for a year, then add it to your garden next season to add extra nutrients to the soil.
- Remember to water and fertilize your plants regularly. Throughout spring and summer, watering and fertilizing your garden should become a regular part of your routine. At least once a week, depending on how much rain your area receives, head out to your garden to water your plants, making sure to soak the plant root, not just the leaves. Once every two weeks, fertilize your garden with an organic, water-soluble plant food, and your garden will be growing in no time.
These are just a few tips you can consider when starting a garden. If you’re looking for more specific advice or plant recommendations, consider seeking professional advice from a local nursery or landscaping company.