If you have never grown anything before it is a good idea to get a gardening book that gives you easy step-by-step guides. The RHS has one called Gardening through the Year – there’s a chapter for each month and it is packed with helpful advice.
It’s also worth getting a soil test done, because plants grow best in nutrient-packed soil. If your garden has a lot of clay you might want to consider a no-dig approach, such as that advocated by Kate Russel.
Whether you are looking to grow your own food, flowers or simply want to create a beautiful outside space it is worth taking the time to plan what you will do. You don’t want to get carried away at the garden centre buying things that will either be too big for your space or struggle to grow in the climate conditions of your area. A good starting point is to work out what you want the main use of your back garden to be, then plan around that.
For example if you want to be able to sit and relax in your garden then make sure there is plenty of seating and that it is located close to the house. If you are going to be growing veg then ensure you have a veg patch or veg containers that are situated in a sunny spot with easy access to the kitchen. It is also worth considering that you may not have a lot of time to spend in the garden. If this is the case then it is worth considering hiring a professional garden designer, they can help to prioritise your needs and suggest solutions.
As with anything in life gardens don’t always go exactly how you want them to but it is important to be able to recognise the problem areas and try to solve them. Some of the most common problems include drainage issues, weeds that keep appearing, plants that need cutting all the time, too many thorny bushes near the front door and having nowhere to put the bins!
These sorts of problems can all be solved with careful planning and a little patience. If you have a lot of weeds, for instance, then it is worth thinking about using a weed killer that will be safe to use in the garden or you could dig out as much as you can and start again. Another option is to use a mulch such as bark or woodchips to cover the soil. This will help to deter weeds and it looks much neater than grass, plus it is easier to maintain.
Soil is one of our most important natural resources. It is a living, complex mixture of minerals, dead and living organisms, air and water that interact in amazing ways to support life on our planet. It is a highly dynamic substance that changes dramatically with location and season.
When starting out, it is a good idea to find out what type of soil your garden has, and then learn how to prepare the best planting bed for your new plants. It will help you to choose the right plants and flowers for your gardening style, as well as ensuring that your garden has a balance of colour, texture, form and function.
The perfect soil is loam, which means it drains well, yet is able to hold moisture and air in the roots. It is also nutrient rich and easily aerated, meaning that when you squeeze the soil in your hand it crumbles and does not form a hard ball. This soil type is ideal for growing vegetables, flowers and herbs, but it can be difficult to find in rural areas.
To make sure that the garden is as healthy as possible, it is essential to mulch and weed regularly. This helps to ensure that the plants have an even supply of nutrients, and it will keep the weeds down. It is also a good idea to water the plants daily, especially when they are young, as this will help them to grow strong and establish deep root systems. However, be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the soil to become too saturated and this will also restrict the plant’s growth.
It is also a good idea to cover strawberries and fruit bushes with netting, to prevent damage from birds. Alternatively, you can try encouraging hedgehogs and frogs into your garden as these prey on slugs and snails. Finally, it is a good idea to cut the grass weekly as long grass can take up more nutrients than it uses. This is also a great way to reduce weeds as they tend to grow faster in longer grass.
Gardening for beginners can be daunting – the old saying “if at first you don’t succeed try again” applies as it can take time and patience to learn the ropes. But gardening can be rewarding too and is a great way to relax. It can also help you save money and get value for your home grown produce.
Depending on the type of garden you are starting, it’s worth researching plants and checking they will grow well in your soil. Some plants are very picky about the type of soil they grow in and can struggle if not planted in the right place. You can start your garden from scratch by planting seeds or buy young plants (often called set plants) from a nursery. When you are deciding which to buy, look for those with clear growing instructions and try to get a feel for the plants before you purchase them. If you are buying set plants, they may be in a container and their roots may have grown into a ball – check that the roots are separated before setting them into your garden.
If you are planting vegetables, it’s a good idea to mix in flowers which will help to repel pests and attract pollinators. This will also make the garden more visually appealing.
You will need to water your garden regularly. Different plants require different amounts of water and can be affected by weather conditions. It is worth planning a watering schedule and sticking to it. Young plants will need watering daily, whereas established plants will only need to be watered occasionally.
Once you have a garden established, there are plenty of things you can do to make it even easier to maintain. Protect plants from slugs and snails by using slug pellets or course grit and encourage birds, hedgehogs and frogs to your garden by providing a source of food. Cover strawberries and fruit bushes with netting to prevent birds eating the fruit and cut the grass weekly as long grass uses up nutrients from your garden.
To reduce the amount of time you spend mowing the lawn, opt for low maintenance paving or gravel areas or install a small lawnmower. You can also plant borders with shrubs and perennials that don’t need much attention e.g. evergreen hebe, lavender and a variety of other hardy flowers.
Gardening can be a fun and rewarding hobby, and with some simple planning and patience even the complete beginner gardener can achieve flourishing gardens. If you have just moved into a new home with a garden or you have decided to start from scratch, it may feel like a daunting task. Whether you are looking to grow a sea of colourful flowers, a tasty herb garden for the budding chef or a nutritious vegetable patch, figuring out soil types, planting the right seeds and plants, watering and maintaining a hedge or lawn can all seem very complicated, especially when you are just starting out.
Getting a little help in the form of a good gardening for beginners guide can make all the difference and there are plenty of options to choose from. Choosing a book which specialises in the kind of gardening you are interested in can be helpful too. For example, if you want to grow herbs, look for a herb gardening guide rather than one that covers flower growing. There are also specific books about different kinds of vegetables, including vegan or organic veg and it’s worth remembering that most veggies thrive in sunny spots and require a bit of time to grow.
Another useful tool is a garden calendar, which shows you when it is best to sow and plant seeds and seedlings. This is a handy way to keep track of what you need to do each month and can be a great encouragement when you are just starting out. It can be easy to forget that a plant needs water, and it is also important to remember that plants at different stages of growth need different amounts of moisture. For example, a newly planted tomato will need to be watered daily, but a well established plant can get by with occasional irrigation.
Lastly, be sure to take some time out from your gardening to enjoy what you have created. Whether you have a veg patch, flower beds or a beautiful green space you can relax in, it is always lovely to sit back and admire your work.