How to Start a Garden: 10 Easy Steps for Beginners

10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden from scratch as a beginner can seem daunting. One of the best ways to ease into gardening is to break your project down into manageable steps. Whether you want to start a vegetable garden or a flower garden, or maybe even both, this step-by-step guide will soon have you enjoying delicious flavors and colorful blooms that you grew yourself.

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1. Consider What to Plant

Do you want to plant a vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? If you choose vegetables and herbs for their contributions to your dinner table, plant ones your family will eat or be willing to try. If you want flowers for their color and fragrance, decide whether you want annuals that bloom most of the summer but need to be replanted each spring or perennials that have a shorter bloom time but return year after year. Each one, or even a combination, makes a stunning garden but will have different maintenance requirements. 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden

2. Pick the Best Garden Spot

Almost all vegetables and many types of flowering plants need 6-8 hours of full sun each day. So you need to observe your yard 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden throughout the day to figure out which spots receive full sun versus partial or full shade. Don’t worry if your yard is mostly shady: You won’t be able to grow tomatoes in shade, but many other plants (such as hostas and outdoor ferns) will do just fine. Check plant tags or ask the staff at your local garden center to help you understand how much sun a plant needs.

If possible, pick a relatively flat spot for your garden because it’s more difficult, time-consuming, and potentially expensive to deal with a sloping garden. And make sure your new garden will have easy access to a water source.

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3. Clear the Ground

Get rid of weeds and sod in the area 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden you plan to plant. If you want quick results—for example, if it’s already spring and you want veggies this summer—cut it out. Slice under the sod with a spade. Cut the sod into sections to make it easier to 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden.

For a longer term project, it’s easier to use the lasagna gardening method: Cover your future garden with five sheets of newspaper; double that amount if your lawn is Bermuda grass or St. Augustine grass. Spread a 3-inch layer of compost (or a combination of potting soil and topsoil) on the newspaper. Water everything and wait. It’ll take about four months for the compost and paper to decompose. But if you start in the fall, by spring you’ll have a bed ready to plant with no grass or weeds and plenty of rich soil.

4. Test and Improve Your Soil

To learn more about 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden your soil, have a soil test done through your 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 the findings, which will tell you what your soil lacks and how to amend it. You can also use a DIY kit that may not be as detailed, but will give you an idea of your soil’s nutrient levels.

Residential soil almost always needs a boost, especially in new construction where the topsoil may have been stripped away. In addition to being low in essential plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, your soil 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden may also have poor drainage or be compacted. The solution is usually simple: add plenty of organic matter.

Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost to the soil when you dig or till a new bed. If you decide not to dig or are working with an established bed, leave the organic matter on the surface, where it will eventually turn into humus (organic material). Earthworms will do most of the work of mixing humus in with the subsoil.

5. Prepare Your Planting Beds

Loosening the soil in new beds before sowing or planting helps new roots grow more easily and access the water and nutrients they need. There are two methods: tilling with a mechanical device such as a rototiller, or digging by hand. 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden The first one is a good method when you need to mix in large amounts of amendments. However, it’s easy to overdo it, which will end up damaging the soil structure. Digging is more practical for preparing small beds.

Either way, work the soil only when it’s moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist but dry enough to fall apart when you drop it. Digging when the soil is too dry is harder work, and you can damage the soil structure if it’s too wet. 10-easy-steps-to-start-a-garden Use a spade or spading fork to gently turn the top 6–8 inches of soil, mixing in the organic matter from Step 4 at the same time. Walking on prepared beds compacts the soil, so lay down plywood boards temporarily to evenly distribute your weight.

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6. Pick Your Plants

Some people pore over catalogs for months; others head to the garden center and grab whatever catches their eye. Either way, the most important thing is to choose plants adapted to your climate, soil, and sunlight. Here are a few easy-to-grow plants for beginners:

7. Start Planting

8. Water at the Right Time

8. Water at the Right Time

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