Backyard Gardening: a Beginner’s Guide

A big mistake for first-time gardeners is starting too large. The allure of growing bountiful crops and beautiful blooms causes beginners to make lofty garden plans that end up being too much to maintain. The best advice is to start small and add to your garden as your confidence builds.

Raised Beds – A Perfect Solution for Beginners

For the novice gardener, installing a raised bed in which to plant vegetables or flowers is a much easier approach than tilling the ground. Any bottomless box will suffice for a raised bed. You can obtain ready-made raised beds from stores that specialize in gardening supplies or internet sources. If you are handy, you can save money by building one yourself, just be sure to build your garden box from untreated lumber. Treated lumber can leach unwanted chemicals into the soil.

A four by four foot box is a good size for beginning gardeners. The depth of your box should be at least eight inches. The size of the garden box should be large enough to allow plants to grow, but small enough to maintain properly. If weeding and watering chores become too demanding, you might be tempted to give up gardening altogether. As you gain confidence and skill, you may want to add additional garden boxes.

Adding Soil to Your Raised Bed

A great garden starts with good soil. If the soil in your area is not rich in organic matter, it is advisable to buy good soil from a home improvement center. Buying bagged soil that is formulated for growing vegetables is a small investment that will yield bountiful benefits at harvest time.

Adding Plants to Your Garden

Many seasoned gardeners start their seeds indoors or in cold frames, then transplant to the garden. Beginners, however, should purchase already started plants from a home improvement center until they can become more familiar with seed starting techniques. The staff at home improvement centers are also knowledgeable about what to plant at what times for your area. Remember to purchase and grow only vegetables that your family will eat.

Maintaining Your Garden

Weeding, watering, mulching and pest control are the biggest parts of maintaining a garden space. Watering deeply and regularly in the early morning hours is best for root health and stability of the plants. Keep your garden space as weed-free as possible by hand picking weeds. Spreading a layer of organic mulch, such as dried grass clippings or pine straw, will make weed control easier, as well as helping your plants retain moisture. In a small garden, pest control is best accomplished by inspecting plants regularly and hand-picking bugs off of plants. You can also use organic pesticide which is readily available at most home improvement centers.

Starting small and keeping it simple is the key to a fun and rewarding gardening experience.