by Harry Cline
Are you a new gardener eager to test out your green thumb? Whether you’re planting a pandemic victory garden, looking for a new hobby, or a homeowner investing in curb appeal, it’s always a good time to become a gardener. However, if it’s your first time, you might not be quite sure where to start. While gardening can seem tricky at first, it’s loaded with health perks, and it’s easy to get your garden growing when you follow these steps, presented by The Mama Bear Team.
Choose your garden site
Site selection is the most important part of garden planning. Where you place your garden influences both how it looks aesthetically and how well it grows. The best garden sites receive at least six hours of full sunlight, have access to water, and have fertile, well-draining soil. For first-time gardeners, it’s well worth the cost to hire a landscaping professional to assist with site selection and planning. A pro can help you choose the best location for your garden as well as recommend plants tailored to your climate and commitment level.
Keep in mind that gardening is an opportunity to exercise, so you can consider it part of your workout routine. You reap other benefits as well, such as absorbing vitamin D, spending time surrounded by green space, and the opportunity to breathe in fresh air.
However, if there are any serious problems with your lawn, it’s probably best to rely on the pros. For instance, if there’s a tree in your yard that you’d like to remove to make space for your garden, call in tree removal experts to tackle this big job for you.
Decide if you’ll grow edibles or ornamentals
Gardeners starting a victory garden in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are overwhelmingly growing annual crops, but you may choose different plants for your garden depending on your goals.
If you want to beautify your home, perennial ornamental plants like bulbs, trees, and shrubs are the best place to start. New gardeners should look for easy-care plants that thrive with minimal maintenance. Meanwhile, gardeners of edibles will want to buy vegetable, herb, and berry seeds or transplants. Plus, they can enjoy food that is more nutritious than store-bought counterparts.
Of course, as Permaculture News notes, there are plenty of plants that blur the boundaries between edible and ornamental. Fruit trees, grape vines, artichokes, and peppers are just a few plants that are both delicious and a lovely addition to the home landscape.
Choose between raised bed and in-ground gardening
Next, decide if you’ll grow directly in the ground or in raised beds. Removing grass and growing a garden right in your lawn is a quick way to start a vegetable garden or plant flower beds around a house. However, if your yard has poor soil or you want to keep your garden contained, Gardenista recommends building raised beds and filling them with high-quality garden soil.
Set up irrigation
You’ll also need a way to keep your garden watered. Drip irrigation is the preferred method for watering gardens because it conserves water and is easy to hide in ornamental garden beds. Drip irrigation is also surprisingly simple to install. While complex landscape irrigation systems call for professional help, homeowners can install a simple drip irrigation system that connects to a spigot.
Your garden’s water needs depend on your climate and what you’re growing. In general, plants need more water when they’re young and newly seeded or transplanted and less water as they become established. The best time to water is in the early morning or evening to minimize water loss due to evaporation. Instead of watering frequently, water deeply and let soil dry out slightly between waterings.
Keep weeds under wraps
With sun, soil, and water, it won’t be long until your garden is looking great. However, gardens still need maintenance once they’re planted. Weeds compete with garden plants for nutrients and sunlight, making it harder to grow healthy plants. Get to know common garden weeds so you can get rid of them while they’re young. When you eliminate weeds early with hand-pulling and weeding tools, you can avoid harsh herbicides in your garden.
Control pests naturally
Weeds aren’t the only thing threatening your garden’s health. Insects can also wreak havoc on gardens. Unfortunately, many of the pesticides designed to target garden pests also harm beneficial insects like bees. Instead of using chemical pesticides as a first resort, use natural pest control methods like crop rotation, companion planting, and interplanting. Gardeners should also aim to create an environment that supports beneficial insects, many of which prey on common pests like aphids.
The most important gardening tip? Don’t give up! Gardening takes trial and error, and your first attempt may have more failures than successes. But with practice and fine-tuning, you can create a garden that matches your climate and your style.
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