Gardening 101 - Basics

Dated: 09/05/2018

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Having a yard for the first time can be really exciting, but if you have never cared for a garden and lawn before, you probably don’t know where to begin. The most important thing is not to rush anything. Take a deep breath to discover what do you want to do with the outdoor space you have, examine what you can do, and learn how you can accomplish it. Don’t worry, you are not in this green mess alone, we will help you. Read these gardening tips for beginners to find out how to make your new neighbors green with envy when they see your lush backyard.

First, consider hardscaping

We often get too carried away by the plants to plant when we are designing our garden that we forget the other parts of the backyard which can make a huge difference. Some of the things that should be a part of your plan are the pathways, a shed to store your tools, a deck or patio, outdoor furniture, and an installation that will provide shade above the seating arrangement. With the latter one, you can choose between pergolas, shade sails, and customizable carports that can fit into any yard size and shape.

outdoor furniture


Test the soil

Not every plant will thrive in every soil. Before you decide about the type of grass, flowers, herbs, and vegetables you are going to grow, you need to examine the soil’s pH and nutrient levels. You can send a sample to your local laboratory or buy an examination kit at a gardening store. The results will show you the acidity or the alkalinity of the soil, which affects how plants absorb nutrients.

soil test kit


Examine the texture too by taking a bit of soil in your hands. It should crumble in your hands and be shoveled easily. When the soil is very hard you will need to add mulch, compost, and fresh soil.

soil testing

Go easy and local

The best way to know some plants will succeed in your garden is to plant the ones that are native to your region because they are already accustomed to the soil and the climate. This way, you will minimize the need for using herbicides and pesticides, as well. There are some plants that almost ensure success, which can be quite encouraging for beginners. Those are most of the vegetables and sunflowers.

vegetable garden


Plan a layout

An inexperienced gardener could easily create a crowd in the garden by planting some kinds too close to one another. To avoid that mistake, you need to know how high and wide your plants will grow (both above and below the ground). Shorter plants and creepers should be planted toward the edges and the front of the garden bed, and the taller ones should be in the back. Keep in mind that taller plants could block the sun exposure for the smaller ones or the varieties that prefer a lot of sun. Also, plants that live for more than two years should be about 18 inches apart.


Keep a notebook or a calendar

Keeping track of the garden activity is imperative because it helps you remember when to water the plants and when to fertilize them, and write down new ideas for your project. It will also be easier to track the development of each plant because they require different maintenance.

Water with care

Garden watering should be consistent and generous (depending on the type of the plant). When you do your research about the veggies, herbs, shrubs, and flowers you are planting, you will know when they require watering and how much. The freshly planted ones, in general, should be watered more frequently, until their root system is completely evolved. The water should always penetrate the soil, instead of floating on the surface. Your garden should never be watered in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest point, nor in the evening when the plants can develop fungus. The best time of the day for watering is early morning.

garden watering (1)


Finally, try to be patient. Growing and maintaining a garden is a process. It can’t be done in one day and it requires a lot of time and effort. Don’t let your impatience cause you to use too much compost or overwater the plants, because this can be counterproductive. If you are willing to wait, the results might impress you.

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Susy Thomas

Susy grew up in Detroit, graduated from Michigan State University. She has lived in San Diego for over 35 years. While working as a purchasing manager in the restaurant business she was offered the o....

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