Tips for the budding greenthumb

The fragrance, the beauty, the life… there are many reasons to desire a garden of your own. It’s a rewarding hobby, it requires a bit of physical exercise but the feeling of achievement after nurturing it along is priceless.

Many people have long intended to start a garden, but never saw it though. Perhaps they became intimidated by the concept, afraid that the time and work necessary would be too demanding. Nonsense! All you need to do is jump in. To help you along, let’s address a few fun things…


Since you are thinking seriously about this, you likely have a spot in mind from which to start. Explore it. Make a rough sketch and map out the potential planting area(s). Observe which areas get the most sun, which don‘t, and make a note. Decide what existing features you want to keep. For example, if you have a small old fence that’s too rickety to serve any purpose – toss it! Perform a store-bought test on the surrounding soil to determine if the nutrients and pH levels are adequate.

Planning on growing vegetables? Then you should have the soil tested for lead. The at-home kits aren’t entirely accurate so send your soil sample to the Lead Safe America Foundation for free testing. And don’t worry – even if your soil is unsafe, you may still grow using raised beds or pots of safe soil.

butterfly-in-gardenHop online and search for photos of gardens that inspire you. Perhaps you know of one or two personally and visiting them encourages you to emulate them. Determine a theme, something on which to base ideas for your garden on. You may even name your style. Have fun with it. Perhaps you want to create the garden of “Vintage Green Zen” or “Classic Cottage Conservatory”. Now that you’re in the right mindset, imagine what you’ll enjoy doing in the landscape. If you have children, are you creating a home for which they may frolic? By projecting, you are planting (pun intended) ideas that will help you realize your vision.

Don’t be in a hurry to create a grand garden. It all starts with a tiny seed. Be patient. If you are planning a vegetable garden, instead of biting off more than you can chew out of the gate, start with one raised bed. If it goes well – you had enjoyed yourself and were successful – then feel free to expand. Apply the same principal to purchasing plants. It’s easy to get carried away and want to return with a barrelful, but just buy what you can realistically plant within the next day (two at most).


A successful planting requires planning. If you are still uncertain of what to grow, check out your local nursery and take some pictures of plants that appeal to you. Write down the important info listed on the tags (bloom date, sun/water requirements). Pick those with similar requirements for easy maintenance.

TIP – by strategically choosing plants of consecutive bloom times you may maintain a colorful lush garden all year long!

garden-toolsDo you have the tools you need? Your job will a lot easier with the right ones. Don’t fret, it’s just a few necessary things, really. First, you gotta have gardening gloves. You want to be comfortable and protected from those thorns. Naturally you’ll need a shovel, especially for larger beds and digging holes for trees and shrubs (pointed tip shovels are more versatile than a flat spade). You’ll also need a weeding tool, hand pruner and two rakes – one for spreading mulch, the other for raking leaves.

sunflowerCombine both started plants and seeds for an affordable mix. Easy seed starters include lettuce, radishes, beans, sunflowers and marigolds. These tend to grow with little fuss. Most importantly, grow what you like. If you hate squash, why grow it? Don’t.

A search online will likely reveal a number of gardening clubs in your area. Reach out to them. And swing by your local plant nurseries, community and botanical gardens to sign up for gardening workshops. What a great way to learn more about gardening and meet new people who share your passion!


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