How Do I Start a Garden?

Sheri Cyprus

To start a garden, decide whether you'd like to grow vegetables or flowers or both. Then look at all of the options available for your climate and soil type. You should also consider how much sun and shade your yard or patio receives for the best growing results. Making a plan and allowing enough time for soil preparation then buying plants can help keep you organized when you start a garden.

A wall fountain in a garden.
A wall fountain in a garden.

While your plan for your garden needn't be elaborate, you should at least make a rough sketch of how you want it to look. Understanding your expectations can also make choosing plants easier. Be sure that your soil contains adequate amounts of silt, clay and sand to support the growth of the plants you choose. The soil should also be fertilized with animal or mushroom manure and any large rocks should be removed from the garden site, so be sure to allow a few days for preparation. Before doing any digging to start a garden, check with your utility company or municipality for safety reasons so there will be no danger of disrupting any utility lines.

Gardening tools and potted plants.
Gardening tools and potted plants.

Getting advice from experts at your local nursery on the best plant varieties to select can be a great idea. You could also consult gardening books, magazines or articles written on plants for your geographic area. Make sure that the flowers and or vegetable plants you choose are compatible as sometimes the roots of one plant may choke others in the same garden plot. Look for varieties that don't compete with nearby plants for the nutrients in the soil. It's a good idea to keep a record of what you plant where as you start a garden.

Cucumbers growing on the vine.
Cucumbers growing on the vine.

Pick only the healthiest plants. Do some research whether certain flowers or vegetables are likely to thrive best if you start them from a plant or from seeds. As some plants require much more care, such as daily watering and frequent pruning, than others, don't forget to consider the maintenance level you're the most comfortable with.

Amend clay-like soil to provide a healthy growing medium.
Amend clay-like soil to provide a healthy growing medium.

If you hope to include accessories such as a fountain, bench or pathway in your garden, add these ideas to your sketch of the layout of your plants. If you would like to have at least some vegetables or flowers growing in containers on your deck or balcony, research the best varieties ahead of time. To plant a garden with an ongoing theme or color scheme, make your choices carefully.

First time gardeners might enjoy growing flowers in containers.
First time gardeners might enjoy growing flowers in containers.

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