Gardening is a great way to beautify your home, lower your grocery budget, and get outside to enjoy beautiful weather. For people unfamiliar with it, gardening might seem intimidating, with terms like “USDA zones,” “mulch,” and “irrigation” being thrown around. Fortunately for beginning gardeners, many plants flourish with minimal care, and gardening is not as challenging as it might seem to be. The bulk of knowledge about gardening comes from experience, but if you can water a plant and tell the difference between a flower and a weed, you can plant a beautiful garden and enjoy yourself doing it.
A general rule for all beginning gardeners is to research the climate that the garden is located in, and the specific patch of land where the garden will grow. Gardeners should take note of how much sunshine the garden is exposed to, what the soil drainage is like, and how the regional weather behaves. This information can be used to select plants which will perform well in the garden, either through careful reading of plant tags or by asking the staff of a local garden shop. Many gardeners like to use the USDA or Sunset gardening zones, which break the United States up into various numbered zones which can be used as guidelines for planting.
Conditioning the soil is important. Beginning gardeners can work compost and manure into the soil to enrich it for growing plants. Some plants also appreciate mulch, which is a fancy name for straw or other organic material placed on the surface of the soil to help plants retain moisture, keep down weeds, and prevent erosion. An irrigation system for beginning gardeners can be as simple as a long hose. Some plants may also require periodic fertilizer, although fertilizer needs vary widely.
Many beginning gardeners like to start with flowers, because they are pleasing to look at and relatively easy to grow. Flowers come in two varieties: annual and perennial. An annual plant blooms once before dying, while a perennial will continue to grow. Both plants can reseed themselves or be grown from seed, and both appreciate deadheading, or removal of flowers which have passed their peak. Deadheading will encourage plants to keep putting out new blooms. Beginning gardeners should also remember that flowers do not like to be drowned in water, and that being slightly stressed often yields better blooms.
Some excellent ornamental plants and flowers for beginning gardeners include black eyed Susans, lamb's ears, blanket flowers, primroses, pansies, forget-me-nots, lavender, marigolds, sweet peas, nasturtiums, and cosmos. Beware: many of these plants will take over if given a chance to, and they can be difficult to eradicate. Many of these flowers grow low to the ground, making them ideal for borders and low flower beds. In some climates, they will be perennial, while in cooler regions, they will die in the winter.
Many edible plants and vegetables are also easy to grow. Zucchini, for example, is notorious for flourishing beyond all expectations. Many beans are also easy for beginning gardeners, as are lettuce, wild strawberries, radishes, potatoes, carrots, spinach, chard, beets, and culinary herbs. Remember to use food safe fertilizers on these plants, to ensure that they will be safe to eat.