As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog, gardening is a skill that is often passed down through the generations from parents and grandparents, but not everyone is so fortunate, leaving many people unsure how to get started or are just too busy to learn from a book.
At Sow Clever, it is our aim to share our knowledge and make it as simple as possible for everyone to enjoy gardening. With this in mind, here are 10 Gardening Tips For Beginners, which will hopefully inspire you to plan ahead, prepare well and get the most out of gardening.
Organise it correctly
Before you plant or grow anything in your garden, you need to assess the dynamics of your space. To fully make the most of your garden you will need to consider: size, shape, soil, spread and sun. Which direction does the sun rise and set? Is the soil better in some areas or are there any shaded areas? Remember some plants are harmful to pets and children so think about your selection before planting.
Start with good soil
Start off on the right foot by investing in soil that is nutrient-rich and well drained. This will ultimately help everything in your garden grow the best it can possibly be. When we moved into our house, the soil was awful. It was full of lumps of grey, greasy clay, which although rich in nutrients, isn’t the easiest to work with, and not all plants can cope with it. We invested in 2 tonnes of topsoil which we dug into the ground (whilst removing broken bricks the builders had just dumped in the garden when they built the house!). Although hard work, it has paid dividends, as our soil is much improved. We also use bark chippings as a dressing for the beds and we have seen the benefit of this breaking down and improving the soil further.
Give your plants enough space to grow
Don’t be tempted to try and fill a flowerbed, because things grow – well that’s the plan anyway. If too close together plants will compete with each another and not all of them will receive the nutrients they need to grow and they will need watering much more frequently. Read the growing instructions (height and spread) and space accordingly. Don’t make it harder for yourself, give them enough space to fully develop and grow. Most plant labels suggest how much room they need so don’t just hazard a guess!
We can’t emphasise this enough! If you’re going to remove plants from their pots by pulling at their stems, then nine times out of ten you’re going to cause some serious damage. Instead, gently squeeze the pots’ sides and turn it upside-down and use your other hand to catch the plant as it slides out.
Don’t just buy everything and then have no idea where you would like to place it, try to have a bigger picture of your garden. Place all of your bulbs and young plants on the soil surface at first and move them around until your happy with the placement. Once you are happy, then you can begin to plant them. If it helps, sketch out the layout with your favourite colouring pencils (or get the kids involved)!
For first-time gardeners it’s incredibly easy to forget what you’ve planted and where. So all we suggest is take that extra minute to write on a plant label and pop it in the ground next to the seed, bulbs or plants you’ve planted.
Plants are designed to live outside and draw in natural moisture to survive. The best way to understand whether or not your plants are receiving enough water; poke your fingers into the soil (about two inches) next to the plant. If it’s dry, add water!
Get the right equipment
Make sure that you invest in some good gardening equipment, a painter and decorator wouldn’t turn up to a job with no paint and brushes! Have everything to hand that you need to make things easier.
Weeds are a gardener’s worst nightmare, so make sure that you weed regularly and make sure that they are all removed from the roots. If there are any seeds that are clinging to the weeds, do not put them in your compost heap, otherwise when you spread the compost, you’re going to be re-spreading the weeds.
You are gardening for a reason, so allow yourself to experiment and enjoy it. You’re not going to be perfect and mistakes will happen. Remember most plants, shrubs and even young trees can be uprooted, repositioned and replanted.
There we have it…
Ten Gardening Tips For Beginners that will help you to create a beautiful garden with sensible choices and clever planting, which will flourish and grow. If you take the time to plan ahead, it will be a joy to watch and you’ll love to be in the garden!
Best Wishes and Happy Growing,
John, Lucy & Isaac