Gardening and Landscaping for Beginners

When creating a garden or landscaping an area, it’s always best to start small. Once you’re able to develop regular gardening habits, maintaining your own garden becomes easier.
Gardening and Landscaping for Beginners

So you’ve finished designing your interior, and you’re ready to take on your yard. But you don’t know the first thing about gardening, and you can’t tell a rose from a daisy. It’s a common problem among homeowners, but don’t let that keep you from trying. Many people have built their own home gardens from scratch without any professional experience. All it takes is some creativity, and maybe a decent budget.

But that said, it does help to know the basics. Landscaping is a lot easier when you know how it all works and how to avoid the common pitfalls. Once you master the basics, you can easily create your own garden and make the perfect backdrop for your new home. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

Prepare your soil. This is one of the most common gardening mistakes made by beginners. According to gardening expert Mark Cullen, soil quality is responsible for 90% of your gardening success. Each area has a different type of soil. Some of them are great for growing plants, while others can’t even support weeds. Fortunately, you can now buy pre-mixed soil if your area isn’t fertile. Look for triple mix—a mixture of compost, peat moss, and top soil—which is the generally accepted mix in most states. Dig out about 16 inches of soil in your garden area and fill it with the mix.

Start small. Many beginners give up simply because they expect too much from the project. Don’t expect to create a sprawling green courtyard on your first try. Start with a small patch of land (up to 50 square feet is acceptable) and work your way from there. Stick to simple, easy-to-grow plants like java fern and moss, asters, hornwort, zinnias, and geraniums. Just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they can be attractive; it’s all in the combination of plants and the quality of growth they achieve.

Make a compost pile. Compost is a mixture of decomposing organic matter, which includes leaves, manure, rotting bark, and coffee grounds. It is widely used as a fertilizer in gardening, and comes in handy especially in bad weather. You can easily make your own from organic wastes in your own home. Set up a small compost pile in a corner of your garden and thinly spread it over your soil at least once a year. Always have a fresh supply of compost for when your plants need some extra attention.

Keep your soil healthy. Besides regular composting, proper handling and treatment are also vital to maintaining soil quality. Try not to walk on the soil, as this will cause it to compact and prevent roots from growing. If it’s a large bed, create a walking path that gives you access to all areas for watering and maintenance. Also, avoid working with wet or freshly watered soil. This will cause it to harden into large clumps, which will form a powdery mixture when you try to break them up.

Mulch your bed. Mulch is any organic substance spread on top of the soil to seal in moisture and control weed growth. You can use any plant leftover as mulch, such as sawdust, straw, ground bark, or dried leaves. Plastic sheets are often sold commercially for mulching, although it’s best to stick to natural materials. You may need to reapply it once in a while, but take care not to overdo it.

Garden every day. Spend at least 10 minutes a day attending to your garden, pulling out weeds, watering, or sprinkling a bit of fertilizer. Make it a habit—even in rainy weather, grab an umbrella and check on your plants. This greatly reduces your weekend work and helps you form a bond with your plants. It also helps you catch problems early on, instead of being surprised with a massive infestation one day.