How to Start a Garden You’ll Love – Follow These 15 Easy Steps

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How To Start a Garden
How to start a garden from scratch

So, you’re wondering how to start a garden but don’t know where to begin?  No worries… We’ve all been there.

Our team of experienced gardeners has put together 15 easy-to-follow steps, to help you set up and start your garden, in no time.

Here’s a quick preview:

1. Start Small, Start Simple
2. The Best Place to Start a Garden
3. Do You Have Enough Sunlight?
4. The Type of Plants To Grow
5. Get The Right Gardening Tools and Equipment
6. Plan Your Garden
7. Start Seeding Indoors
8. Start Preparing The Garden Area
9. Get The Right Soil For Your Garden
10. It’s Time To Plant
11. Water Your Garden Sufficiently and Regularly
12. Test Soil and Fertilize
13. Keep Weeds Out
14. Keep An Eye Out For Pests and Diseases
15. Finally – It’s Harvest Time!

At the end of each step, we provide practical recommendations that you can implement to get your garden up and growing… We’ve got you covered from start to finish.

It’s over to you. Follow these 15 easy steps that will take you from “how to start a garden?😏” to “I’m so proud of my garden!😃”. 


1. Start Small, Start Simple

Start a Small Garden
New to gardening? Start small and simple… Learn the basics first!

Gardening covers a diversity of techniques, styles and methods.  It includes traditional gardening, container gardening, raised beds, hydroponics, vertical gardening… and the list goes on and on.

With so many options to choose from, you can easily be tempted to bite off more than you can chew.  In the early stages, gardening requires a fair amount of time, attention and patience.  So take time to learn the basics and make allowances for unforeseen setbacks.

Recommendation: If you’re brand new to gardening, start with a relatively small garden.  Learn the basics well.  As your confidence and competence begin to grow, you can expand and explore different gardening options.  

2. The Best Place to Start a Garden

Best Place To Start A Garden
The best place to start a garden could be just behind your house.

This depends on your location and available space.

If, for example, you live in the middle of a city with no backyard and a small patio, perhaps indoor gardening might be a good option.  Or you can start with a few containers on your patio.

But if you have some uncovered space in your backyard (or front yard), then that’s probably the best place to start your garden.

Recommendation:  Choose the best, unshaded space outside to start your garden.  If you have little or no space outside, consider container gardening or indoor gardening, as alternatives.

3. Do You Have Enough Sunlight?

Plants Need Enough Sunlight
Most plants require 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

Some plants require a lot of sunlight while others don’t need as much. Keep this in mind as you decide where to place your garden and what kind of plants to grow. [1]

Most plants need an average of 6 – 8 hours of sunlight per day.  The amount of available sunlight is limited by the climate, the seasons and shade from structures and trees.  If you live in a tropical climate then there is abundant sunshine. But if you live in a temperate climate, sunlight might be very limited during certain times of the year.

Recommendation: Plan to start your garden when adequate sunlight is available.  Choose an area that is not heavily shaded. 

(If you’re considering indoor gardening, you may need to invest in artificial lighting.)

4. The Type of Plants To Grow

Type of plants to grow in your garden
Check your market shopping list for ideas of the type of plants to grow in your garden.

The variety of plants is almost endless.  You have lots of options.

You could start by answering the following questions:

  • What is your main purpose for starting a garden?  Some common reasons include self-sufficiency, income generation, hobby, or landscaping.  There are no right or wrong answers…  It’s personal. 
  • How much time can you dedicate to the garden?
  • How much space do you have?
  • Which type of plants grows best in your climate?
  • Will they get enough sunlight?

The answers to these questions can help to guide your choice of plants to grow in your garden.

Recommendation: If you are still not sure which plants to grow, here’s a suggestion.  Look at your monthly food bill.  Identify the vegetables, fruits, ground provision, etc. that you buy often.  Pick 1 or 2 that you can plant (keeping the questions above in mind). We have a great article on vegetable gardening. Check it out, if you choose to grow vegetables.

5. Get The Right Gardening Tools and Equipment

Gardening Tools and Equipment
Get the most suitable tools and equipment for your garden.

Every gardener needs some basic tools to get the job done.  The gardening tools you need will depend on the type and size of the garden you decide to start with.

If you decide to start with container gardening you will need to get the containers (plant pots), a pair of gloves, soil scoop, a garden hand fork, a garden trowel and a watering can.

For raised beds, you’ll need materials to construct/ assemble the beds, liner,  garden fork, garden hand trowel, garden spade/ shovel, garden rake, garden hoe and garden hose.

If you want to start with traditional gardening, you’ll need heavier tools to clear the land and till the soil.  In addition to most of the tools needed for a raised bed garden, you may also need a weed trimmer, tiller and an irrigation system.

Recommendation: Make a list of the basic tools you’ll need to start your garden and get them.

6. Plan Your Garden

Garden Plan
A garden plan helps you to visualize and properly structure your garden.

Okay, so you have an idea of the size and type of your garden that you are starting.  You decided on the location, the type of plants you will grow and the tools you’ll need. Great!

But before you spring into action to get your garden started, take some time to plan.

Planning helps you to visualize and better organize your garden.  It also helps you to prepare properly so that your garden looks beautiful and is functional.

Recommendation:  

  1. Make a sketch of the garden you plan to create.
  2. Also, make notes of the type of plants you will start with, the tools you’ll need and any other relevant details.  Update this list as often as necessary.
  3. If you can, invest in a garden planner app or software to make planning easier and faster

7. Start Seeding Indoors

Seeding Indoors
Seeding indoors during winter helps you to maximize the gardening seasons.

If you live in a tropical climate or a climate where there is lots of sunshine throughout the year, you can plant pretty much at any time of the year.   But if you live in a temperate climate where there is limited sunlight and cold winter seasons,  you could start growing seedlings indoors (during winter).  

By the time Spring comes around, your plants would have already germinated and will be ready for transplanting to your garden outside.  This will give you a headstart and help you to make the most of the climatic conditions.

Recommendation: Purchase the packets of seeds of the plants that you want to start growing in your garden.  If you live in a temperate climate, start seeding indoors during winter.  After winter, you’ll have young plants ready to be transplanted to your garden.

Read the instructions/ information on the packets.  They provide helpful planting tips and will let you know the timeframe between planting and harvesting.  Use this information to estimate when to start seeding.

If you’re not up to seeding, you can simply plant the seeds directly into the soil.  Or purchase seedlings (young plants) from your local garden shop, when you’re ready to start planting.

8. Start Preparing The Garden Area

Garden preparation
Take time to prepare the garden area well.

Once you’re ready to start your outdoor garden, you’ll need to prepare the land area.

You will need to clear the land of grass or other shrubs and cut away any trees or branches that might be blocking sunlight from the area. You may also need to construct a perimeter fence to keep out animals (and humans). 

For traditional gardening, you may need to water the ground (if it’s hard) then till the soil.  For raised beds, you’ll have to construct or assemble the beds and place them in the designated areas.  You can check out our “Top 25 Raised Garden Bed Plans” for great design ideas for your raised beds garden.

Recommendations

  1. If you’re starting an outdoor garden and the area is overgrown or otherwise cluttered, it’s time to start clearing and cleaning the area;  
  2. Mark out the spots you’ll be using to grow your plants or place your raised beds;
  3. Till the soil, if starting a traditional garden; 
  4. If necessary, secure the area with a fence to keep out animals (and some humans).

9. Get The Right Soil For Your Garden

Garden Soil
Get the best soil for your garden.

Soil helps to keep plants stable and is the reservoir from which they draw their nutrients and moisture. It’s important that the soil you use has the right texture and nutrients.

To keep it simple, we’ll avoid the technicalities of soils, for now.  If you’re relatively new to gardening, you could start by purchasing a soil mix that’s suitable for your garden.

Recommendations: If you’re starting a container garden, get some potting mix soil.  Generally, these tend to already contain the right mix of soil components for container gardening.  

If you’re starting your garden in the backyard or on a parcel of land somewhere else, you’ll need some nice garden soil or raised bed soil.  If your garden already has nice topsoil, all you may need to add is some compost. You can purchase compost online or at your local garden shop. Or you can learn how to make compost at home.

10. It’s Time To Plant

Planting Seeds and Seedlings
Plant seeds or seedlings

This is where the fun really begins.😁

Once you’ve completed the preparations above and the weather/ climate is conducive to gardening, it’s time to start planting. 

Planting In Containers

With container gardening, start by pouring enough potting mix into the containers (about ¾ full).  Wet the soil and mix it up, to make it consistent. Finally, make a hole/ space in the container and place the seeds in and cover them with the soil.  If you have seedlings, remove them (gently) from the seeding container.  Dig a hole or space large enough for the seedling and place it in the container.  Place some potting mix around it to ensure that the roots are properly covered… and that’s it.

Planting In Raised Beds

Raised beds are like larger containers so the process is quite similar to planting in containers.  The only differences are the type of soil used and the tools required.  Also, make sure that you space the plants out sufficiently in the beds.  Plants should be spaced at a minimum of 6-8 inches apart. More space will be needed for larger plants.

Planting In A Traditional Garden

Again, the process is similar to container and raised bed gardening but the soil and some tools will be different.  You’ll need to till (dig up) the soil. If the soil is not suitable for gardening, you may need to mix in some topsoil and compost.  

Recommendation:  Start planting once the season/ weather is conducive for outdoor gardening.  In temperate climates, the best time to start planting is in Spring.  In a tropical climate, the end of the rainy season is perhaps the best time to start planting outdoors.

11. Water Your Garden Sufficiently and Regularly

Water Plants Often
You should water your plants as often as needed.

When should you water your plants and how much water should you give them?

It depends on the type of plants and the prevailing weather conditions.

In summer, when it’s hot and dry, you may need to water your plants on a daily basis.  If the heat is really intense, you may even have to water them twice a day.  In more moderate temperatures, when it’s cool, every other day should be sufficient.

Make sure the soil is sufficiently moist but not too soggy.  

Recommendations:

  1. Use a watering can to water plants in containers and small raised beds.  For larger gardens, use a garden hose (adjust the nozzle so that it sprays).
  2. Water as often as necessary to keep the soil moist.  Water frequently during hot dry weather and less often when it’s cool and rainy.
  3. Water in the mornings and/ or evenings.  This allows the plants more time to absorb water before it is evaporated by the sun.

12. Test Soil and Fertilize

Fertilize Plants
Add fertilizer to boost nutrient levels in the soil.

Most soil mixes usually have some nutrients that can help to sustain plants in the early stages.   As plants begin to grow and mature, however, they may require additional nutrients.

For plants to really flourish, they need essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  Fertilizers provide plants with the nutrients they need.   

Recommendations:  

  1. After about 3-4 weeks of growth, test your soil to find out the pH level and nutrient content.  You can purchase a soil test kit online or at your local garden shop and follow the instructions.  
  2. Based on the results of the soil test, add the right type of fertilizer to the soil.
  3. Some fertilizers release nutrients slowly while some release much faster… It depends on the type.  Follow the directions on the fertilizer package to know how much and how often to add fertilizer. (You can use store-bought or homemade fertilizer).

13. Keep Weeds Out

Mulch Keeps Weeds Out of Your Garden
Mulch beautifies your garden and helps to keep weeds out.

Weeds can rob your plants of precious moisture, nutrients and sunlight… So, it’s important to keep weeds out of your garden.

You can do so manually and/ or by using mulch.

Mulch is used to cover the soil to help keep weeds out of your garden and lock in moisture.  It also helps to beautify your garden.  Mulch is especially useful in larger outdoor gardens.

Recommendation: If you have a traditional outdoor garden, use some mulch to keep away weeds.  You can also physically uproot and remove weeds, as soon as you notice them appearing in your garden.

14. Keep An Eye Out For Pests and Diseases

Pests and Plant Diseases
Look for signs of pests and plant diseases.

After you’ve done all the hard work and your garden begins to flourish, pests and plant disease can undo your labor of love.  Don’t let them! [2]

Recommendation:

  1. Keep a keen eye out for any insects on your plants and any abnormal growth or defects.  Some common signs include: dark spots on leaves, leaves turning yellow, leaves being eaten, plants beginning to wilt and stunted growth;
  2. Identify the type of pests and treat with pest control (preferably organic);
  3. Ensure that soil and other conditions (water, light, etc.) are not contributing to diseases. 
  4. Cut and dispose of diseased leaves/ plants. 

15. Finally – It’s Harvest Time! 

Harvesting
Enjoy your harvest!

If you’ve gotten this far… CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Harvesting your crops is the ultimate reward, for the time and other resources you’ve invested in your garden… so don’t overlook it.

Most short-term crops take between 30 to 120 days from seed to harvest.  Long-term crops (such as fruit trees) can take many months and years.

Recommendation:  

  1. Read the information on the seeds packets to know how long it takes before plants can be harvested, and be prepared to harvest at the right time. 
  2. Be careful not to squash or damage the crops when harvesting.  Use tools, such as pruners, to make harvesting easier with less damage to crops. 
  3. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!  Do a little victory dance!  Take some pictures!  Share with family and friends!

Now You’ve Learnt The Basics of How To Start a Garden, So What’s Next?

Keep going… Don’t stop here.  There’s so much more for you to explore and learn.  
Check out our other gardening guides for ideas for your next gardening project.

AUTHOR

Our team of experienced gardeners has put together this article to help you with your gardening journey. Our goal is to ensure that your gardening experience is enjoyable and rewarding. We are constantly adding and updating articles, so take some time to explore our site.

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