10 Gardening Tips for Beginners

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Use these gardening tips for beginners to finally start that garden of your dreams. Everyone has to start someplace, and these gardening tips will lead you in the right direction!

garden along fence with storage shed and bird house

Are you ready to start that garden you’ve always wanted? Gardening is a great hobby, and a wonderful adventure, but for the best results, you want to make some smart choices to help your garden do well in its first year. These tips will help you make the most of your first garden, and lead you on the path to success. Although these tips are geared to a beginner gardener, they also apply to anyone who has been gardening for a while, and even the seasoned gardener.

Don’t go all out your first year.

A common mistake new gardeners make is trying to start out with a huge garden the very first year, when they have no real idea what they’re doing. Instead, start with one garden bed, and a few plants in pots or containers. This gives you plenty to work with, and is the perfect way to begin. Starting small also allows you to experiment and learn to garden without spending too much money. The last thing you want is to get in over your head when you are just beginning!

small terra cotta pot with fresh thyme

Start with seedlings.

Starting seeds is a craft in itself, and in your first year, it can be overwhelming. My best advice for beginner gardeners is to begin with seedlings, or bedding plants as they are sometimes called. They are small plants that can be purchased at all garden centers. All the work involved with seed starting has been done for you, and this allows your garden to get a head start without the stress of trying to learn how to start seeds. That can come later!

bedding plants and potting soil

Plan your beds before planting.

Many new gardeners buy plants, and begin putting them in the ground without planning the placement. Plants and shrubs have their own personal needs for space, light, and nutrition, and these factors need to be taken into consideration. If you don’t plan your garden in advance, you may find yourself with plants that are overcrowded or incompatible. This can lead to plants that fail to thrive, and even a failed garden.

purple allium in cottage garden hss

Improve your soil.

All gardens start from the ground up, and this means for a thriving garden, the dirt you use needs to have adequate nutrition. For a vegetable garden with edible plants, this also affects your family’s health, as the more nutrition the plant gets, the more the produce can offer your family. The best way to do this is with compost, or enriched garden soil. Both compost and enriched garden soil are available by the bag at garden centers, or they can be purchased in bulk.

Stock up on mulch.

A layer of mulch is organic material that is placed on the soil in gardens or any sort of landscape. Mulch is important for keeping your plants moist and cool, and it helps control weeds. Stock up on mulch when it goes on sale at the beginning of the gardening season. Another tip is to begin with a layer of straw, leaves, or grass clippings, and top it with more expensive decorative mulch. This will give you a thick covering for less money.

tips for beginner gardeners shovel in mulch1

Make a watering plan for your garden.

Figuring out your watering plan before you start your first garden can save a lot of frustration later. I suggest avoiding the old-fashioned watering can and go straight for the garden hose. It’s much more efficient to use a hose with a spray nozzle, or a soaker hose that is placed on your garden soil. Another tip for beginners is to place your garden hoses in convenient places. Invest in a long hose for every outdoor water spigot on your property.

white peonies in garden

Use Google to your advantage.

When you find a new plant, encounter pests or insects you’re not acquainted with, or can’t figure out what is going on with your plants, don’t be too shy to hop on Google and search for more information. Google can do amazing things! You can find the proper fertilizer, when and how to prune your plants, how to deadhead, when to harvest, and the list goes on. Just type in a simple description of a problem in the search bar, and you will have quick and easy-to-understand solutions at your fingertips.

gardening vignette with watering can and plants

Find a gardening community.

Gardening communities are everywhere. They can be found in your neighborhood, or online. Having real people to talk to, and ask questions can help make learning to garden easier, and a lot more fun. You can learn so much about gardening by scrolling through discussions in these groups, allowing you to become a better gardener. If you are on Facebook, here are two gardening groups that are open to anyone:

garden vignette watering can white table

Grow what you love.

One of the secrets to successful gardening is choosing plants you love, and ones that will make your life better. Whether it’s planting flowers that enrich your life with their beauty, or growing edible plants that feed your body and soul, make sure to carefully select plants that will be useful and productive. My favorite things to grow are perennials and herbs. I don’t plant many annuals or bulbs. It took me just a few years to come to the conclusion that vegetable gardening was not for me! Once you begin your garden, and teach yourself the basics, you will quickly find out what you like and don’t like.

Keep a garden journal.

This is the best way to record what is working and what is not working in your garden. A garden journal allows you to record all your plants, and then track their progress. It also gives you a place to document the lessons you learn, and look back on them to help plan your garden for the next season. Click the button below to receive a free, printable 5-year garden journal that can be customized to your needs.

Get The OSP Garden Journal

spiral bound garden journal with gardening supplies

I know it’s a lot to think about and plan! My bonus tip is to simply take it one step at a time. Begin the process, take your time, and most important of all, don’t let yourself get discouraged. It’s a learning experience, and I promise it’s worth your time and effort!

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  1. Ellen Sorce says:

    Great advice, Ann, even for us not so new gardeners. I know I complain about having to weed and mulch, but working in my beads is truly my at home happy place.

  2. Good morning Ann, congratulations on the arrival of your 3rd grandchild! They are truly a blessing! Our oldest grandchild is now a freshman in college, which is hard to believe. Seems like they grow up just as fast as our own children did. Enjoy those precious baby years!

    On a different subject, wondering if you miss your house on Sutton Place… your new home is lovely, and I’m sure it’s a fresh start and good feeling to down size into a newer house. When I see pictures from your old house and yard, it reminds me what a lovely home that was as well. Just wondering if you have any regrets or what your thoughts are about leaving your older home and neighborhood.

  3. Thank you Ann for all your tips and gardening advice. I find that you just need to get out there and get your hands dirty!! Gardening is a learning process but oh so very rewarding.
    I printed your Gardener’s Journal last year and absolutely love it! I have added notes, clippings, photos and placed all the plant tags in baggies, labeled by year. Now, I can go back and see which plants I purchased, which I plants did well in the garden and those I would not buy again. My husband & I started composting and our first batch is almost ready. Happy Gardening!

  4. Where did you get those pots that look galvanized ? Love them ! Great information for novice and all gardeners!

  5. One of the best things you can do as a gardener is to be organic. Make or buy compost and add to your bed each year. The earthworms will come and leave behind their nutritious castings. Use organic fertilizer not Miracle Grow….Espoma makes great products. Beneficial insects will come to control aphids. If you use any pesticides…use only insecticidal soap, not poisons so that you can host caterpillar eggs that will later become butterflies or moths. Live with the earth and not against it, is my motto.
    Thanks for encouraging gardening Ann