Starting a garden can be daunting. There are all kinds of decisions to make and a little planning can go a long, long way toward making a garden you will love working in as much as looking at, but even planning can be a challenge. I think the 2 most important questions to keep in mind are: How do you plan to use the space (entertaining, play area, grow food… )? What do you envision in your mind? Here are some resources to help you answer these questions and create a garden you will enjoy. Where to begin? First you need to choose a good site.
The amount of sun exposure and access to water will play a big part in what plants you will be able to grow. Another good place to begin a new garden is with the soil. This may not be the most fun part of gardening, but as the saying goes: “Feed the soil and the plants will take care of themselves” (http://www. about. com). You will need to access what type of soil you have and what, if anything it needs. You can get your soil tested for a nominal fee at your local Cooperative Extension office and sometimes at a good nursery. The next step in starting a garden would be choosing your plants.
Selecting plants is one of the toughest gardening tasks, simply because there are so many from which to choose. Key things to keep in mind are your hardiness zone and your soil type. But when push comes to trowel, what it really comes down to is what plants do you like and how much time can you put into caring for them. Here are some lists and resources to help you focus your search: drought tolerant plants, easy, low maintenance perennials, deer resistant plant list, and shade plants. Now that you’ve selected the plants it is now time to decide on a garden design. Designing a garden is an ongoing process and half the fun of gardening.
While there are so called design rules, like always planting in odd numbers, there are no garden police to enforce them. Make your garden whatever you envision. Most gardens are a mix of plants, annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs that are always growing and changing. Even the best thought out design will eventually need editing. Even so, there are some basic principles that will get you started off right. Choosing some type of theme, whether it is a color scheme, a style or a group of plants, will not only help give your garden a sense of cohesion, it will help make your design choices easier.
You can always expand from there. When it comes to starting a garden you cannot get started without gardening tools. There are all kinds of tools and gadgets designed to make gardening easier and more enjoyable. There are a few that should be in every gardener’s shed, like good pruners, but most are optional and as you gain experience you will find yourself reaching for the same favorite tools again and again. So do not go overboard buying tools right away. But when you know what you like, it is worth it to invest in the best you can afford.
Good tools are more comfortable to use and last a long time. Here is a sampling of garden tools to start filling your toolshed: shovels, trowels, hoes, garden forks, rakes, water cans, and hose. After selecting a good site to start your garden, choosing plants, and deciding on a garden design here comes the most important step which is maintenance. There is always something to do in the garden: planting, staking, dividing, cutting back and weeding. Some plants are more demanding than others, but garden maintenance is a given.
It can also be the most enjoyable part of gardening, because you get to observe the changes your garden goes through. By regularly working in your garden, you will stay ahead of problems and learn the seasonal rhythms of your plants. You will also learn which plants do well in your garden, which you love and which you would just as soon dig out and give away. Maintenance is the real essence of gardening. After all the hard work of choosing a site to garden, selecting plants, and choosing a garden design you can finally enjoy all the benefits your garden will bring.