If you’re anything like me, you want a beautiful and manicured garden but aren’t really sure where to start because, well, you’ve got the opposite of a green thumb. I somehow manage to kill about 80 percent of the things I plant – so where do you go from there when deciding what you should plant in your garden? That really depends on how adept you are at caring for the plants and nurturing them into adulthood — but everyone has to start somewhere. If you’re strictly in “brown thumb” territory like me, here are some easy ways you can start your garden.
A Garden for Beginners – The Tools
Your raw enthusiasm for starting a garden is commendable and you’ll need to harness it to get going, but you first have to start with the right tools. Everyone loves to buy new things and part of your new gardening hobby will require you to go shopping!
The tools you need to have include:
- Pruners – Pruning shears are an important garden tool. They allow you to prune roses and shrubs and also to cut back perennials.
- Spade and shovel – If you’re going to be digging in the dirt, you need the right tools. A quality spade and shovel will be essential. Look for heads made of forged metal and handles that fit firmly and securely to the shaft.
- Watering tools – You need a good garden hose to water all those plants you’ll be planting. Look for a long handle to reach hard to get places.
- Weeding tools – You need a Cape Cod weeder, which is a tool with a knife-like blade to slice weeds and loosen soil easily. You also need a multi-purpose gardening knife for digging up weeds (I’m talking to you, dandelions).
- Others to consider – You may also want to invest in a tape measure, shears, pocket knife, scissors, a garden cart or wheelbarrow, and a pruning saw.
Annuals for Beginning Gardeners
Annuals will be your best bet to get your garden started. They’re easy to grow and easy to find at your local gardening store. Plus, all you have to do is follow the right rules of spacing, lighting, fertilizing, and watering to be successful.
What you plant is largely decided by what climate zone you live in, but a few that work almost anywhere include:
- Scarlet sage
To grow annuals, plant the transplants closely so they fill in fast. The tag on the plant may say to plant them 8 to 12 inches apart, but I’d go with the lower end of the spacing spectrum so they look lush without space between them once they start to grow.
After planting, make sure you water two to three times per week. The moist soil encourages good growth, so keep remembering to water all summer long for the best results!
Feeding them is important too. About once a week, feed them with a 20-20-20 fertilizer mix that you combine with water. Or you can go with organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion or kelp-based fertilizer.
Also, pay close attention to the tag to discover if the plant is best for sun or shade. If you plant a shade plant in the sun, it’s not going to do well for you or the poor plant!
Perennials for Beginning Gardeners
There are a lot of choices when it comes to easy-to-grow perennials for your garden. They are a great addition to any garden because once you plant them and they become established, they can thrive for up to five years after planting. They are also hardy and resistant to insects and disease. What makes them perfect for the new gardener is that they’re really hard to kill. Always a plus!
A few perennials you may want to try in your garden include:
- Blazing star
- Butterfly flower
- Globe thistle
- Lady’s mantle
You’ll want to follow the same basic guidelines for getting new plants transferred and established as you did for annuals, making sure to pay attention to any instructions that come with the specific plants.
So, there you have it — an easy way to get your green thumb growing right along with your garden. Before you know it, you’ll be a pro!