A beginner’s guide to gardening

As a pastime, gardening is both therapeutic and rewarding. You get to spend plenty of time out in the fresh air and you get to reap the satisfaction of seeing your hard work in bloom and have a relaxing garden to enjoy. But if you’ve never really done any gardening before, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

Here are some tips to get you started on this relaxing and enjoyable hobby. 

Plan your garden 

Before you begin, it’s important to decide what type of garden you want to plant. Do you want a kitchen garden growing herbs and vegetables for cooking? Or do you want a flower garden? If you’re planning to grow herbs or vegetables, planning will centre around your family and the types of food they’re likely to eat. You also need to make sure you plant certain vegetables at the right time of year. 

Flowers, on the other hand, need to be planned according to their colour and size in order to create the right look you’re going for. You also need to consider whether you choose annual flowers which will bloom for longer but need to be replanted each year, or perennials which bloom for shorter periods but return each year. 

Prepare the ground 

It’s important that you choose an area for your garden which will get around 6-8 hours of sunlight each day. You also need to choose a relatively flat spot in which to grow your plants. Once you’ve picked your spot, you then need to clear the ground. Slice under the turf with a spade and then cut it into sections to make it easier to remove. 

If you have time, you can prepare the bed over the winter. In the autumn, cover the turf with five to ten sheets of newspaper and spread a 3-inch layer of compost over the top, then leave it for the winter. By spring, the paper will have decomposed and the area will be clear for planting. 

Before planting, turn the soil by using a sharp spade or fork to turn the top 8 to 12 inches of soil. This should be done when the soil is wet enough that you can make it into a ball, but dry enough that the ball will crumble when dropped. 

Planting 

Some plants will tolerate the cold and therefore can be planted in Autumn or late winter, whereas others will need to be planted after the final frost of the season. You can get a head start by planting your seeds indoors and starting them off ready to plant when the frost has passed. Seed packets will contain instructions for effective planting and care. Alternatively, you can purchase young plants from a nursery and plant those. 

Watering 

Make sure you water your seedlings daily as it’s important they never dry out. As the plants grow, you can reduce the frequency of the watering. Weekly would usually be adequate, but the frequency required will depend on the soil humidity and weather conditions. Dry and windy conditions will dry the soil out more quickly and dry, sandy soil will dry more quickly than clay. You should also protect your soil with a layer of mulch as this will keep in moisture and prevent weeds from developing. 

Keep on top of your garden 

Your garden will require continuous attention in order keep it looking fresh. Make sure you frequently remove dead or dying flowers to allow new ones to grow. You also need to remove destructive insects from your garden, such as slugs and caterpillars. Weed regularly as well, ensuring you pull up any weeds by the roots in order to prevent them from redeveloping.

At Frank Key, we have all the equipment and knowhow you need to start gardening and keep your garden looking fresh. Take a look at our landscaping supplies for inspiration and guidance and start enjoying your new hobby!