What are your New Year’s resolutions? Maybe you want to spend more time in the garden? Starting gardening is a fantastic thing to do. It helps to increase the amount of exercise you do, improve your health, your enjoyment of your garden and can provide you with delicious produce! However, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to start gardening this new year.
Decide What You Want
The most important thing when you first start out is to have a focus. Gardening can cover a huge array of different things: planting vegetables or fruit, planting flowers, growing the perfect lawn, mastering the skill of ornamental topiary trimming… deciding on a focus to begin with should be really helpful in giving you a place to start.
If you know you want to produce vegetables, for example, then that makes it a lot easier to know what tools you’ll need and what space. You might want to balance your garden between lawn space for your children to play on and gardening space for you.
It’s a great idea to have a mix of different spaces in your garden as it means that loads of different people can enjoy it. Greensleeves are experts in lawn care and provide seasonal treatments, as well as specialist care such as aeration and scarification. If you choose to focus on your lawn as your first step into gardening, you shouldn’t find it too difficult to perfect with our professional services!
Flowers are a great choice as there is such a huge variety of options that you can create from basic hanging baskets right through to colour coded and patterned displays. When you become an expert gardener, you could try planting a garden that changes colour throughout the year.
Growing produce in your garden is a fantastic way to improve your environmental footprint and get delicious fruit and vegetables into your diet. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of growing your own food!
It’s often a good idea to start growing things in your garden before you invest in a greenhouse -- this is just in case you decide that gardening isn’t for you! But if you already have one or are sure it’s a worthwhile investment, a greenhouse is a great way to grow fruit and vegetables of different varieties and in an environment that’s easier to control. Fruit can sometimes grow larger, is protected from animals and can be kept warmer.
Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to focus on more than one thing, but if you want to start slowly, then picking one area can be really helpful.
Once you know where you want to focus your gardening, you’ll need to get the right tools! You do need to invest in a few things to garden effectively, but they shouldn’t be too expensive from your local hardware shop.
Essential Tools to Start GardeningThe essential tools to start gardening are:
- Gardening Gloves - these are vital to protect your skin from scratches, thorns, abrasion and other injury while gardening
- Spade (or trowel) - depending on how much gardening you’re doing, you’ll need a tool to dig your garden. A spade is good for harder soil and larger areas while a trowel is great for smaller sections. If you’re starting very small, a trowel might be enough, but otherwise we recommend a spade.
- Watering can - A watering can is essential for any gardener.
- Gardening fork - full size or hand held are both extremely useful as they allow you to loosen soil and prepare the ground.
- Sacatures -- hand held, sharp pruning tools allow you to cut back smaller branches and plants to keep your garden under control.
- Lawn mower -- if you have a lawn or are planning on having a lawn, you’ll need a lawn mower in order to take control and care for your grass.
These are the basic tools you’ll definitely need if you want to start gardening, but there are many more things that you might find helpful in time. For example, if your garden is large or you do a lot of gardening, you might find you need to invest in a wheelbarrow. This makes transporting tools, plants, garden waste and more easy.
Plan Gardening Ahead
When you start out gardening, it can be easy to become over excited and want to start everything straight away. However, one of the key things about gardening is patience. Every fruit and vegetable has a season in which it will grow and a time when it can be harvested and every flower will be the same. It’s important to plan your garden for the time of year.
This could mean planting some seasonal plants now, but saving space in your garden for plants that need to be sown in the spring.
That doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to do now. Every month there’s always something that can be done in the garden, but you have to plan ahead to know what you want to do and when.
Fruit trees can be bought as samples and sometimes take years to mature and produce fruit. If you want to grow fruit trees, it’s great to plant them as early as you can so you can enjoy the produce as early as possible! But of course, make sure you plant them at the right time of year to ensure they stay healthy and grow well.
If you want to grow a flower garden, choose the right flowers for the time of year. If you’re planting bulbs, these will need to be planted before you want the flower to grow. For example, daffodil bulbs are planted in September, tulips in November and gladioli in early spring.
You can buy flowers already grown that can be planted into your garden. These then grow and multiply in your space.
When laying out your flowers, it’s a good idea to place them on top of the soil to plan the pattern and design that you want to achieve. When you’re happy, you can then plant them properly.
First Gardening Jobs to Start
1. Clear Space
You might have to start by doing lots of weeding and clearing of beds to make room for your garden. A strimmer can be really useful in defining the edges of your lawn or you can use edging.
2. Improve the Soil
Sometimes soil isn’t ready to have plants grown in it as it’s lacking nutrients or it’s too hard. You have to prepare soil by adding fertiliser, compost, loosening the soil, watering and more.
3. Pick Plants
Some people like to head down to the garden centre and simply choose the plants they like the look of, while others research for months before buying! There are loads of ways to choose plants, but we recommend you find out a bit about each one before planting as some can grow quickly, some require a lot of care or will need certain conditions in which to grow.
Make sure you know whether you have a garden that receives a lot of sunlight, is shady or has a variety of spaces as most plants can only grow in certain conditions. Choose plants that will work for your garden and choose the right places to plant them to ensure they have the best conditions for them.
Most packets of seeds will have instructions on when to plant them and when to harvest, and garden centres usually only stock seedlings at the right time of year to plant them.
4. Tend to your Plants
Once they’re in the ground, ensure you look after your plants. Different plants will need different levels and types of care in order to grow, so make sure you know what yours need. A basic step is to keep them watered! You might need to cover some plants in winter to protect them, or to ensure they’re trimmed back at the right times.
5. Keep Going!
Gardening teaches you a lot of things and one of them is patience! But the reward of all your hard work is certainly worth it. It’s not just the delicious taste of vegetables or being able to enjoy the colourful displays of flowers; there’s a certain satisfaction that can’t be matched in successfully growing plants!