Where to start with gardening? Have you found yourself moving into your new home and realising you need to learn more about the gardening basics? Or maybe you’re just wanting to make your garden a more enjoyable place to enjoy spending lazy summer afternoons. Whatever your motivation, we’ve pulled together an easy to follow beginners guide to gardening to help get you started.
How to care for your lawn
A well cared for lawn is a beautiful thing, but it takes more work than most people think. You can just simply mow your lawn, but to get more from it, here are a few basic lawn care tips.
If the British summer is providing some dry, sunny weather, make sure your lawn is mowed regularly. This seems simple, but as having regular haircuts helps your hair health, regular cuts for your lawn does the same thing. You can also change the height your lawn mower cuts at, so make sure that you are not scalping your lawn by cutting on the lowest setting. Also try and pull out the weeds where possible. Weeds can easily sneak into your lawn, but by pulling them out and putting some grass seed in the gaps, you stop the weeds from draining all the resources your lawn needs.
If you’re finding that some patches of your lawn are dry and bare (and you haven’t got a pawed pal that is using it as a bathroom), the ground under it may be compacted. If you take a garden fork and make holes in that area (otherwise known as aerating the ground), it will loosen the ground, and allow water to get where it needs to. If you really want to take your garden to the next level, look at edging your lawn. Not only does this give a neat look to your lawn but it stops it overgrowing and creeping into areas you don’t want it to be.
If the British summer is being typically British, you can still help your lawn to flourish. If you’re finding areas of your lawn are becoming muddy puddles, you can again aerate by using the garden fork trick to let the water filter through to other areas of the lawn. Also use this time to feed your lawn. Yes, that’s right, the lawn needs to be fed. And if you’re going down the fertiliser route, doing this in the rainier weather saves you time and water (and your nose!) letting Mother Nature do most of the work as the rain washes it in, so you can reap the rewards when the sun comes back out.
Lawn care tips
-Remove weeds and lay grass seed
-Aerate to allow for water to flow better
-Edge to stop grass growing where it shouldn’t
How to plant pots
Planting a whole garden can be quite intimidating, so a good place to start whilst you’re learning is planting in pots. This means your gardening is contained, even if your plant grows like crazy or you get overrun by weeds, it's contained to the pot. If starting with pots is how you want to go, these are a few things to bear in mind.
No matter what the situation you need to think about drainage, as it is crucial to the health of your plants. Water needs to be able to filter through the pot properly and exit out. So first and foremost make sure your pots have drainage holes at the bottom, if they don’t have holes, or they’re not big enough, create more holes.
What to use for drainage in pots? It depends who you ask really, and even then people have conflicting ideas. Some suggest you can use a layer of broken bits of pot, stones or gravel at the bottom of the pot to stop compost blocking the holes but this advice is contested. Other advice is elevating the pot itself so it sits on a platform, or it sits within another pot. Keep an eye on your pots as you water and see what works for you and your garden.
Always check the labels of the plants you are buying and check how much sun they need or whether they need to come inside when it’s cold. Place your pots accordingly (make sure plants that need sunshine are in a well-lit part of the garden), and place plants in pots where they have room to grow. Keep the labels in the pots with the plants so you can remember the information each season.
Then finally keep the inside of the pot healthy - use the right soil for plants in pots. As they’re not in the ground, they will need more nutrients which can’t be found by just using regular soil. Also, use plant food! Just like your lawn, plants need food too to be at their best, as well as being regularly watered. Start a routine of when to go out to water and feed your plants, and a few minutes of work a day will lead to beautiful plants and flowers in your pots (be sure to follow the plant food directions for best results).
Top potting tips
- Check pot drainage
- Pick the right spot for your pot
- Give your plants room to grow
- Use the right soil for potted plants
- Feed and water regularly
How to plant flowers
If you don’t want to bother with pots and you’re ready to turn your garden into an oasis of colour, scent and wildlife, then there’s a few other tips on flower gardening for beginners.
If you’re looking to create a flower bed or border, be sure to consider height (what the flowers will be at their tallest), and plant the tallest at the back of a border, or in the centre of the bed. Shortest then at the front or on the edges of the bed. This way you can enjoy all of your flowers, and none are obscured from view (or deprived of sunlight).
When choosing your flowers, it’s important to pay attention to what season they actually bloom in and whether they are perennial or annual. Spreading out the flowering season for your plants will ensure that you have flowers in your garden all year long. Remember that perennials come back year after year, whereas annuals must be replaced and replanted every year.
Finally we want to be gentle with them when planting. They’re not established yet and too much messing around now could mean they don’t grow later. Make sure to water well until your new flowers are fully established.
Top planting tips
- Consider height and colour placement
- Leave space for each flower to grow
- Water well until properly established
How to grow herbs
If flowers aren’t your thing, or you’re looking for an easier alternative, herb gardening is a great place to start. Not only do they look great, but you can also spruce up your meals with herbs you have grown yourself!
These can be grown in the garden, but also grow well in pots, a windowsill herb garden is lovely. Whichever you decide, it’s best to start your herbs in seedling trays and plant them out once they’re big enough to handle the outdoors.
When it comes to the herbs themselves, you can choose between annuals and perennials, just like flowers. Annuals include basil or coriander, perennials include mint and rosemary. Annual herbs will last one year, but the first frost will kill them off. Perennial herbs keep coming back year after year, if looked after correctly. Though they die off in the frost, they should sprout again come spring. You can help this by bringing in any herbs that are in pots inside during the winter.
If you’re planting the herbs outside, you can choose in pots, or directly into a flower bed. Planting straight into a flower bed can be especially nice if you choose herbs that produce beautiful flowers (like dill or rosemary).
If you’re using pots, you’ll want to pick the right soil and prepare it accordingly. It’s especially important with herbs that they are in well-drained soil, so really pay attention to drainage. Also choose a location where they’re going to get a lot of sunlight but are fairly sheltered from the elements.
No surprise, you’ll also need to make sure you water and feed them regularly for them to be at their best.
Top tips for herb gardening
- Start in seedling trays
- Choose your herbs carefully depending on when you want them to bloom
- Choose the right location whether that’s pots or flower/vegetable beds
- Look at the soil, make sure it’s well drained and suitable for herbs
- Feed and water regularly
Overall with your garden, consistency is key to make sure it is at its best. Pair that with your newly acquired gardening basics for beginners, regular watering (from saved water if you can, more tips on that here), and invest in the right plant food. These small but regular changes will make a world of difference to your garden.
If you’re looking for a new home with a beautifully presented garden that you can make your own, why not take a look at our available homes?