With lockdown still underway and many people now with much more time on their hands, the popularity of gardening is growing. People are using their free time to turn their fingers green and take up gardening as a new hobby.
So, for all those new gardeners out there, here are our top ten tips for people new to gardening.
Start small and simple
The first crucial two tips for new gardeners (and arguably the most important) are to start small and keep it simple. You don’t want to be overly ambitious with your garden and overwhelm yourself with lots of jobs to do when starting out. So make things easier for yourself and just stick to gardening a small space. You should see gardening as a marathon, not a sprint, which takes time and a great deal of work and effort. Once you’ve seen some success as a gardener, that’s when it’s time to go bigger. But to start with, think small.
Have the right tools
Before you get started on your new hobby, you should make sure you at least have the basic tools and equipment to do the job well. Essential gardening tools for the beginner include gloves to protect your hands, a spade for digging holes for plants, a watering can to water them, and pruning shears to keep them under control. Other must-haves are a gardening fork for turning the soil, a hand trowel for taking out weeds, and a rake to sweep away leaves and debris.
Try veg first
When starting out as a gardener for the first time, it’s wise to focus on plants that don’t take too much skill to grow. For this reason, you should consider growing vegetables. Veg isn’t as difficult to grow as other plants and doesn’t take as long. This means if you do make a mistake (and, of course, mistakes do happen) it really doesn’t matter as you won’t have wasted a great deal of time. Growing vegetables, from potatoes through to spinach, also means you can enjoy them in some home-cooked meals, which makes the process of gardening even more enjoyable and satisfying.
Don’t skimp on soil
Soil is key to helping your plants grow in the best possible way, so you need to make sure the type you use is a high quality. There is a difference between organic soil that’s rich with nutrients, and topsoil. So it’s worth spending some time doing research to learn about the different types of soil available. This is a key area for spending your money when you’re new to gardening, so it’s worth investing in some really high-quality soil if you can. It’s also worth adding a few inches of mulch to the top of your soil, which helps it hold water for longer.
Pick the right plants
Again, it’s all about simplicity when it comes to gardening for the first time, so keep your plants simple too. Try to avoid going for complex and exotic plants that require a lot of skill and attention. Instead, stick to those types that thrive without much assistance. As mentioned, vegetables like leafy greens are a good choice, as are fruit-bearing crops such as tomatoes. Flowers, which are easier to see bloom and worth considering, include pansies, sunflowers and marigolds.
Give your plants space
While it can be tempting to want to fill up your garden with so much colour and variety, it’s important to give your plants space. It’s easy to think your garden will be bare when you’ve planted your seeds and nothing has started to grow. But overcrowding a garden is a common mistake of many a new gardener. To avoid this, it’s advisable to think about how your garden will look in the future. Checking how big your plants are likely to grow to, so you can visualise them at full maturity, will help you know how much space to give them.
Get your watering right
Your plants first need light, and secondly, they need water. But watering is a part of gardening that can cause a lot of gardeners unnecessary stress - when it really doesn't need to. A first important rule is to water at the base of your plants, watering the roots slowly, rather than spraying from overhead. You should also use a watering can or hose with a spray head to do this. Other pointers to keep in mind are that watering in the morning is best, and watering deep and less often is more effective than watering lightly and frequently.
Keep on top of weeds
Weeds aren’t just ugly unsightly things to have in your lovely garden. They rob your soil and plants of crucial nutrients and water. So, as a new gardener, it’s important to remember to keep on top of weeds by regularly making time to remove them to get the most from your plants. Good tips for weed control include using mulch, which keeps soil cool and moist and deprives weeds of light, and chopping off their heads if you’re struggling to remove them.
Keep a diary
A final tip for people new to gardening is to keep a diary. Doing this is a really good way to mark your progress, your failures and your success as a new gardener. You’re likely to make a few mistakes when you start out, but that’s to be expected. If you keep notes in a diary, like about what you’ve done, planted and when, highlighting your different observations day to day, you can look at what did and didn’t work, and adjust your techniques over time. This can all contribute to making you a better and more experienced gardener in the long run. It can also help you know when you’re no longer a beginner and it’s time to move forward and go bigger.
We hope these top tips have helped you if you’re new to gardening. If you need any new gardening tools or supplies for your new hobby, get in touch - we’re here to help.