You have made the decision to tackle your garden and make it the perfect space for relaxing in the sunshine – congratulations! A whole world of possibilities await you and we are here to help make the most out of your space, whether it’s a balcony or roof terrace with our handy gardening tips for beginners.
Whether you are looking to tidy up the pesky weeds growing in your flower beds or create a space worthy of the Chelsea Flower Show, try our top 5 tips, and you’ll soon transition from green fingered novice to gardening pro!
Get to know your garden.
“Plants are pretty magical, as they harness energy from the sun and, through photosynthesis, convert that energy into their tissues. Because plants need the sun to grow, many plants, including most fruits and veggies, need a good amount of direct sun during the day.” (greatist.com).
South facing gardens are perfect for cultivating plants as they receive the most sun. Think about whether or not there is anywhere else that receives south facing sunlight – maybe you could put some sun loving flowers in a window box or along the edge of a path? Is there something large in the space? Consider removing it and welcome potential new additions.
How much rain falls on your garden? Some plants need less water than others. Studying the amount of rainfall your garden receives will help you determine how much you need to water your plants and the type of plants you could incorporate into your space. Perennials, trees, shrubs and bulbs all thrive in gardens that receive plenty of rainfall.
Investing in a rain gauge can show you just how much rain your garden receives on average. Make it easier to read by putting a few drops of food colouring at the bottom next time you empty it out. That way when it rains the water will be tinted.
The location and preparation of your garden site is the most important piece of your gardening puzzle. Ideally, a garden site should be level, have full sun, good drainage and loamy, fertile soil. If this describes your garden site, you are very fortunate indeed!
Tackle tough weeds.
It may seem you have a great task ahead of you. However, do not despair; tackling weeds is easier than it looks. Certain weeds grow depending on the time of year, soil and weather conditions. Identifying the weeds that are growing is a crucial step in any attempt to eradicate them. Some are ‘annuals’ and have a life cycle of a year before setting seeds for the next generation. Others such as dandelions have cycles longer than a year and need to be destroyed from the root up with the help of weed killer.
Some plants can be dealt with by simply pulling them from the ground. Annual nettles for example; just be sure to wear some gloves. Others such as chick weed thrive in rich soils and are best removed before they flower and ruin the appearance of plant borders. They’re best removed by shallowly using a hoe or pulling them out with gloved hands.
Now, we get to the fun part of our gardening tips for beginners. Sowing your seeds can be as exciting as watching the flowers themselves grow. You have weeded the area, ensured that the soil is rich and now you are ready to start the process of cultivating new life!
In spring or autumn, prepare the ground for the seeds – removing any large stones or objects in it. On a dry day (to avoid compacting the wet soil), rake the soil so it is levelled and there is tilth, a crumbly substance.
Decide on how you want the flowers to look; scattered or in blocks. If the latter; mark out shallow grooves in the soil with the corner of the hoe. If you would prefer scattered seed, then scatter thinly over the area. Cover any exposed seeds with soil.
When watering the soil, be sure to use a watering can or hose with a sprinkling (rose) head, so the seeds do not come out of the soil with the pressure of the water.
Once the seeds begin to germinate and seedlings appear, get rid of some to provide space, light and nutrients for the remaining. Check the packet to find out the amount of space needed as well as aftercare suggestions.
Get rid of slugs and snails.
Just when you think your garden is looking its best, your garden’s worst enemies, the slugs and snails come and eat all your hard work. They come in various sizes and colors; some are big and dark, some are small and light.
It is the smaller slugs and snails that do the most damage by eating soft foliage for the protein found in the leaves. They also relish fresh seedlings and new growth. This means that any novice gardener must be prepared to fight a tough battle.
Weekend Gardener recommends 5 ways to kill slugs and snails in your garden: hand picking, using lures and traps, preparing a mixture of beer and honey, and deterring through copper.
However, the best way to deal with these pesky creatures is to remove any hiding places that they have such as bricks, piles of vegetation and anywhere else they can hide during the winter.
Rake the soil to eliminate cracks, leaving slugs and snails vulnerable to the winter weather, significantly reducing their numbers for the next year.
Pruning can be easy with the right tools and know-how. Many plants and trees can be allowed to grow without needing regular pruning. On the other hand, some need trimming down in order for flowers and berries to be produced. If left unpruned, some plants continue to grow, becoming top-heavy and flowing above eye level whilst having a bare base.
The activity of pruning can be both therapeutic and beneficial for you and your garden by using very few tools; secateurs, pruning saw, string (to tie stems), bins for green waste, and rubbish bins for perennial weeds. Pruning can also help you get to know your garden for the upcoming season. Identifying the area that have received the most growth and where hasn’t allows you to tailor next season’s growth plan. It also allows gardeners to only cut what is needed from the plant in order to gain the most from it, whether it is flowers, berries or fruits.
Gardening can be a very rewarding activity. With a little time and effort, you can watch your creativity blossom and your ideal outdoor space flower.
What are your top gardening tips for beginners? Share your thoughts with us on social media!