Getting Your Hands Dirty: Gardening 101 for Beginners

Have you been noticing the changes outside as mother nature trades the brown shades of winter for the fresh greens and golds of spring? As we look forward into the warmer months, it’s time to brush up on beginning gardening skills to make sure your yard is looking its best when spring and summer come calling. If this is your first season gardening, never fear! As long as you’re willing to get your hands dirty, it’s not nearly as daunting as it might seem at first glance.

Making Your Garden POP This Spring

If you have recently moved into a new home, this may be your first season to see what exciting things might pop out of the ground. There are some steps you can take to encourage your garden to put its best foot forward this spring:

Prepare. If you don’t already have tools, now is the time to invest in some! You can start small with:

  1.  gardening gloves

  2. a trowel

  3. a small rake

  4. gardening shears

As you dive into your garden, you will quickly discover what else is needed. Take advantage of the expertise offered at local nurseries such as Lanoha or Mulhall’s as they are often happy to take the time to help you understand what you might need.

Prune. Some perennial plants will need to be pruned at the beginning or end of the growing season. Do some research to understand what plants you have in your garden so you can provide the best care possible. If you aren’t sure what a plant is, you can ask the nursery or there are a number of apps that will help you narrow it down, such as PictureThis. Once you know what you’re working with, it’s much easier to take care of it!

Tidy. Get down to eye-level with your garden beds and clear out any weeds that may still be lingering from the previous summer. Clear out mulch from the previous year that hasn’t begun composting and try to get your beds down to the soil. Prepare your soil for the coming season by loosening it up without disturbing the roots to the plants. Apply fresh mulch over the entire area to help keep new weeds from sprouting and to help your plants stay hydrated through the summer. Be cautious not to bury new plants in mulch or they may not see the light of day!

Watch. If this is your first year with your yard in the spring, it may be a good year to sit back and see what your garden does before making any big changes. See what cycles your plants go through and how they respond to their placement. Some things to consider:

  • Are they getting enough light?

  • Enough water?

  • How is the soil?

  • Are they in the correct zone?

  • Can you see the plants often enough to be reminded to take care of them?

  • Is there an opportunity to add containers or additional garden beds, and what kind of light/zone/water options should you consider there?

Divide. Once you’re comfortable doing it, early spring is the time to start dividing perennials like hostas that will overcrowd their space if not thinned out occasionally. Perhaps this first year let them come up and see what they do, and scope out areas of your new yard that might be good for transplants next year. The sky’s the limit when it comes to your garden!

You will quickly find that gardens are all about location and planning. If you pick the best site for you, your plants, and your climate you will be well on your way to having a successful garden. If you have recently acquired a garden along with a new home, give yourself some time to see what your garden can do. Learn about your plants and how to take care of them before making major changes. Most importantly, have fun! Gardening is the perfect opportunity to get outside, get your hands dirty, and soak up all that good Vitamin D the sun has to offer. Happy digging!