21 Gardening Tips & Tricks for Beginners

Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby that caters for people of all ages. It can be as simple as growing a potted succulent, or as extensive as maintaining a hydroponic garden. It’s up to you to decide to what level you are ready to engage with this exciting hobby. Check out the following tips to help you start your journey as a green thumb.

Garden Planning & Preparation Tips

1. Just Get Started
Don’t spend too much thinking about where you are going to grow your garden. Start with growing plants in a container then transplant them to the garden bed when ready.

2. Well-Drained Soil
Soil drainage is a very important factor for many popular gardening plants, including lavender and Penstemon. Well-drained soil allows oxygen to penetrate the soil more easily. You don’t want the soil too compacted or too sandy.

3. Location and Sunlight
Choose the garden location wisely, especially if you are growing plants that require a lot of sunlight or shade. For example, lavenders enjoy full sun conditions. They should be grown in an open area where natural sunlight isn’t obstructed.

4. Hardiness Zone Map
Check the USDA hardiness zone map to determine whether certain plants will grow in the zone you reside in. For example, plants like Marigold, Sunflower, and Sweet Pea do well in zone 7.

5. Easy Plants
Gardening requires a lot more work than seeding and watering. If you are a total beginner then it may work better if you start with plants that grow easier than others. Aloe, for example, is a easy house plant because it requires low maintenance.

6. Companion Planting
There are many benefits to growing certain plants side-by-side. For example, basil and tomatoes make good companion plants because the basil can protect the tomatoes from common pests like tomato hornworms.

7. Pest-Repelling Plants
Pest-repelling plants can do some of the pest control work for you by keeping common garden pests away from the backyard. Popular pest-repelling plants include lavender, basil, mint, lemon thyme, and rosemary.

8. Composting Benefits
Compost provides valuable nutrient to the soil and can also improve drainage conditions. Compost, however, does take time to integrate into the soil. You should plan on adding compost a few weeks before planting.

Gardening Work Tips

9. Dirty Fingernails
It’s an all too common sight to see dirt wedged underneath the fingernails of a gardener’s hand. One way to prevent this is to slide your fingernails across a bar of soap. The soap seals the undersides of the nail. You can easily wash off the soap once you are done gardening.

10. Pre-Gardening Exercises
Make sure you stretch out the body before you do some gardening work. Doing so will help reduce strain injuries. Back pains can be fairly common for gardeners who bend over while working on the garden bed.

11. Fall Leaves
Don’t throw away the pile of fall leaves you raked in the backyard. They can be used as compost ingredients. Check out our composting tips to learn more.

12. Dealing with Wet Soil
Do not dig when the soil is wet. Digging wet soil can cause all sorts of issues such as making the soil clump together. Wait until the soil is crumbly.

13. Benefits of Mulching
Adding mulching around plants can make a huge difference to their growth. Mulch can help the soil retain moisture and keep weed growth to a minimum.

14. Raised Garden Beds
One way to reduce back injuries is by gardening on a raised bed. Working on an elevated garden reduces strain on the upper body. You could also consider vertical gardening or container gardening if it’s too painful to bend your back.

15. Filling with Packing Peanuts
Growing plants in containers? Add some packing peanuts before you pour in the soil. This is useful if you have a large pot or container that doesn’t have to be filled to the brim with soil. Packing peanuts can also help improve drainage.

16. Avoid Using Pesticide
Deal with common garden pests by using natural pest control methods such as food-grade diatomaceous earth and beneficial insects. Pesticide is harmful to the surrounding ecosystem and long-term exposure may cause a variety of health issues.

17. Calcium Boost with Eggshells
Is the garden soil lacking in calcium? Grind some eggshells and sprinkle the powder around the garden bed. It takes time for the eggshells to break down and become valuable minerals so we recommend you do this in the fall.

18. String Trimmer Getting Jammed
Prevent the line of the string trimmer from breaking or getting jammed by spraying it with a bit of vegetable oil before it’s used.

19. Water Efficiently
Avoid a hefty utility bill by employing an efficient water scheduling schedule. You might consider a smart watering system that waters the plant at specified times.

20. Conserve Natural Water
Use rain barrels to store rainwater for future gardening use. Check out our article on creative ways to save water in the garden.

21. Boiled Cooking Water
Don’t throw away the water used to boil vegetables and eggs. Let it cool down then use it to water the plants. This only applies if no additional condiment (e.g. salt) was put in the boiled water.