Simple Gardening Tips for Beginners

Spring is right around the corner which means it’s time to start planning your garden! Wondering where to start? These expert tips are here to boost your gardening confidence!

  1. Starting a garden requires a lot of consideration over location. Your garden should be somewhere close to your home and built in a location that receives bright sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. *Tip: If possible, consider the south side of your home.
  2. It is pertinent that you plant your garden near a water source. Not only will your plants thank you, but you will also thank yourself for this! Planting near a water source will allow you to water your garden without lugging a water bucket back and forth every time your plants are thirsty. *Tip: Push your finger into the soil about 1-inch; if it’s dry, it’s time for more water.
  3. Invest in quality soil! You want your soil to be heavy in nutrients and well-drained. Depending on your growing medium (containers, raised beds, ground) you might consider options formulated for that choice. For example, if you’re planning to plant in the ground, achieve this blend by mixing 3 inches of all purpose soil into the top 6 to 8 inches of existing soil. If you’re planting in a raised bed, useraised bed soil, which is the perfect weight and texture for raised bed growing.
  4. If space is not on your side, look to containers for your growing needs! You can grow many plants in pots, including edible plants like vegetables and herbs. Just make sure your pot is large enough for the plant it is holding. It will be helpful to know how large your plant of choice will get at its mature size. *Tip: When possible, always opt for a larger pot over a smaller one.
  5. There are pros and cons to starting your gardening with seedlings or transplants (purchased plants). Seeds are inexpensive, but take time and care to germinate indoors (see our next post for tips on this!). Beginning with commercially grown plants can get your garden off to a quicker start, but requires more of an investment to begin. Starting with seeds can be a very satisfying process as you will be able to watch your seedlings grow and fruit throughout that season. Starting with transplants will allow you to harvest your fruits or vegetables quicker. There is no wrong answer when it comes to making this choice, just do your research ahead of time.
  6. Discover your USDA plant hardiness zone! This is especially important when ordering seeds that are not found locally. Hardiness zones divide the US into different zones based on the minimum average annual temperature. This means the lower the number, the lower the temperature seen in that zone. Suppliers for seeds and plants display zone numbers on all products. When shopping for various plants and seeds, you can check the packaging or website to see which hardiness zone is recommended. This prevents gardeners from choosing plants that are not hardy enough to thrive in their environments. *Tip: Across Illinois, we are planting in USDA hardiness zones 5, 6, and 7. In Northern Illinois specifically, we are in zone 5.
  7. Add some mulch! In order to reduce the chances of invasive weed growth in your new garden, layering your soil with mulch will reduce the amount of sun feeding the growth of weeds and reduce moisture lost through evaporation, meaning you will have to water less. A well-mulched garden can produce more vegetables than an un-mulched garden due to its ability to reduce invasive foliage and disease. *Tip: Tentinger Landscapes provides mulch installation services to keep your garden beds looking pristine all season!