A Guide to Planting Your First Garden

gardening tips

Planting a garden sounds like a simple enough task, but when you’ve never done it before, it can be easy to make costly mistakes. To help you avoid having any reason for regret, this simple guide to planting your first garden will get you started in the most positive way.

1. Plan everything

How much planning you need to do depends on the size and nature of your property. You will always get the best results if you start with a clear objective in mind and know exactly what you want to achieve.

Factors to consider in your plan include:

  • Size and shape of the property
  • Where sunlight and shadows fall
  • Location of existing garden trees, outbuildings, etc.
  • What plant types interest you
  • Whether you will have a theme for your garden
  • What decorative features you’d like to include
  • Whether you need pavement, lamp posts, etc.

Drawing up a good plan and doing the required research is actually a very satisfying process, as you’re working toward a goal you have set for yourself.

If you feel any uncertainty, don’t be shy to ask questions at a plant nursery or garden specialist, because they can be a valuable source of information and will normally be quite pleased to help you.

When you are looking at how the sunlight falls on the property, it will give you an idea of where to plant and what to plant in certain spots. Consider planting a hedge, such as an evergreen hedge, along the borders and between different areas to provide a natural protective barrier and aesthetic beautification.

2. Get a professional soil test done

Surprisingly, most people don’t understand this is not an optional step. You could get good results without a professional test, but that will be pure luck, and what you want is assurance of no regrets. We should not rely on luck for the outcome of something as important as a garden.

The soil test will identify:

  • Soil composition (ratio of sand, clay, and loam)
  • Soil nutrient profile
  • Soil acidity level

These factors will determine what can currently be grown on the site, as well as helping to identify what corrective steps you can take to enable you to grow other things on the site.

Planting in unsuitable soil will not allow your plants to thrive, and may worsen the soil conditions further, which can promote the presence of weeds, plant diseases, and other undesirable traits.

3. Perform the landscaping

This is possibly the most challenging part of the task. You can do this yourself or engage a contractor to assist you. When working with a contractor, make sure you’re very clear about your plans to ensure there are no misunderstandings.

During this phase, certain parts of the garden area may need to be excavated or levelled, while other areas may need building up. Raised areas may need reinforcement, and you’ll also need to think about drainage.

Pathways should be well defined and properly constructed, and of course bridges should always be designed with safety in mind.

4. Buy and install garden hardware

With the site prepared by any necessary landscaping, the garden hardware can be installed. These include lamp posts, decorative stones, pavers, seats, swings, fountains, and anything else you can dream up. Installing these before you put in the plants will avoid placement errors.

5. Prepare the soil

If your soil scientist has recommended any necessary conditioning for the soil, then you need to do this step after the hardware is installed but before the plants are installed.

6. Buy and install the plants

Try to arrange to have the plants that need to go in first delivered first. If you are planting hedges using mature saplings, you’ll find that putting them in early will give the garden a good sense of definition. You’ll then have the necessary perspective to help you plant the rest of the garden more easily.

Although it is not a golden rule, it is recommended to plant hedges and trees first, and then flowers or shrubs.

7. Water and fertilise

After putting in new plants, it is always a good idea to provide a good soaking, unless Mother Nature takes care of this for you. Doing this will allow the plants to settle in well to their new home. Some types of plants will do best with the application of fertiliser immediately after planting, while for others it wouldn’t be the best idea.

Talk to your plant experts about the fertiliser needs of the plants you have chosen, and it really wouldn’t be a bad idea to share the results of the soil tests you performed, so there is a really clear picture of what your plants need.

8. Enjoy your garden

This step is optional, but having gone to all the trouble of establishing a perfect garden, it would be a shame not to enjoy it. The garden you have just created will add value to your home, provide a relaxing retreat, and give a beautiful visual ambience.

Gardens are truly delightful places and, if done properly, will usually prove to be a delightful addition to your home.