In all the years I have been gardening, I have been asked many times what my number one tips for new gardeners. I found myself contemplating this very question on many occasions and it got me thinking. Over the years I have given many tips on my gardening YouTube channel. But what would be my all-time number one tip?
Well, here it is. My number one tip for new gardeners. Is to NEVER USE A Tiller until you have removed all the perennial weeds. New gardeners are usually told by well-meaning gardeners to use a Tiller to till the soil. This is a huge mistake as you will cut up perennial weeds making your issue a hundred times worse.
This question also got me thinking about what everyone else’s number one tip would be. So, I reached out to gardeners on Facebook and asked them this very question.
What to expect tips for new gardeners
Throughout this blog, you will find the number one tips from many seasoned gardeners of Facebook. Some of which I will add my two cents worth at the end. These are tips I think every new gardener can benefit from. Having a resource such as this can really set you on the right path as a new gardener
Before I continue, I want you to know that every new gardener has felt exactly the same as you do now. Asking the question. Where do I start? I decided to make this post 60 top tips for new gardeners. Use the advice from these experienced gardeners and know that it’s tried and tested. Of course, I am always happy to answer questions and provide further advice via my YouTube Channel.
New to Gardening?
The first of our tips are about things you should consider before you even start. This will place you in the right mindset for gardening and sticking with it throughout the year.
- Carol Bee says, ‘Find an old Pro to ask advice’ This is good advice, speaking to gardeners around you can help with local climates, soil conditions and when to expect first frost dates and so forth. A lot can be gleaned from just sitting down and having a cup of tea with an old gardener who has stood the test of time.
- Keith Bissonnette says, ‘Talk to other gardeners who can advise you about plant disease, pests, watering and other environmental challenges you may face.
- Mike Smith says, ‘I learned a lot from watching YouTube videos, Facebook groups and Magazines. Do a lot of research before you waste time and money.
It is important to be able to establish connections with local gardeners around you. Maybe there is a gardening club. A local allotment society or even a community garden you can reach out too. I would also suggest joining some gardening groups on social media this can be a great way to get instant answers to those burning questions.
Planning Where to Garden
Whether you want to grow vegetables or flowers and shrubs knowing where you will garden will be the first thing you should consider. Not everyone has their own land. You may live in a flat or apartment, or even in rented accommodation where outside space is limited.
If this is the case then look for community gardens, allotments or even contact neighbours who maybe to elderly to look after their gardens now and see if you can arrange to garden in exchange for flower or vegetables.
If you have your own garden at home, a smallholding or homestead then you will have exactly what you need and can skip the last step.
This subject is all down to personal preference, however, there are fundamental rules to follow. If your gardening to grow a garden to relax in, then tranquil planting and possibly flowing water will help you get where you want to be. But this is a subject for further blog posts.
Here I wish to tackle the basics of how you can design your own garden. Lori Pokol says, ‘To pre-plan and experiment’, and Sudheer Manthri says, ‘to plan before you plant’. This is sound advice, by pre-planning, we already know the number of plants required and their position to be planted and what conditions they require.
Tips for new gardeners
Tips for new gardeners on planing a garden
With the invention of the internet, there have been programmers who have designed many tools to aid the gardener. These tools such as the Gardena Garden Design tool and the Vegetable Garden Planner are designed to help you maximise the productivity and beauty of your gardening space
Consider the foundations for your garden. Where large items will go that you do not want to be moving on a regular basis, for example. The placement of compost bins. More on these a little later in the blog.
Thresa White has a very valuable point on this subject too. She says ‘Take time to research what you want in your garden. Draw it out before you plant. I did not follow this plan. Time and energy were used only to change the whole layout. I learned the hard way’.
Improving Garden Soil
I have been making YouTube gardening videos for over 9 years. And throughout that time, I have always said that you must feed the soil and not your plants. This increases the soil life and a by-product of this means your plants get everything they require. This tip also comes from David Mann, Kevin Searcy who both agree with me, and Gloria Crenshaw says, ‘Soil is the key’.
Ernst Ernst says, ‘soil test and light measurements. Performing a soil test can reveal what you are working with. This will give you any lacking minerals or nutrients and also tell you what the underlying PH of your soil is. There are many products on the market to test soils. Terri Stralow says, ‘Invest in the dirt. It’s worth the money’. And this is backed by Kimberley Reynolds also.
I have tried many of them, but the best one I have found and used at home is the Luster Leaf 1662 Professional Soil Test Kit found on Amazon. This has 40 tests which is fantastic it enables you to take soil samples from all over your garden to ensure that you have the correct growing conditions for the plants you wish to grow in that space.
An alternative is to send soil samples away for professional testing. I have done this in the past and it shows a complete breakdown of the nutrient cycle of your soils. Companies such as Lancrop Laboratories and Agrolab. This is for more serious gardeners. I used it when trying to break a world record for the heaviest marrow. Which still eludes me.
Composting at home
Barb Hughes says, ‘Take care of your soil and learn how to compost’. Now we know about what our soil contains we need to consider how we will not only maintain the soil in its current form but improve upon it.
That is where composting comes into play. There are many ways to compost and I have a YouTube video here on how to build a compost pile.
There are so many ways in which to compost Just piling it on the floor in a heap, using a manufactured compost bin or even a bin from pallets. No matter how you compost the important thing is that you plan to compost. Victoria Wilds says, ‘It’s all about the soil’. And Michele Sullivan Burns totally agrees with Victoria.
Raised Beds or Ground
It has become popular over the past 10 years to grow in raised beds. Raised bed gardening has many advantages and disadvantages, likewise with growing in the ground. It is all down to personal preference.
Here are the pros and cons of raised beds
Here are the pros and cons of Growing in the ground.
However, you decide to grow, Robert G McLaughlin says, ‘leave plenty of room between beds. This will allow you to work comfortably and get a wheelbarrow around the garden. Gardening is a lot of fun if you plan your space accordingly’.
Watering the Garden
This is another consideration you need before ever planting anything. You may be lucky enough to have a tap right in your garden where it is required. But in this day and age, we are all getting much more conscious about saving water. There are a few ways in which to save water and to collect rainwater in order to irrigate your garden.
Aydin Keigan says, ‘My moisture meter helps me not to overwater my plants’. This is a good idea, especially for new gardeners who don’t understand that individual plants require different amounts of water.
If you are gardening on a homestead, a smallholding or even an allotment there may not even be taps available. For 12 years I gardened when the only source of water I had available to me was rainwater. I had to ensure I was utilising all buildings for rainwater catchment.
I have gotten so used to this that even though I have taps at my own garden I still use around 95% rainwater. Leslie Roos says, ‘Have a good water source system’. To see my 10,000-litre rainwater catchment on YouTube click here.
This is not only better for the environment, but also saves money purchasing water from the water companies. But it’s also better for your plants in most cases. The only time I wouldn’t use rainwater is when I am watering seedlings, as this can cause fungi and moss to grow killing them.
Linda Thomas says, ‘Water Less’. There are many ways in which to do this. Lately, I made a video about hydroponic peppers and those 6 plants have not used 100 litres between them all year. This is a great way to save water. Using a watering can is often not the most effective way to water. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hydroponics systems such as this Autopot system I bought on Amazon can all be used with great effect to save water.
Yvonne Cleveland Says ‘Invest in a sprinkler system or buy a timer and drip hoses to help your plants stay evenly watered. This will save your plants when you get bored, busy or go on vacation’.
What gardening tools do I need?
I have always said a gardener’s best friend is the garden hoe. There are so many different types of hoe and I have many of them. Onion hoe, Dutch hoe, speed hoe, but my all-time favourite is the Stirrup hoe which I purchased on Amazon. This just allows me to hoe off newly germinated weed seedlings within minutes. This few minutes a day saves me days of weeding later in the growing season
Don Clarke says, ‘Make sure you got a spade and a fork’. To add to that a rake and a hand trowel and a straight line would also be useful
Planting a Garden
We have now got in the structure, we have designed what we want and where we want it, and now have the support structures in place, these may be climbing frames for beans and so forth such as this video I made earlier this year.
Now it’s time to get sowing. That’s right we can now think about actually growing something. There are many ways to grow. We can go to a garden centre or big box store and buy plant starts that we can take home and start our garden.
Judy O’Keefe says ‘Try seeds it’s fun’ which is an alternative and the main way a lot of gardeners go, especially if you have large gardens or growing your own food. Seeds save you money, but you get to see a plants development from start to finish. This helps you understand what that species of plant needs much more.
Donna Gibbons-Wert says ‘Check what planting zone you are in and whether a plant-like sun or shade and plant accordingly’ this is a great tip. You have to know exactly what each set of plants require, and this can go back to the planning phase, but when you are sowing it ensures you don’t plant too many of one type of plant.
Viola McShannon Says, ‘Grow what you love to eat’. This is good advice especially if you are short of space, but I would add here, don’t be afraid to try new things now and then.
Successional sowing is important too. Sow smaller amounts some plants like radish grows and are harvested very quickly so you need to sow additional seeds a few weeks later to provide you with new followers on crops. Others like Jerusalem artichokes – sunchokes take all season and these just need to be planted the once. Read the labels that come with your seeds.
When sowing seed, it is important to ensure to label everything, don’t be tempted to sow tray upon tray thinking you will remember what is in each tray.
Water seedlings when they come through with tap water only as discussed earlier. It is much better and sterile for the plants, if you are worried about chlorine in the water, simply fill your water cans a day before and let them stand. The chlorine will dissipate overnight.
Potting on Seedlings
It is important to be able to move seedling on as they grow. When sown in trays or modules they are deprived of nutrients as they use it up in the growth. Potting on seedlings into a larger container with fresh potting soil allows the seeding to continue its growth.
When potting on you should consider the plants. Some require long tap roots so deep root trainers are necessary and other just a little larger pot will suffice, don’t be tempted to try and skip steps by moving the seedling into larger pots as this often means the soil holds too much moisture and damping-off can occur killing your seedlings.
Simply keep moving plants on to the next sized pot as is required. This will enable you to have an early start while it is still cold outside. It may mean that fleece may be required at times to protect your seedlings as they grow.
The advantage is that growing seedlings in this way will mean you can have a continual supply when required, and as soon as the outside soil warms you can start to transplant. How your transplant is dependent on the plants you are taking outside.
It is extremely important to acclimatise any plants grown indoors before taking them out. Initially putting them in the cold frame through the days and taking them back in through the nights. This gives them a chance to acclimatise.
Eventually leaving them outside in the days to return in at night. This should be done over a number of weeks. After which the seedlings may be transplanted into their final growing spots. It prevents transplant shock to the new seedlings. Not doing this is the number 1 cause of seedlings dying when they are put outside.
Susie Spearing says, ‘Don’t Plant seedlings too close together. Remember they will grow’. Kathryn Dipietro says, ‘Dig the hole twice as deep and twice as big around as you thought you would need’. And Scott Andrews says, ‘Dig a 10-dollar hole for a 2-dollar plant. Give new plants the best chance to spread their roots’.
Jackie Penn Says, ‘Consider companion planting with flowers which will attract beneficial insects such as bees for pollination’.
You have your frail little seedlings all placed out. And now there are all sorts of dangers out there, from the birds to the dreaded slugs. Talking of slugs if you need a sure-fire way to beat this pest then check out this video.
It may be required for certain crops like brassicas and lettuce and fruit we may need to net them to protect from the birds. These can take the tops off your seedlings at times when food sources may be in short supply. I have seen many gardeners turning the sky blue screaming at birds for destroying their freshly planted garden.
Frost protection may also be required. Cloches, tunnels, fleece and Vegimesh are also great ways to create microclimates to protect against frost and insects. Talking of insects as Lisa Grant Paris says, ‘Buy Praying Mantis and Ladybugs on amazon’. This is good advice bringing in natural predators to control pest that can decimate your crops can only be a good thing. I also have a video here to help with pests in the garden.
Tip. Create a Pond
Additionally, you may want to create a pond which will help bring wildlife into the garden. This is one of my tips for new gardeners. This one thing will really help with controlling pest species within the garden. It will attract hedgehogs, butterflies, birds, frogs, newts and all sorts of wildlife that will help you. Check out this video for a pond with a difference.
Mulching your crops can really help retain water and keep down weeds. SA Rena says, ‘Mulching first’. This also helps with pest species as a lot of them don’t like climbing over certain mulches.
More tips for new gardeners
I totally love gardening, it is my hobby but not only that it is my passion, and I am sure it will become yours too given time. Coralie Druin-Shaw says, ‘One of the greatest rewards to garden is there’s something new to see every single day because it’s alive’. That is the great thing about gardening, we are joining mother nature and tending to our small piece of land.
Working in conjunction with the wildlife that shares it with us. Before I go, I would like to add a few more tips from Facebook gardeners below that I haven’t added into the body of this blog. But I think these are worth noting for any new gardener.
Olga Henderson Says, ‘Start small, and don’t get discouraged, Plants die even if everything was done perfectly’
Linda Dungy Ray Says. ‘Don’t Obsess over getting it right when you start. Perfect way or not, just pull on your gloves and go to work. There are a few things you cannot fix if you goof’.
Debbie Taylor Says, ‘Keep notes, what you like Vs what you don’t like. Try new things. It’s all an experiment. Don’t sweat it, if it doesn’t work out try something else.
Huw Richards Says, ‘Always focus on the successes in the first year. Don’t let failures bring you down. Even the most experienced gardeners have failures.
I couldn’t’ agree more with all of the tips given by the gardeners of Facebook here. They have fantastic advice for any new gardener who is just starting their journey into this awesome hobby. I for one really hope this blog post has given you room for thought and to help you with getting on in the right track.
But of course, this isn’t an end-all and be-all of the gardening but following the advice here will really help you. Consider subscribing to my YouTube channel where I am constantly putting out helpful content full of tips and walk you through the entire process.
Before I say goodbye, I just want to put one more thing for you to remember. It doesn’t matter what happens, Winter has a great way of resetting the garden. Even the best gardeners struggle from time to time, do not be afraid to ask questions, because the only stupid question is one that never gets asked.
If you enjoyed this post and think other gardeners and new people getting into gardening will enjoy, then I would really appreciate you sharing this post on Social Media groups. Happy gardening and remember folks you reap what you sow