Let’s talk gardening tips!
As an avid gardener for over 10 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about coaxing the most vibrant blooms and the juiciest harvests from my backyard plot. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of watching the first seedlings poking through the soil in spring or biting into a sun-warmed tomato plucked straight from the vine. If you’ve caught the gardening bug or just want to dabble in growing your own food, you’ve come to the right place.
I’m here to share my top 10 best gardening tips to help you cultivate a gorgeous and productive garden. Some of these beginner gardening tips are actually basic gardening tips anyone can master. Whether you have a sprawling yard or just a tiny patio, these secrets from a master gardener will have you harvesting basketfuls of fresh produce and enjoying a riot of colour all season long.
Grab your gardening gloves and trowel – your garden is about to get a major dose of green-thumb know-how!
Choose the Right Location: Where to Site Your Garden
As an avid gardener, the location you choose for your garden is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. I’ve learned over the years that the right site can mean the difference between a garden that thrives and one that just survives.
First, look for a spot with plenty of sunlight and good drainage. Most fruits, vegetables, and flowers need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sun per day to produce their best growth and yields. And soggy soil will rot the roots of many plants. A gentle slope is ideal, but if the area is flat, build raised garden beds to improve drainage.
Access to water is also key. Don’t pick a site too far from an outdoor spigot, or you’ll end up dragging hoses and watering cans long distances! I also prefer a location close to my house for convenience and one that’s sheltered from strong winds which can damage plants.
The perfect garden spot will have fertile, nutrient-rich soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7. If needed, you can improve your soil over time by adding compost, peat moss, and other amendments. Test your soil to determine what it may be lacking.
With the right location chosen, you’ll be well on your way to gardening success. My garden has become my happy place over the years, a spot for peaceful reflection and connection with nature. May your perfect garden location bring you as much joy!
Prepare the Soil: Improving Your Garden’s Foundation
I can tell you that the secret to a successful garden starts from the ground up. Preparing your soil is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure your garden thrives.
The soil is the foundation that supports your plants, so you’ll want to make it nutrient-rich and able to retain moisture. I always add compost or organic matter like peat moss to help improve the soil structure. These amendments loosen compacted clay soils and help sandy soils hold more water.
You should also check your soil’s pH and nutrient levels. Most plants prefer a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 7. If needed, add lime to raise the pH or sulphur to lower it. A soil test can determine if your soil lacks key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus or potassium so you know exactly what to add.
Once your soil is prepared, start turning it over. Rototilling or double digging helps aerate the soil and mixes the amendments evenly. For new gardens, I till to a depth of at least 8 to 12 inches. Existing gardens can be tilled to just 6 inches deep to avoid disturbing plant roots.
Healthy, fertile soil is vital for your garden and the time you spend improving it will pay off with thriving, productive plants. Follow these tips and your garden will be the envy of all your neighbours! With the right foundation, you’ll be harvesting bumper crops of homegrown fruits and veggies in no time.
Start With Seed or Transplant?: How to Get Growing
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is whether to start with seeds or transplants. My enthusiastic answer is both! Each has its advantages, so here are some tips to help you decide what will work best for you.
Start with Seeds
Starting from seed allows you to choose from a wider variety of plants and save money. It’s exciting watching little seedlings sprout and grow into mature plants. However, some seeds can be tricky to germinate and require time, patience, and the right conditions. If you’re new to gardening, I’d suggest starting with easy, fast-growing seeds like radishes, lettuce, cucumbers or sunflowers.
Transplants are Convenient
For busy gardeners, transplants or starter plants offer an easy solution. You can find transplants for almost any plant at your local garden center. All the hard work of germinating seeds and nurturing seedlings has been done for you. Just plant, water and watch them thrive! However, transplants tend to be more expensive, have a shorter harvest window, and limit your variety of options.
A Little of Both
My favourite approach is to start some plants from seed and buy transplants of others. This way I get the best of both worlds. I start tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and leafy greens from seed since they’re easy and cost-effective. But for crops like cabbage, eggplant or melons that require a long growing season, I opt for transplants to get a head start.
Whether you start from seed or transplant, gardening is a rewarding endeavour. Don’t be afraid to experiment – that’s part of the fun! Start with a few easy plants, learn from your experiences, and expand from there. Most importantly, enjoy being outside and nurturing your garden.
Water Wisely: Best Practices for Hydrating Your Plants
As far as gardening tips go, I’ve learned that properly hydrating your plants is one of the most important things you can do. Water is essential for photosynthesis, transportation of nutrients, and plant structure. Follow these best practices for watering your garden and your plants will thrive!
Water in the morning
Watering in the morning allows more of the water to soak into the soil before the hot sun can evaporate it. The plants have all day to absorb the moisture, so you’ll have to water less frequently. I find watering 2-3 times a week is perfect for most gardens.
Water the soil, not the leaves
Aim the water at the base of the plant, not the leaves. Getting water on the leaves can lead to disease and scorching if the sun is bright. The roots absorb the water, so focus your efforts there.
Water deeply but infrequently
When you do water, water thoroughly until the soil is soaked to a depth of at least 6 inches. This encourages the roots to grow deep into the soil. For most plants, the top 6 to 8 inches of soil should dry out between waterings. You can use a soil moisture meter to check if you’re unsure.
Consider drip irrigation
Drip irrigation and soaker hoses are great for watering gardens efficiently. They deliver water slowly at the base of plants so none is wasted. They also reduce disease by keeping leaves dry. I installed a drip system on a timer in my garden and it’s been a game changer!
Mulch your garden
Adding a layer of mulch around plants and over soil helps retain moisture in the ground. Organic mulches like compost, grass clippings, and shredded leaves are best. Aim for 2 to 3 inches of mulch around established plants. Replenish as needed to maintain coverage.
By following these useful tips, you’ll give your garden the perfect amount of water and have the healthiest, most productive plants on the block! Keep your garden well-hydrated and happy!
Mulch Matters: Why Mulch Makes a Difference
There are a lot of gardening tips that mention mulch as one of the best things you can do for your garden. As an avid gardener, I’ve learned that mulch makes a huge difference in plant health and productivity. Here are a few reasons why mulch matters:
It helps the soil retain moisture.
Mulch acts as a protective layer over the soil that helps it stay damp. This is especially important for the hot summer months when your garden needs the most water. Mulch can reduce evaporation from the soil by up to 70%!
It prevents weeds.
Mulch blocks sunlight from reaching the soil, which most weeds need to germinate. Fewer weeds mean less time spent weeding and more time enjoying your garden!
It moderates soil temperature.
Mulch keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This helps plant roots stay at an optimal temperature for growth and prevents temperature extremes that can damage plants.
It adds nutrients to the soil.
As organic mulches like compost, grass clippings, and leaves decompose, they release nutrients into the soil that your plants can use. This natural fertilizer helps your garden thrive without the need for as much additional feeding.
It gives your garden a neat, tidy appearance.
A layer of fresh mulch just makes a garden look well-kept and professional. It gives your plants a clean backdrop to shine against and pulls the whole space together.
Mulch has so many benefits, it’s really a gardener’s best friend. Next time you’re working in your garden, spread a layer of mulch around your plants and you’ll be rewarded with a healthier, more productive garden. Give mulch a try—your plants will thank you!
Weed Control: Natural and Chemical Methods
When gardening tips talk about weeds it can be all over the board and keeping weeds at bay is one of my top priorities. Here are some of the methods I’ve found most effective for natural and chemical weed control.
The simplest approach is to pull weeds by hand, including the entire root system. I do this regularly in my garden, especially after rain when the soil is loose. It’s a great form of exercise and allows me to closely inspect my plants. For larger weeds, use a weeding tool to remove them from the base.
This is gardening tips 101. Mulch acts as a physical barrier, preventing weeds from getting the light they need to sprout. I apply 2-3 inches of mulch around plants and in walkways. Organic mulches like compost, grass clippings, and straw will also enrich your soil as they decompose. Replace mulch every 1-2 years to maintain effectiveness.
This is actually one of the gardening tips I use for my patio. For weeds growing in cracks of walkways or patios, boiling water is an easy solution. Simply pour the water directly on the weeds. The extreme heat will damage the plant tissues and roots. Boiling water is a natural weed killer and will not harm the environment. You may need to reapply to fully eliminate the weed.
White vinegar contains acetic acid, which can burn and dry out weeds. I spray full-strength white vinegar on weeds, especially in areas where I don’t want to use chemical herbicides. The vinegar will kill what it contacts but will not translocate to the roots. Reapply every few days until the weeds are completely dead. Vinegar is non-toxic but may temporarily change the pH of the soil.
While manual and natural methods are my first choice, for severe weed infestations chemical herbicides may be necessary. Selective herbicides target specific weeds without harming desired plants. Non-selective herbicides kill all plants they contact, so apply them carefully. Follow all instructions and safety precautions when using chemical weed killers.
With vigilance and the proper techniques, you can win the war against weeds and cultivate a gorgeous garden. Staying on top of weeds from the start is key—it’s much harder to eliminate them once they become established! What methods do you find most useful in your garden? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.
Fertilize Appropriately: Feeding Your Garden
One of my favourite gardening tips is to properly fertilize your garden. Feeding your plants will boost their growth and help them reach their full potential.
Choose a Balanced Fertilizer
I prefer using a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (such as 10-10-10) for most of my garden. This provides the right mix of nutrients for healthy foliage and root growth. For flowering plants or fruit trees, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorus (the middle number). Always follow the directions on the product packaging for how much and how often to apply.
Time it Right
The key is to not over-fertilize, so I fertilize my garden every few weeks during the peak growing season. As growth starts to slow down in the fall, I stop feeding my garden altogether to give the plants time to harden off for winter. For lawns, I do a final fertilizing around September or October before the grass stops actively growing.
Water in Well
After spreading granular fertilizer, water your garden thoroughly to help the nutrients soak into the soil and become available for your plants. For liquid fertilizers, always dilute to at least 1/2 the recommended strength before applying. Full strength can potentially burn leaves and roots.
Watch for Deficiencies
If your plants aren’t looking their best, it could indicate a nutrient deficiency. Yellow or stunted leaves often mean a lack of nitrogen, while brown leaf spots or poor flowering can signal low phosphorus. Do a soil test to determine what’s missing and supplement with a fertilizer high in that nutrient. Addressing deficiencies early on will get your garden back to tip-top shape in no time!
Following these fertilizing tips will give your garden the balanced diet it needs to produce a bountiful harvest. Your plants will reward you for your care and feeding with their vibrant growth and beauty.
Prune for Plant Health: How and When to Prune
Pruning is one of my favourite tasks. It’s incredibly satisfying to shape plants and encourage new growth. Pruning helps plants stay healthy and productive, so it’s worth learning how and when to do it properly.
The Why Behind the Prune
Pruning removes dead or dying branches that can attract disease and pests. It also improves air circulation and sunlight exposure within the plant. Regular pruning will keep plants looking neat and tidy, which many gardeners prefer for aesthetic reasons.
Know Your Plants
Do some research on the specific pruning needs of plants before grabbing your shears. Different plants have different requirements, so you’ll want to know when and how much to prune for the best results. For example, prune flowering shrubs like lilacs and spirea right after they bloom to avoid cutting off next year’s flowers. Fruit trees often need pruning in late winter before buds open. Evergreens like yew and boxwood just need light shaping.
Sharp Tools and Proper Cuts
Invest in high-quality pruning shears and loppers – sharp tools make clean cuts that heal faster. When pruning, cut branches at their point of origin using the three-cut method: make an initial cut partway through the branch, then cut from the top down to remove the bulk of the branch, and finally make a final cut just outside the branch collar. This helps the plant compartmentalize the wound.
Don’t be Afraid to Prune!
Many gardeners are hesitant to prune for fear of harming their plants. But pruning, when done properly and at the right time, will not hurt your plants – in fact, it will invigorate them! So grab your tools and get snipping. Your garden will thank you for it.
Pruning is a skill that takes practice, but following these tips will have you pruning with confidence in no time. Your plants will reward you with healthy new growth and abundant blooms and fruit. What gardener wouldn’t love that?
Pay close attention to how much sunlight different plants need
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as an avid gardener is to pay extremely close attention to how much sunlight my plants need. Getting the right amount of light is crucial for any plant to thrive!
Do your research
Before buying any new plant, I always look up how much sun it needs. Some plants like full sun, meaning 6+ hours of direct light per day. Others prefer part sun or part shade, around 3 to 6 hours. And some plants, like hostas, actually do well in full shade. Knowing a plant’s light needs ahead of time will save you a lot of frustration later on.
Observe how the sun moves over your garden
The amount of sunlight in your garden changes based on the time of day and the season. I like to spend time observing how the sun moves over my garden so I know the sunniest and shadiest spots. That way I can choose the perfect place to plant new additions. You should also note if any trees or buildings will be casting shade at different times.
Move plants if needed
Don’t be afraid to move plants if they aren’t getting enough sun after planting them. I’ve had to do this many times! Look for signs your plant isn’t thriving like slow growth, lack of flowers or fruit, or pale leaves. If it’s not too late, move the plant to a sunnier spot and it should recover well. The sooner you catch the lack of sun, the better.
Consider using shade cloth
For plants that need part shade, I often use shade cloth or netting to manipulate the amount of sun. You can find shade cloth that blocks 50-95% of the sun and simply drape it over a plant. This is an easy solution if you have a spot that’s slightly too sunny. Just be sure to remove the shade cloth once the sun intensity decreases later in the day.
By carefully considering how much sun each of your plants needs and making adjustments as needed, you’ll have the healthiest, happiest garden possible! Paying attention to sunlight has made all the difference for me as a gardener.
Pest Prevention: Organic Solutions for Common Garden Pests
Keeping my garden pest-free in an organic and eco-friendly way is a top priority. Over the years, I’ve discovered some invaluable tips and tricks to prevent common garden pests without resorting to harsh chemicals.
Certain plants naturally repel pests when planted together. For example, planting rosemary, catnip, lavender or chives near your vegetables will deter aphids, spider mites and flea beetles. The strong scent confuses and repels these unwanted visitors. Intercropping with plants like marigolds also works wonders, as their roots emit a chemical that deters nematodes in the soil.
For minor infestations of soft-bodied insects like aphids or spider mites, insecticidal soap is very effective. It contains fatty acids that penetrate the insects’ cell membranes, dehydrating and killing them on contact. I like to have a spray bottle on hand to spot-treat any areas where I see these pests gathering. Be sure to spray both the tops and undersides of the leaves to get them all!
Derived from the neem tree, neem oil is a natural insect repellent and growth inhibitor. It prevents common sucking and chewing insects from feeding on your plants and also disrupts their growth cycles. I use neem oil as both a foliar spray and soil drench, especially in the early spring before pests become active. The strong smell deters pests for up to a week after application.
For larger pests like tomato hornworms, Colorado potato beetles or squash bugs, hand removal is the most effective method. I do regular inspections of my vegetable garden, especially under leaves, and simply pick off any pests I find and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. It’s very satisfying to work and natural pest control at its best!
With some vigilance and these organic pest prevention tips, you’ll be well on your way to a lush, thriving garden without the use of harsh chemicals.
After reading these top 10 gardening tips from a (self-proclaimed) expert, you should feel inspired and equipped to start your own garden or improve your existing one. Gardening provides so many benefits – fresh air, exercise, homegrown food, and a chance to connect with nature. I hope these secrets from a master gardener have convinced you to get outside and get your hands dirty.
You’ll be amazed at how rewarding it feels to nurture your garden and watch it blossom and thrive. Gardening is a skill that takes time to develop but start with these fundamentals and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a gardening guru yourself. Now if you’ll excuse me, my garden is calling – I’ve got weeds to pull, veggies to harvest, and memories to make. Happy gardening!