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A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

When we moved into our house I knew thismuch about gardening.

After 4 years, I’d say that now I know *thismuch*.

Definitely an improvement, but still a long way to go.

Why did it take 4 years to learn so little about gardening? In short, I worked alot and spent what DIY time was available on the interior of our home.

But, I was also trying to “get to know our yard” {true story}. When we moved in there was some pretty shrubs, tall flowering plants and hostas. I actually thought several were quite pretty when they were blooming. But, I just didn’t know what they were or how to take care of them.

They also were laid out in more of a “cottage” garden style — and while I think those gardens are lovely to look at it — it’s just not easy for a beginner like me to maintain.

And just to be clear — my flowers didn’t look one bit like the photo above. If they had looked like that beauty of a garden, I’d be learning how to take care of a cottage-style garden.

Instead it was just some tall plants and shrubs, mushed together in a tangled mess. A prime snake-hiding spot as far as I was concerned.

Beginner Gardening Tip #1: Start with what you know.

So after 4 years of trying to “get to know our yard”, we just tore ’em all out to start over. I needed plants that came with instructions.


And here is where we are now!

You can see we left the hostas and a few shrubs as well.

Beginner Gardening Tip #2: Take the time to prepare your soil for planting.

I did a little research and found out that I should do a little more than just pop the plants in the ground (shocking, I know). It took a couple afternoons but I worked up all the dirt with a shovel and spread a couple layers of compost and topsoil.

Once all the plants were snug in the ground, we covered it with plenty of mulch to keep the soil moist and all the nasty weeds away.

Beginner Gardening Tip #3: Choose the right plants for your yard and maintenance level.

We decided to go on and pay the $$ for perennials instead of annuals. If you haven’t gathered yet — I’m a low maintenance gardening type of gal. Picking out new plants every year and replanting them doesn’t sound like tons of fun.

Plus, I think it’s kind of exciting to see a plant grow from year to year. I’ve had this Silver Mound for 3 years (it was the one of the first perennials I ever bought). It grows into a beast by the end of the summer and it’s soooo pretty and soft.

Most of our flower bed is shade or partial shade which seems to limit the plant choices, but I tried my best to pick out a variety of colors and shapes from what was available.

One mistake I had made in my first perennial purchase was not paying attention to how much sun the plant would be getting (or remembering to water it for that matter). Let’s just say that my Silver Mound was the only one that made it out alive.

I can’t wait to watch everything start to fill in.

But, there is one minor step to seeing that happen — actually keeping the plants alive.

Beginner Gardening Tip #4: Keep the plant care instructions handy.

You can ask Mike or my mom; I am not known for my green thumb. I work as an engineer, so I can be a little nerdy when it comes to projects. For my flower beds, I drew up this little cheat sheet:

Yep, told you I can be a nerd. What until you see the back:

But here’s the deal. It’s not something I’m going to refer to every day or anything. I’ll use it as a reference. If I see a plant starting to look a little wimpy, I have a quick place to check:

  • Am I watering it too much?
  • Am I not watering it enough?
  • Is it getting too much sun?
  • Should it be fertilized?
  • Does it need pruning?
  • etc.

And now I have this cute little sketch to start with next year and plan any 2014 additions!

Is it a foolproof plan? Probably not. Still, I am cautiously optimistic that we won’t see any plant casualties this year.

Are you a beginner or an expert? What gardening tips can you share?

10+ Spring Project Ideas for the Exterior of your Home – Craftivity Designs

Thursday 29th of April 2021

[…] the next week or two, I’ll be pulling out my Gardening Cheat Sheet from our last home {I left a copy with the new homeowners and kept the original for myself} to use […]

Rock Hudson

Friday 21st of August 2015

Nobody can reject the info you have given in the blogs, this is actually a great work.The Tree Center

Craftivity Designs

Tuesday 17th of March 2015

Your welcome & thanks for the nice comment!


Tuesday 17th of March 2015

Impressive write-up. Amazing guidance you have provided for the newbie gardeners. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge.

Craftivity Designs

Sunday 16th of June 2013

Thanks, Tegan! Glad to know it was helpful :)