Gardening Basics: Key Things Every Beginner Gardener Should Know

Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Lifevif Team and JC Franco

As a newbie to gardening, you are probably keen to gather any tips and tricks to help you get your garden thriving in the shortest space of time possible. Today I am going to share with you what I wish I knew when I first started gardening. 

Right now, my garden is a thriving oasis. It is flourishing with flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees, but it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, I made a multitude of gardening faux pas that caused a delay in the progress of my garden, cost me money, and ran interference with my eagerness and enthusiasm. There’s absolutely no reason why you have to suffer the same challenges I had to. You can learn from my mistakes. 

So, if you want to learn about the gardening tips and tricks I have to share with you, read on and find out how they can help you boost your garden in the shortest space of time possible. 

Get your garden thriving with these 20 helpful tips and tricks: 

1. Document everything.

When you first start out, you think you will remember everything, but you won’t. Make a note of which seeds you planted where and when. Document their progress and how they react to certain conditions. Note which plants are responding extremely well and what their growing conditions are. All of this will help you to avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future and also ensure that you know precisely how certain plants like to be treated in order to thrive. 

2. Get the right tools.

Don’t try gardening without any tools. You will need to get the basics in order to get started. These include a hand trowel, spade, hose pipe or watering can (or both), secateurs, rake, wheelbarrow, gloves, pruners, and so on. 

3. Have a garden design in mind before you start.

There are free apps online that you can use to design a garden space. This will help you to choose the right place and position them ideally. If you just plant plants randomly, you may find that it eventually looks cluttered or messy. 

4. Research each plant’s water and light requirements.

Not all plants have the same water and light requirements. Research your plants so that you can position them in the correct part of the garden. You can even group them according to their water and lighting needs. 

5. Invest in a bee house/mansion.

Bees are great for pollinating plants, so you actually want them in your garden. You can attract bees by offering them great real estate in the form of a bee house or mansion. 

6. Store hand tools in sand and mineral soil.

By creating a solution of sand and mineral soil and plunging your tools into the solution at the end of each day, rust will be kept at bay, and the tools will be kept both clean and ultra-sharp. 

7. Plant at the right time.

If you are planning summer plants in the cool time, you aren’t going to experience much joy with your plants. Even if your plants do sprout, they may be weak and produce little to no yield. 

8. Investigate your garden’s soil and adjust it accordingly.

There’s no guarantee that your garden has the ideal soil. Check what type of soil you have and adjust its value accordingly. You may need to introduce organic matter to spruce it up and prepare it for planting. There are tests you can do on your soil to see what it needs. 

9. Avoid letting your herbs flower if you wish to eat them.

If given the opportunity, your herb plants will flower. If you plan to eat your herbs, you should snip off the top of the plant where it will flower from. If the plant flowers instead of just producing leaves, the herbs will taste slightly different than expected. 

10. Start out with square foot gardening first.

Square foot gardening lets you grow more in less space. It involves dividing the growing area into small 1 square foot sections. This helps with creating and managing a vegetable or herb patch that allows for high yields in a small area. If you do well in a small, managed space, you can think about moving on to a bigger area. 

11. Lubricate your shovels, trowels, and spades.

You can keep rust at bay by lubricating your shovels, trowels, spades, and other tools with vegetable oil. You should also consider spraying these tools with a food-grade silicone to ensure that no dirty sticks to the tools and to ensure that the moving parts never cease. 

12. Lighten up your planter pots.

If you simply fill your plant’s pots with soil, they may become too heavy to move around. You can keep your planters light by adding packaging peanuts to the pot. First, put a layer of packaging peanuts in (about one quarter to half the pot) and then fill the rest up with your potting soil. 

13. Give plants enough space.

If you want your plants to thrive and grow strong, it is important to give them space. If you plant them too close, chances are that they won’t get as big and strong as they could.

14. Start off with “easy” plants.

Some plants are more complicated to grow than others. If you don’t want to become despondent too quickly, focus on growing easy plants first. Some easy plants to consider include: vegetables, sunflowers, and ferns. Indigenous plants are also a good option. 

15. Rotate your growing plots.

You should avoid growing the same vegetables and herbs in the same plot of ground for more than 2 years in a row. Keep rotating the plants into different plots to ensure that the soil isn’t baron of essential nutrients. 

16. Invest in companion planting.

I didn’t know this when I first started gardening, but companion planting is a method of grouping plants according to how they can help each other. Some plants just grow better together. And some plants manage to deter the pests that typically take advantage of other plants. For instance, it is a good idea to group tomatoes with cabbages as the tomato plant repels the caterpillars that typically target cabbages. Much the same, onions are a deterrent for most pests. 

Take the time to look into companion planting – it could eliminate a few possible problems in your garden space. 

17. Always snip herb leaves – never tear them off. 

If you simply tear leaves off of a herb plant, it will take a shock. Simply use a sharp pair of scissors to snip the leaves off, which will encourage the plant to grow more. Always leave three or four leaves on the plant to encourage it to grow more. 

18. Water the garden in the early morning.

You want to soak the roots when you water the garden. Unfortunately, if you water the garden during the heat of the day, the sun will evaporate all of the water, leaving the plant thirsty. 

19. Have a set garden maintenance schedule.

It was easy for me to forget to do certain things in the garden when I first started out because I wasn’t used to tending a garden. As I progressed, I learned the value of having a schedule. I set 2 days aside per week to spend some time in the garden, weeding, pruning, and generally caring for my plants. 

20. Choose organic and natural pest control over chemicals.

Remember that pesticides and herbicides can mean certain death for other creatures. If you care about the environment, it is important to use pest control methods that don’t poison other creatures or soak into the soil and the water below. 

Last Word

I find that the above tips and tricks are most helpful to beginner gardeners. And I certainly wish that I knew them when I was first starting out. With the right attention to detail and planning, there is every reason to believe that your new garden will be a flourishing, thriving success. 

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who share their experiences and knowledge about the "Seven F's of Life".

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco is a New York-based editor for Lifevif. He covers topics like spirituality, philosophy, finance, sports, games, and food. JC earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a Marketing Concentration at Mercyhurst University. He is a certified USPTA professional who teaches tennis in the New York City Metropolitan area. He has passed the Level I exam of the CFA program.