How to Start a Garden: A Beginner's Guide

Jun 19, 2020 2 min read

Are you looking to start growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs? This beginner’s guide to gardening can help you plan your space, choose your plants and start growing. Here are tips on how to start gardening.

Decide What to Grow

Obviously the first rule of deciding what to grow is to pick what you like. You’ll also want to do some light research to confirm what grows best in your area. You can do your research online or reach out to other successful gardeners to get advice.

Scout a Location

Most fruits and vegetables need full sun with a minimum of five hours of direct sunlight each day. Greens, herbs and root veggies can grow in partial shade. You’ll also want to consider what you want to grow. There are plenty of plants that will grow in small spaces, but if you want to focus on large vegetables like pumpkins, you’re going to need more space.

Also consider how close your garden will be for picking, watering and caring. If it’s too far away, it’s easier to forget. Avoiding high wind areas and areas where frost could settle should also be considered.

And before you get started planting a garden, consider wildlife, pet damage and children’s play areas as well.

Plan Your Beds

Once you’ve found your location, next you’ll decide the type and size of the garden beds you’d like. Raised beds make things easier when planting a garden, but they can also dry out more quickly. Consider planting your garden in blocks or beds instead of rows. The goal is to minimize walkways and maximize growing space.

Get Basic Garden Tools

Having the right tools can keep gardening a pleasure instead of a chore. Think about adding these tools to your gardening toolbelt.

  • Garden hoe
  • Rake
  • Garden shovel
  • Hand tools

Although it’s tempting for beginning gardeners, try to avoid buying cheap plastic tools if you can. Having good tools will save time and effort.

Prepare Your Soil

You’ll want to test your soil before planting. Most garden crops will prefer soil with a pH around 7. Balanced nutrient levels are important. 

Most plants prefer a deep, well-drained, fertile soil rich in organic matter. After you get started, your healthy soil will improve year after year. If you have healthy, vibrant soil, you’ll have healthy, vibrant plants.

Start Planting

Most seed packets or transplant containers come with basic planting instructions. If yours don’t include directions, here are some rules of thumb.

  • Plant seeds roughly three times as deep as the diameter of the seed
  • Most transplants are planted at the same depth they were growing in the pot. The exception is tomatoes, which can be planted deeper or trenched in.
  • If you have heat-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers, make sure the danger of frost has passed before planting.

Give the Right Amount of Water

A rule of thumb for watering is that plants need around an inch of water per week while they’re growing. But remember, overwatering is as bad as underwatering. Always check your soil before watering.

Bugs are attracted to stressed or deficient plants. If your plants are healthy, bugs shouldn’t be too much of a problem.


Time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Flavor is typically at a peak after the morning dew has cleared, but before the afternoon heat has settled. It’s your garden so you can sample and decide what time tastes best to you.

Gardening is hard work and it may take more than one season to get it right. Be patient and enjoy the lessons as you learn them.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.