Gardening
8 Steps to Starting a Backyard Garden

By

Kai Magsanoc

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Gardening
Flowers That Attract Pollinators

By

Kai Magsanoc

February 7, 2021

Here is everything you need to know to get started on your dream garden.

It always seems impossible until it’s done, as they say. If you dream of becoming your very own gardener or if you aspire to become a farmer, your backyard is a great place to start. If you are blessed with backyard space — no matter how small — consider yourself lucky. Not many people have or can afford that nowadays.

So make your backyard more than just a place to have your family barbecue. Turn it into a vital part of your life by enabling it to produce food for you and your family. It is not only good for the body (by giving you a form of physical activity or exercise), it is also good for the mind. This is important no matter how the pandemic has hit you.

It is about food supply. It is something you can eventually teach others once you have learned how to do it yourself. It is about opening a possible new income stream. It is about doing what you can to save the planet. It is about strengthening the soil against typhoons and floods. It is about teaching your family to eat more healthily.

It is a small step that can lead to great things.

1. Decide what you plant to plant

Do you want to plant fruits, vegetables, or flowers? Planting flowers is a win-win, because there are edible types that can make your garden look beautiful at the same time.

If you are choosing between what fruits or vegetables to plant, consider:

  • What your family loves to eat
  • How much space you have
  • If you are planting for personal consumption or commercial sale

2. Choose the location of your garden with great care

Fruits and vegetables need to be under direct sunlight, with at least 5 hours of full sun, according to Common Sense Home. Greens, herbs, and root crops only require partial shade. (The same is true for flowers: some require direct sunlight while others don't. It’s important to do your research.)

Here are questions to ask yourself when deciding where to create your garden:

  • Do I get to see it every day so that I can be reminded to water the plants?
  • If we have pets, will it be a space that our dogs might disturb and play in?
  • If we don’t have pets, will it be accessible to wildlife around our home?

3. Plan where you will plant according to your space

Raised plant beds are more common and may make it easier for you to tend to your plants. In areas with drier weather, though, sunken garden beds are better as they help absorb moisture from the ground.

If you don’t have enough space for garden beds, you can go for a vertical garden or container garden. Remember that there is no hard and fast rule to the shape of your garden beds. Make them circular or heart shaped if those inspire you.

4. Put your money in great garden tools

You may be tempted to not invest in this and use your kitchen tools instead. But this is like being a doctor performing surgery without the proper tools. Using the proper tools for your garden shows respect for the soil and your plants.

What are the basic gardening equipment to have? According to Common Sense Home, they are:

  • Garden hoe
  • Scuffle hoe
  • Dirt rake
  • Leaf rake
  • Garden Shovel or D handle Shovel
  • Hand tools
  • Gardening gloves to protect your hands

5. Determine the quality of your soil

How healthy is your soil for the plants you want to put in it? Different plants thrive in different soil conditions. More experienced gardeners can tell the quality of their soil just by looking at it; others need the help of professionals.

If you need help with testing the quality of your soil, find someone who can help at Scaped.com.

Questions to ask according to Common Sense Home are:

  • Is my soil acidic, alkaline, or does it have neutral pH?
  • Does my soil have sand, clay, silt, rocks, or all four?
  • Is there a risk of soil contamination?
  • Does my soil have a good amount of basic nutrients?

6. Prepare and work your soil

Once you have identified your soil health and have addressed initial issues, it’s time to prepare and then work it. Preparing your soil means making sure it is fertile enough to grow healthy plants. The more fertile the soil is, the healthier the plants you will grow and the produce that you will yield.

According to Better Homes & Gardens, the way to make soil more fertile is to add organic matter: “Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost, decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, or old manure to the soil when you dig or till a new bed.” Don’t feel like digging? Place the organic matter on top of your soil where it will eventually rot.

Working the soil is done by tilling or digging: Tilling means to prepare or to cultivate the land for crops Digging means to break up or move earth with your hands, a tool, or machine

Remember than when cultivating and tending a garden, it is important not to overdo things, especially when it comes to tilling and digging. Contact professionals at Scaped.com who can help you with these.

7. Now plant!

Some people turn to YouTube to learn what to plant. Others go to their local garden and choose plants that capture their eyes and heart. These are okay. But if you want to make sure your plants will grow and thrive, consider your area’s climate, soil, and sunlight.

Better Homes & Gardens suggests the following plants for beginners:

  • Annuals: Calendula, cosmos, geraniums, impatiens, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias
  • Perennials: Black-eyed Susans, daylilies, lamb's ears, pansies, phlox, purple coneflowers, and Russian sage
  • Vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes

Annual plants are defined by Britannica as “any plant that completes its life cycle in a single growing season.” Perennial plants are “plants that persist for several years, usually with new herbaceous growth from a part that survives from season to season.”

8. Learn the proper way to water your plants

Different plants require a different frequency of watering at different stages of life.

Seedlings need to be watered daily. Transplanted plants need to be watered every other day, or depending on the plant you have. Once the seedlings have grown bigger, the frequency of you watering them will depend on the quality of your soil, the amount of humidity in the air, and the amount of rainfall (especially if they are not shaded).

There is such a thing as root rot when roots rot from overwatering, which will then cause your plants to die. Your safest bet is to water once a week. That is the bare minimum.

Here’s an exercise to determine if your soil is still wet or already needs watering:

  • Feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface
  • If it feels dry, it’s time to water
  • Water slowly and deeply, so the water soaks in instead of running off
  • To minimize evaporation, water in the early morning

(Source: Better Homes & Gardens)

Becoming a successful gardener entails commitment and patience. Include your gardening chores in your daily routine. Stop the growth of weeds before they take over by pulling them out as soon as they appear. Remove dead, dying, or sick vegetation. Protect your plants from pests and insects (read about plants that repel insects here).

If you need any help with planning, starting, and completing your backyard garden, you’ll find the best, most reliable professionals at Scaped.com. Sign up today. It’s free!

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