Do the spring seed catalogs and plant displays have you chomping at the bit to create a gorgeous, lush garden? Many first-time gardeners start their gardens with great enthusiasm and lose interest part way through the growing season. It’s not that they have brown thumbs, it’s just that they didn’t have the experience to plan their garden. Here are some tips to help you become a happy, life-long gardener.

Start Small

An enthusiastic, ambitious start in gardening easily becomes a daunting chore by mid-summer. Keeping expectations to reasonable levels will help the habit grow easily and naturally. 100 square feet is plenty of space for the beginning gardener, and less would be fine, unless you’re planning on having plants that need lots of room or very little care.

Select Your Spot, Even A Pot

Typically, you’ll want a fairly sunny spot with good drainage, depending on what you intend to plant. If you choose to use a spot of yard that turns into a bog with every heavy rain, you may want to choose plants that will thrive there. If a well-drained area is simply not available, installing a French Drain is an option.

You can either pick the location of your garden and put in plants that favor those conditions, or pick the plants that you want and choose the garden plot to match the conditions that they like.

If you don’t have any garden plot available, container gardens are an option. Flower pots, window boxes, or salvaged containers, there is a wealth of ideas on the web for container gardening.

Suss Out the Soil

Your county and State University agricultural departments may offer inexpensive soil-testing services, and there are inexpensive test kits at most gardening supply shops to test your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. You may need to add something to adjust your soil to proper levels for your plants, and compost or manure are likely to be a good idea.

You Can Even Start Early

If you’re eager to get started, but it’s still snowing outside, take a tip from many experienced gardeners. Start your seeds inside, and transplant them when others are planting their seeds.
Flowers or Vegetables? Why Not Both?

Flowers are beautiful and smell pretty, garden-fresh vegetables are delicious, and there’s no rule that says your garden must be one or the other. In fact, many vegetable gardeners put in a border of marigolds to keep rabbits at bay.

If you’re planting mostly flowers, try to choose a selection that blooms at various times of the year, so you’ll have some flowers throughout the growing season.

If you’re planting for produce, plant what you’ll want to eat. Everyone has heard the jokes about the gardener who leaves bags of zucchini on the steps of a stranger’s house, just to give their overproduction a home. Zucchini is easy to grow, but something that you’ll want to eat is a better choice.

Don’t forget berries. Raspberry or strawberry patches in shady corners make delicious perennials, if they suit your climate and your taste buds.