Start a Garden Guide

If you’ve set yourself to be among millions of Americans that like gardening, you are most likely looking for ways to start your own garden. It’s a great way to get some exercise, beautify your yard and even save money on groceries. But starting a garden can be daunting, especially if you have never done it before. This guide will give you all the information you need to get started so that you can enjoy all the benefits of gardening.

To give you an idea that you are indeed not alone in the journey to start your own backyard garden, below are some stats about gardening in the US. I obtained the stats from yourgreenpal website.

  • 37% of US households have a garden – this is about 43 million individuals (2009 data)
  • Gardens distribution in the US is fairly equal when the West, Midwest, South ,and Northeast regions are compared. The South and the Midwest leads in the number of households with gardens.
  • The average food garden size is 600 square feet.
  • And that’s not all. American gardeners are educated. In fact over an estimated 79% of gardeners have college or graduate degrees.
  • 54% of American gardeners are female
  • Age-wise, 68% of American home gardeners are 45 and older.

The infographic below is an easy-to-understand stats guide on gardening stats.

My journey to gardening started when I was barely a teen. I grew up in Idaho and while gardening there is dwarfed by large-scale potato farming, my parents were very dedicated to get us to like gardening as they are garden-huggers..or should I say ‘veggie-huggers’.

That would not suffice though as they planted more than veggies..There were herbs, berries, and flowers. I remember helping my dad build a small fence around the garden one summer. It was made of thin planks of wood and chicken wire. We used staples to put it all together. And then we painted it white. It looked great when we were done.

Today, as an adult, I have my own garden. I live in California now, in the Bay Area to be exact, and gardening here is different than it was back in Idaho. The climate is different for starters.

We barely get any rain here and in fact, a good portion of my county now relies on truck water delivered by vendors as the City piped water dried out this past summer. The Summer 2022 Drought accompanied by extreme temperatures has been linked to adverse effects of Climate change.

The State is now providing water assistance – the way you would expect any other state benefits such as Unemployment.

As of September 2022, the majority of California’s state reservoirs are 50% depleted as shown in the image below.

Image source: California Department of Water Resources

In contrast, Idaho is situated in the rain shadow of mountains to the west of Washington and Oregon. Only the higher elevations receive adequate amounts of precipitation. My family happens to come from the rainy highlands located about 50 minutes from Boise.

What are the benefits of starting a garden?

There are many benefits to starting a garden, including:

– Improved mental and physical health

– Increased sense of accomplishment

– Fresh air and Vitamin D

– Relaxation and stress relief

– Improved nutrition

– Exercise

Factors to Consider about starting a garden:

I have created this guide with beginner, intermediate, and advanced gardeners in mind so that it can be useful for everyone.

Below are the key sub-topics we’ll cover:

  1. Can I start a garden now?
  2. start garden from scratch
  3. What do I need to start a garden?
  4. Which months to start a garden. Which seasons – fall, spring or summer?
  5. A garden indoors vs outdoors
  6. Utilizing your backyard by having a garden
  7. Using containers at home for your garden
  8. Garden seeds – where to get and what to consider
  9. Starting a garden in 4 US regions; Northeast, South, Midwest, West. Each region will cover States in that regions. For example, Northeast region guide will cover starting a garden guide for States such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusets, Maine, Vermont, PA, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.
  10. Tips for starting a garden for beginners

Can I start a garden now?

If you want to have an outdoor garden, the seasonal weather patterns may prohibit you from doing so during the winter. However, you can start your indoor garden any time, regardless of how cold it is outside.

You’ll find several crops that fit most months of the year and any of the four seasons. Just make sure you make appropriate adjustments to ensure weather conditions are favorable when you decide to plant your crop in the garden.

Guide to Starting a garden from Scratch:

If you’ve never had any experience using a hoe, trowel, or any other gardening tools, then starting a garden from scratch may be a bit daunting. Below are helpful steps to follow to start a garden;

Deciding what to plant:

Hobbyists or professional growers often have different goals when deciding what to plant. If you’re a hobbyist, you may be more interested in growing plants that are visually appealing or uniquely shaped. On the other hand, professionals are more likely to look for plants that will produce high yields or have a short turnaround time. It’s important to figure out what your goals are before you start planting so that you can choose the right plants.

Some other factors to consider when deciding what to plant include;

  • your climate, the amount of sunlight your garden gets,
  • the type of soil you have,
  • and the amount of space you have.

Plan and set up your garden:

Heed the old adage “measure twice, cut once.” You’ll want to take careful measurements of your garden space and map it out before you start planting. This will help you avoid accidentally placing plants too close together or in an area that gets too much or too little sunlight.

Factors such as plant layout, sun exposure, and what you enjoy eating should all be taken into account when creating a garden design.

Some recent garden designs recommend vegetable and flower gardens to be located in a place with full sunlight and suitable soil. Wood and garbage storage areas should be accessible, but out of view.

What do I need to start a garden?

Once you’ve mapped out your garden, you’ll need the basic gardening tools and items below to get started:

  • -A spade or hoe for digging
  • -A trowel for planting
  • -A watering can or hose with a spray nozzle
  • -Gardening gloves
  • -A wheelbarrow or garden cart (optional)
  • – Seeds, seedlings, or bulbs of your chosen plants
  • -Compost or manure
  • -Mulch (optional)

If you want to start a small herb or vegetable garden, you can find all the necessary supplies at your local hardware or home improvement store. Larger gardens may require more specialized tools, which can be found at gardening centers or online.

Which months to start a garden?

According to Erin Witz, a gardening expert Familyhandyman interviewed, the best time of year to till the ground and enrich it with organic matter like compost or manure is late summer or early fall. This is because “the cold winter months provide ample time for the organic matter to break down and mingle with the dirt.”

The best time to start seeds indoors is about two months before the last average frost date in your area. Check with your local cooperative extension office for the average last frost date in your area.

Transplanting seedlings outdoors should be done after the last average frost date has passed. Again, check with your local cooperative extension office for this date.

If you are starting your garden in fall and will still have your crops standing by Wintertime, consider the crops below are they do well in cold weather;

  • Radishes;
  • Lettuce;
  • Spinach;
  • Swiss chard;
  • Broccoli;
  • Peas.

There is a danger in preparing your garden too early – perhaps too may weeks before you actually plan to plant.

Preparing the ground

You’ll need to break up the soil in your garden so that it’s loose and easy to plant in. This process is called “tilling.” You can do this by hand with a gardening fork or spade. If you have a lot of ground to cover, you may want to rent a tiller from a gardening store.

Can I start a garden in the fall, winter, summer or spring?

You can plant radishes, spinach and lettuce as late as September, but other vegetables like carrots, cabbage and broccoli need a couple of months to mature.

In the Winter, you can still grow some vegetables like kale, turnips and radishes. By starting your garden in late summer or early fall, you’ll have a head start on the growing season.

The Spring is the best time to start most vegetables from seed. By planting in the spring, you’ll have a longer growing season and a bigger harvest.

In the summer, you can plant vegetables that mature quickly, like radishes, lettuce and spinach. You can also plant crops that take longer to mature, like carrots, cabbage and broccoli.

What type of garden should I start?

There are many different types of gardens you can start, but here are a few of the most popular:

  • Vegetable garden: A vegetable garden is a great way to get fresh, healthy produce right in your own backyard. You can grow just about any type of vegetable in a garden, but some common ones include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and beans.
  • Herb garden: An herb garden is a great way to add flavor to your cooking. Some common herbs that are grown in gardens include basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Flower garden: A flower garden is a great way to add color and beauty to your yard. You can grow just about any type of flower in a garden, but some common ones include roses, daisies, and tulips.
  • Fruit garden: A fruit garden is a great way to get fresh, delicious fruit right in your own backyard. You can grow just about any type of fruit in a garden, but some common ones include strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.

Indoors vs outdoor garden – which one to have?

This really depends on your personal preferences and what type of plants you want to grow. If you want to grow vegetables, then an outdoor garden is probably the best option. If you want to grow flowers or herbs, then either an indoor or outdoor garden would work well.


How do I choose the right location for my garden?

There are a few things to consider when choosing a location for your garden:

  • Sunlight: Most plants need at least six hours of sunlight per day, so choose a spot in your yard that gets plenty of sun.
  • Soil: The soil in your garden should be loose and easy to work with. If the soil in your yard is compacted or full of clay, you may want to consider starting a raised bed garden
  • Water: Make sure the location you choose for your garden has easy access to water. You will need to water your plants regularly, so you don’t want to have to lug a watering can or hose across your yard

Now that you know a little bit more about starting a garden, it’s time to get out there and start planting!

How to effectively utilize your backyard as a garden:

If you have a wasted or empty soil-filled yard space, you can utilize it by setting up your home garden or can even commercialize it and make money. Below are key ways to transform your yard into a thriving garden;

  1. Create a vertical garden:. One way to make the most of a small space is to create a vertical garden. Vertical gardens are great for small yards because they take up less ground space. You can create a vertical garden by hanging baskets filled with plants or by building a trellis or lattice for your plants to climb.
  2. Another way to save space in Choose the right plants: Not all plants are suitable for small spaces. When choosing plants for a small garden, look for ones that are compact, have a small root system, and don’t mind being crowded. Some great plants for small gardens include impatiens, petunias, and marigolds.
  3. Use raised beds: Raised beds are a great way to make the most of a small space. They allow you to grow more plants in less space and they make it easier to keep your plants healthy and free from weeds.
  4. Set up container garden: If you don’t have any space for a traditional garden, you can set up a container garden. Container gardens are great for small spaces because they can be placed on patios, balconies, and even rooftops. When choosing containers for your garden, make sure they have drainage holes in the bottom so the plants don’t get waterlogged.
  5. Start a windowsill garden: If you don’t have any outdoor space for a garden, you can start a windowsill garden. Windowsill gardens are perfect for small spaces because they can be grown on any windowsill, large or small.
  6. Plant an herb or living wall: Herbs are perfect for small spaces because they don’t take up much room and they provide a lot of flavor. You can grow herbs in pots or in the ground, and you can even create a living herb wall by planting herbs in a vertical planter. No matter how small your space is, you can start a garden!

Now get the seeds:

Once you decide on the type of garden to set up and the crop you want to plant, you need to get your hands on the seeds. Go for breeder-certified seeds as they are guaranteed to germinate and grow into healthy plants.

You can either buy them from a garden center or online. Local hardware stores also sell seeds, but their selection is usually limited.

If you want to save money, you can try to get seeds from last year’s crop. Just make sure they are fresh and have been stored properly.

Prepare the soil:

The next step is to prepare the soil for planting. This involves loosening up the soil, adding compost or manure, and testing the pH level.

If you’re growing plants in pots, you can skip this step and just use potting mix.

Plant the seeds:

Once the soil is ready, it’s time to plant the seeds. Check the seed packet for instructions on how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart to space them.

If you’re planting in pots, make sure you use a pot that’s big enough for the plant to grow.

Starting a garden in the Northeast US:

22% of all gardening households in the US reside in the Northeastern States – New York, New Jerseys, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, among others.

This region has a diverse climate, with warm summers and cold winters. The growing season is shorter than in other parts of the country, so it’s important to choose plants that can tolerate the colder temperatures.

Some great plants for the Northeast include tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.

Starting a garden in the Midwest:

The first frost in Michigan and other Midwest states typically happens in spring, making Memorial Day an ideal time to plant. Then, sow your seedlings or transplants from mid-to-late May, shielding them if nighttime temperatures drop below 40 degrees. Follow this calendar guide prepared by the University of Michigan.

Beginner tips to start a garden:

1. Pick the right location: The first step to starting a garden is finding the right location. You need to choose a spot that gets plenty of sunlight and has well-drained soil. If you have a small yard, you can create a garden in containers or raised beds.

2. Choose the right plants: Not all plants are created equal. When choosing plants for your garden, make sure to pick ones that are well-suited for your climate and soil type. You should also consider the amount of space you have available.

3. Prepare the soil: Once you’ve chosen a location and plants, it’s time to prepare the soil. This involves loosening up the soil, adding compost or manure, and testing the pH level.

4. Plant the seeds: Once the soil is ready, it’s time to plant the seeds. Check the seed packet for instructions on how deep to plant the seeds and how far apart to space them.

5. Water regularly: One of the most important things to remember when starting a garden is to water your plants regularly. Depending on the climate and type of plants you’re growing, you may need to water every day or just a few times a week.

6. fertilize: Fertilizing your plants will help them grow strong and healthy. You can use organic fertilizer or chemical fertilizer, depending on your preference.

7. weed regularly: Weeds can compete with your plants for water and nutrients, so it’s important to remove them when you see them. The best way to do this is to pull them up by the roots.

8. harvest: After all your hard work, it’s finally time to harvest your plants! Make sure to check the maturity date on the seed packet so you know when the plants are ready to be picked.

9. enjoy: sit back and enjoy your beautiful garden!


Is gardening fun?

Gardening can be a fun and rewarding hobby. It’s a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Gardening also allows you to grow your own food or flowers, which can save you money.

What are the benefits of gardening?

In addition to being a fun activity, gardening has many benefits. Gardening can improve your mental and physical health, save you money, and help the environment.

How much does it cost to start a garden?

The cost of starting a garden varies depending on the size of the garden and the type of plants you choose. You may need to purchase some gardening tools, soil, mulch, and fertilizer. You can also start a garden for free by using seeds or plants from friends or family.

It’s not unusual to spend a lot of money on gardening in the early years, when you’re establishing the garden’s infrastructure. Buying many of the necessary supplies and equipment might set you back more than $1,000 per year! However it would be nearly impossible to produce $1,000 worth of food in those first few years.

How much time does gardening take?

The amount of time it takes to garden depends on the size of the garden and the type of plants you are growing. Some gardens only need to be watered once a week, while others may need daily attention. weeding, fertilizing, and harvesting can also add to the amount of time you spend gardening.

In general, it is recommended that you spend at least 30 minutes per day gardening. This will give you enough time to water your plants, pull weeds, and check for pests.

What are some common problems with gardens?

One of the most common problems with gardens is pests. Insects, rabbits, and deer can all damage your plants. Another common problem is diseases, which can be caused by fungi, bacteria, or viruses. Gardeners also have to deal with weeds, which can compete with your plants for water and nutrients.

What are some tips for preventing problems in my garden?

There are a few things you can do to prevent problems in your garden. One is to choose plants that are resistant to pests and diseases. Another is to practice good gardening hygiene, such as washing your hands after working in the garden and using sterile tools. You can also use mulch or fencing to deter pests and weeds.

What are some tips for starting a garden on a budget?

There are a few ways to start a garden on a budget. One is to purchase seeds instead of plants. Another is to use recycled materials, such as tires or pallets, for your garden beds. You can also ask family and friends for cuttings or seeds from their gardens. Finally, you can look for sales or coupons when purchasing gardening supplies.

Starting a garden without tilling:

If you don’t want to till the soil, there are a few ways to start a garden without tilling. One is to use a no-till gardening method. This involves using a layer of mulch or compost to suppress weeds and prevent soil erosion. Another option is to plant in raised beds. This can be done by using boards or bricks to create a border around your garden. Finally, you can use container gardening. This involves planting your plants in pots or other containers.

Should I start a smart or regular traditional garden?

If you’re not sure whether to start a smart or traditional garden, there are a few things to consider. One is the amount of time you’re willing to spend on your garden. Smart gardens require less time and effort than traditional gardens. Another consideration is the type of plants you want to grow. Smart gardens are better suited for growing vegetables, herbs, you’re interested in starting a garden, there are a few things you should know.

Starting a garden to make money:

If you’re looking to make money from gardening, there are a few things you need to know. One is that you’ll need to invest in quality tools and supplies. This will help you produce a higher quality product. Another is that you’ll need to choose plants that are in demand and have a high market value. Finally, you’ll need to price your harvest to ensure your backyard farm is sustainable.

Starting a garden nursery business:

If you’re interested in starting a garden nursery business, there are a few things you need to know. One is that you’ll need to have a green thumb. This means you’ll need to be good at growing plants. Another is that you’ll need to be able to market your plants.

This involves creating attractive displays and advertising your products. If you take this path of starting a garden nursery business keep an eye on your expenses to ensure overheads are not eating into your margins.

Many nurseries specialize in plants that must be transplanted to gardens. They are susceptible to damage and require a great deal of attention and time to care for.

Starting a gardening business:

A while back, I read a story of a successful gardener who switched from trading in stocks to starting a thriving gardening business. When starting a gardening business, it is essential to understand key cost drivers and to fully have a good estimation of the demand as well as the missing gap in the market.

In order to be successful or at least sustainable, you need to think about what services you’re going to offer. Some popular services include lawn care, landscaping, and garden design. You’ll also need to think about what type of equipment you’ll need and how much it will cost to maintain your business. Finally, you’ll need to develop a marketing plan.

If you have any more questions about gardening, feel free to ask in the comments section below!

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