Creating your own productive, beautiful garden is an aspiration for millions of people around the globe. However, if you’ve ever dabbled with daffodils or planted beds of pak choi, then you’ll know that creating your dream yard can be trickier than it first seems.

Becoming a green thumb is all about planning your garden properly so your flowers, shrubs, fruits, and veggies have a good chance of thriving when they’re planted out. Even subtle differences in soil quality and drainage can have a huge impact on the health of delicate fruits like raspberries or asparagus.

You’ll also need to take stock of less obvious features, like borrowed landscape, sunlight hours, and water usage. This will ensure that your garden fits in with the surrounding environment and doesn’t require excessive amounts of water in the dryer summer months.


You don’t necessarily need to plan your garden out on paper before you start mulching soil and planting shrubs. However, a little forethought can go a long way when you’re new to a garden. Before you start laying a lawn or pulling out trees, consider noting down key considerations like:

  • How and where does the sun strike your garden? Do some areas receive full sun all day? Do other areas receive dappled shade from overhanging trees?
  • Do areas of your garden receive high winds or gusts? Are there any areas that are protected from the elements by walls or bushes?
  • What kind of soil do you have? Is it clay-like and firm, sandy and free-draining, or loam-like in texture?
  • What surrounds your garden? Are you nestled amongst the foothills or surrounded by farmland? Can you see the cityscape and do you see cars driving past?

Answering these questions will help you get to know your garden on a deeper level. Taking into account your surroundings will help you make strategic decisions when it comes time to plant larger trees and bushes too, as you’ll be able to cut down on traffic noise and become self-sustaining in an urban environment.

This is the perfect time to start doing eco-friendly lawn care, such as composting. A good compost pile will serve as fertilizer for your garden, and using fewer or no chemicals is good for all the plants in the space.

Now is a great time to pull tape, too. It’s easy to forget how wide or narrow a flowerbed is when at the garden center, and you may underestimate the size of your vegetable patch while you’re away from home. Pulling tape will help you keep track of the sunlight hours that your garden receives, too. This will increase your yield and help you savor more seasonal flavors for longer during the year.

Growing Great Fruits and Veggies

Sunlight, shade, soil quality, and watering are particularly important when you’re growing fruits and vegetables. For example, lettuces and other hardy greens like Brussels sprouts and kale do well in areas that get a little more shade. On the other hand, tomatoes, peppers, and berries do well in full-sun areas. When it comes to soil, many plants do better in acidic as opposed to alkaline soil. As for water, drip irrigation is best because it gets to the roots, and different plants need differing amounts of water.

The final piece of this puzzle is planting complementary plants by each other, for example, basil goes great with tomatoes. So does mint, but watch out — it’ll take over. You’ll want to make some lists. Scope out your planting area and, as mentioned, determine how much sun it gets throughout the day. This will help you decide whether to plant shade-friendly greens, carrots, and radishes or sun-hungry raspberries, blueberries, peppers, and tomatoes. Next, consider the following with your list:

  • Soil supplies: Coffee grounds can do wonders for acidification, but look into mulches, fertilizers, and mycorrhizae; you can also check the pH of your soil and create a soil supply list accordingly.
  • Nutrients and eating habits: In terms of what you’ll plant, think about the fruits and veggies you buy at the store most and how to get the most bang for your buck nutritionally. Foods like kale, blueberries, and broccoli are famous as nutritional powerhouses.
  • Drip lines and timers: If you have a berry patch, a soak hose will be great for that. For drip lines and soak hoses, you can get timers that allow you to program multiple watering schedules from one faucet. You’ll plant things in proximity to each other based on watering needs and run drip lines attached to timers that are specifically programmed to give each garden section the right amount of water.
  • Bug control: Organic gardening is best for nutrients and your health, so you look into plants that act as cover crops to discourage pests in your garden.


In an ideal world, everything you plant would immediately love its new location. However, in reality, gardens are tricky to manage and often confound your best-laid plans. Rather than getting frustrated when your fuschia refuses to flower or your ferns fade, embrace the ethos of experimentation when gardening.

This approach is something championed by author and gardener Michael Pollan. In his book Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Pollan explains that a garden is best understood as a verb, rather than a noun. That is, to garden is to get stuck in with the experimentation and dirty work that is necessary to produce flower beds and vegetable patches to be proud of.

Keeping the experimental nature of gardening in mind is crucial when, like many beginners, you decide that your only skill is for killing all the plants you intend to grow. This is a common experience amongst beginners and is necessary if you want to grow a successful garden one day. Don’t be dissuaded when your delphiniums don’t bloom and try to cultivate an underlying love for gardening when you’re forced to dig up a box bush that has succumbed to blight.

Tools and Storage

You can garden effectively with little more than a trowel and a reliable water supply. However, gardening is a lot easier when you have the right tools for the job. If you have some funds set aside for gardening tools, consider investing in basic equipment like:

  • Hardy, thick gardening gloves
  • Sheers, loppers, and secateurs
  • A fork and a spade
  • Handtrowl and a hoe
  • A watering can and an adjustable hose
  • A wheelbarrow

These basic items will take up a lot of room in your garden. Keep them organized in a garden shed by installing clever features like stacked crates and hooks to hang up your wheelbarrow. You can keep all your bigger tools secure using PVC pipes and should repurpose old cans as tool caddies. This low-impact approach leans on recycled items and helps you create a beautiful, well-organized garden space.


Planning your garden can help you dodge common missteps and deepen your understanding of your outdoor space. This can be transformative if you’re used to plants dying as soon as you plant them out in the soil. Get started by taking stock of key details like sunlight exposure and soil quality. This will guide your planting decisions and help you plant a range of fruits and vegetables that are great for your health.


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