Grow your own happiness: Ten top tips for beginner gardeners
If you’re looking for a hobby that clears the mind, relieves stress and keeps you in touch with nature, you can’t go past gardening. There’s a growing body of research around the positive impacts that tending to plants has on mental health, and with Earth Day around the corner what better time to roll up your sleeves and get your gumboots on?
Here are our ten top tips for beginner gardening success:
- Start small – when you feel super motivated to start gardening it’s easy to take on too much but you’ll have more success if you do a smaller area properly to start out with. As you get better, you can expand.
- Get to know your garden – start by spending time in the area where you’re looking to put your garden. If there are already plants there, see how well they’re growing. Watch the timings of the sun on the garden and check the quality of the soil.
- Salute the sun – if you’re planning to grow your own food in a veggie patch or herb garden, you’ll need to make sure your garden gets plenty of sun. Most edible food needs at least 6 hours of sun per day.
- Plan – once you’ve got to know what’s likely to do well in your garden, you can start planning in detail. Some people like to draw how their garden will look. Thinking about how big the plants will be as they grow will help you decide where they’ll look best.
- Prepare – as with lots of things in life, preparation is key. Clear the area of any weeds or overgrowth so you’re left with a blank canvas, leaving any existing plants that you want to keep. Turn the earth over nicely, and add any additional soil or mulch.
- Get online – before you buy your plants or seeds, make sure you know what their maintenance needs are. Check how much they’ll need to be watered, fed and pruned, and when. You can do all this online or by asking at a garden centre.
- Plant – the fun begins! Set your plants out in their pots where you want to put them and make sure you’re happy with how they look. Then plant away! Don’t forget to water each one after you’re done and add mulch around the base.
- Water – don’t forget to keep your garden well-watered, especially during hot Australian summers. If the soil feels dry when you push your finger a few centimetres in, it’s time to get the watering can or hose out.
- Be on the alert for pests – regularly check your plants’ foliage for any damage from pests, especially your edible plants. There’s plenty you can do to prevent your plants getting attacked by pests, including physical barriers like netting or mesh.
- Enjoy – the most important part! Get out and enjoy your work. Spending time among your growing garden will not only mean you pick up on problems earlier, you’ll be getting the benefit of being among nature, celebrating your achievements and connecting to our beautiful planet Earth.