The Q&A Archives: How Do I Start A Garden??

Question: I know it's only Feb. but I would like to start planning a garden. I have quite a large backyard but I'm chicken to just dig up some grass and start planting flowers. I would like to landscape with a large variety of flowers blooming at different times but it all seems so overwhelming. Where do I begin?

Answer: The best place to begin is probably with a soil test. By having a soil test performed you can head off any problems you may have before they even occur. Your local County Extension Agency usually offer this service for free or at a very reasonable costto county/state residents. Contact them for details. Regardless of soil test results you will need to prepare your ground for planting. After you decide the general area you would like to plant in, how large of a bed you would, what shape, etc., you will need to break ground. The best option is to till the area and while tilling, work in some organic matter like compost, leaf mould, or composted cow manure. If you don't have access to a tiller (they are usually offered for rent at many places) you can prepare the ground by hand. This would involve removing the turf grass, and digging up the area to loosen the ground. Once again, you would need to work in some organic matter once the ground had been dug and loosened. Organic matter is important because it improves the soil's composition, and, works to gently nourish your plants. Of course there are lots of things in between I am sure you are already thinking of such as what type of plants you want (be sure to pick those suitable to the spot they will be in and your growing zone), how to define your bed (edging, border, raised bed, etc.). If it seems like an overwhelming task, start small. Try your hand at a smaller flower bed first, see how you like it, then move on to larger projects. My guess is, you will be hooked. It really isn't that hard once you have been through the process and before you know it, you will be addicted to gardening and your dilemma will be that you are running out of space! Remember, if we can help throughout the process feel free to revisit the website with questions.

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