Gardening For Beginners: How To Start a Garden, Growing Zones, Tools, Needs

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | February 14, 2024

Woman with a rake seems confused about gardening for beginners and how to start a garden at home, including indoor gardens, vertical gardens and other garden types.

If you have always wanted to but are not sure how to start a garden in your home, then this gardening for beginners guide is everything you need.

Here is where you will learn all the basics and the ins and outs of creating a garden and actually making sure that it is as fun and rewarding as it is meant to be.

With the right tips on gardening for beginners, creating your own vegetable, fruit, herb, or flower garden, is not as daunting as it may seem. You just need a few materials and the gumption. 

As it turns out, there are so many forms of gardening, and you can try out one that works best for you.

This gardening for beginners guide explains how to start a garden, how to determine your growing zone, the tools and materials you’ll need to get started, and how to choose the type of home garden you’d like to establish.

Creating a Garden: How To Start a Garden in Simple Steps

Gardening for beginners is not that hard.

Forget the intricate things that experts do and learn how to start a garden from scratch using the tools that you have.

Graphics showing the steps on creating a garden which include picking plants and location, deciding the method and size of the bed, testing the soil, planting, and caring and maintaining the garden.

Your home garden could be anywhere and in any form, either a backyard garden, a container garden, or a raised garden bed; what matters is how you start.

The following steps can help, because they type of garden you create will largely depend on the types of plants you want to cultivate and grow.

Step 1: Pick Your Plants

The very first question is, what do you want to grow in your garden? Are you looking for edible plants?

Or are you more interested in landscaping? For the former, look for veggies,6 fruits, and herbs that you can eat, and start small.

If your goal is landscaping, then your options are endless.

While deciding what to plant, also remember to confirm whether your gardening zones allow it and determine the frost dates before planting, especially for outdoor plants.

Indoor planting is more flexible because you can do it all through the year, and there are plenty of indoor options for growing vegetables, flowers or even trees.

Step 2: Pick the Location

The site matters a lot because it will determine where your plants are going to get access to sunlight and whether the garden will be easy to access (for care and maintenance).2

If you have limited space, look at container gardening options. These will allow you to move the garden as needed.

Likewise, if you are beginning a garden and want to go the organic route, check out straw bale gardens, which are a great way to grow vine vegetables or flowers.

Step 3: Decide on the Gardening Method and the Size of the Bed

Another important decision to make is to decide how you will go about planting.

Vertical gardens can be established in the most creative ways, all you need is a frame. If you plan to create a home vegetable garden in your backyard, then measure out the area and plan what you’ll plant and where before you start tilling the ground.

For outdoor gardens, areas that face or slope in the southerly direction will offer the most sunlight.

Step 4: Test Your Soil

This is going to be the home for your plants for a very long time, and you should make sure that it is comfortable.

You should be able to check that the drainage and pH levels are at their best levels, and that will also guide you on the best plants to grow.

With container gardening, choose soil and planting mediums that are designed for the plants you plan to grow.

Step 5: Start Planting

Are you starting with seeds or seedlings? Some veggies are better off starting with seeds, while other plants would rather be transplanted.

Take the seed’s diameter, and dig it at thrice the depth, and when it comes to seedlings, just plant them as deep as they were in their nursery containers and make sure that you plant outside when there is no danger of frost.

Of course, all vegetables have specific planting requirements, and many flowers and trees do as well, so make sure to research the specific varieties you plan to grow.

Step 6: Care and Maintenance

The last step in learning gardening for beginners is knowing how to take good care of your plants. You should water when the soil starts drying up and amend with fertilizer once or twice a month, depending on the particular plant.

Weeding and looking out for pests and diseases also go a long way to make sure that you get a bumper harvest at the end of the season.

Research growing and care tips for your specific plants. It might be that removing blooms on your annual flowers can result in more. Likewise, correctly pruning fruit trees is vital for increasing the yield.

What Tools Do You Need for Home Gardening?

If you get the right gardening tools, planting and taking care of your plants will not be a chore, and you will love every step of the way.

Graphic showing tools for home gardening including gardening hoe, hand trowel, leaf rake, garden shovel, pruners, gloves, watering can or pipe, grow light, garden planters, and garden kneel pad images.

(Kneel pad Image: User:SB_Johnny12)

As a first-timer, you may ask, what gardening supplies do you need to get started?

  • Gardening hoe (for in-ground gardening)
  • Hand trowel
  • Leaf rake
  • Garden shovel
  • Pruners
  • Gloves
  • Watering can or pipe
  • Grow light (for indoor planting)
  • Garden planters (for container planting)
  • Garden kneel pad

You will immediately notice that the gardening method will determine what you will need. The size of the garden, what you plant, and how you plant will help you decide, but all in all, just make sure that you avoid low-quality garden tools.7

Always buy from trusted vendors, and while using them, make sure that you leave them clean and in a generally great condition.4

What Is the Best Time To Start Gardening?

Wondering when is the best time to start a vegetable garden or even a flower garden?

Well, you can plant indoors at virtually any time of the year, but for the outdoors, you will have to wait until there is no danger of frost, which means after your region’s last frost date.

A person using a gardening tool to cultivate the soil and prepare it for planting.

(Image: Mariakray14)

Alternatively, you can choose to start planting indoors some weeks prior, then later transfer the plants outside when the weather gets warmer.

Most seed packages have the dates for planting listed on them, and the same is true for seedling plants.

What Are the Best Plants for Home Gardening?

There is a massive world of perfect plants that you can grow in your home garden. It is all up to you to decide which ones you like and the ones that you will effortlessly care for.

For instance, when it comes to vegetables, you can go for the ones that you eat regularly to make sure that you have a steady supply and actually enjoy the entire process, and the same applies to herbs and fruits.

On the other hand, if you want to grow flowers, you can pick those with your favorite colors and fragrance.

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: How To Start a Garden for Vegetables

Those interested in gardening for beginners are most likely looking for ways to start their fruit and vegetable garden because these are the most popular plants to grow.

The best part is that having a front or backyard vegetable garden means that you can finally have a steady supply of things that you actually use in your house.

So, here is how to start a garden purely for vegetables

#1 Pick the Perfect Spot

You will soon learn that vegetables are very particular about where they want to be planted.

The right places should have proper access to sunlight, should not be too windy, must drain well, and should be rich in nutrients for fast and healthy growth.

#2 What Vegetables Do You Want To Grow?

With so many incredible vegetable options out there, it may be burdensome to decide on what you want. But you can narrow it down to the ones that you use and your favorites.

From there, you can then shortlist based on research, checking which ones will be comfortable in your planting zone and will not give you a hard time when it comes to care and maintenance.

Also, make sure to account for vine plants, like cucumbers and squash…these have a tendency to take over the ground without cages or stakes that allow them to grow up, instead of out.

#3 When Will You Plant?

Timing is very important in matters of outdoor home gardening.

You have to take the weather and the climate into consideration before you plant any vegetables because the last thing that you want is to have your plants freezing in the cold or burning up under the scorching sun.

You can start by checking your region’s frost dates and only plant when there is no danger of freezing and even provide shading when it gets too hot.

#4 Will You Start From Seeds or Seedlings?

There are options that grow best, starting with seeds, while there are others that are better off transplanted.

Therefore, it depends on the particular vegetable that you want to plant. Check planting tips for your specific varieties to make sure you start them right.

And of course, you can start any plant indoors and grow the seedlings yourself before planting outside.

What Are the Best Plants for a Vegetable Garden?

There are so many vegetables that will do really well in a home garden, whether planted in-ground outdoors or in containers indoors.

Graphic of popular plants for vegetable garden showing Tomato plant, Bell Pepper plant, Lettuce, Spinach, and Kale, Cucumber plant, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Brussel Sprouts, and Green Onion images in circle frames.

Popular Garden VegetablePlanting Needs and Conditions
Tomato plantWill need trellises and cages for extra support.
Bell Pepper plantOne of the simplest and most rewarding to grow also benefits from support.
Lettuce plant, Spinach plant, KaleStart these leafy greens with seeds and make sure there is plenty of sunlight.
Cucumber plantNeeds extra support in the form of cages and stakes, but strings and trellis work as well.
PotatoesKnowing how to grow Potatoes from transplants or seeds can be rewarding,1 and you can easily grow these in straw bale gardens or other deep pots.
CarrotsCarrots also grow well in pots, without additional braces.
Celery and Brussels sproutsBrussels sprouts can be cultivated in containers, as well as Celery, but make sure to have ample space.
Green OnionsGreen Onions are one of the easiest container plants and can be grown literally on your windowsill.

Apart from the above vegetables,8 you can also learn to grow some common food items like herbs and even grains. If you know how to grow rice and other herbs and spices like the Mint plant, Basil plant, and Garlic plant, you will find gardening even more fun and fulfilling.

Gardening for Beginners: How Do You Care for Vegetable Plants in Your Garden?

Growing vegetables is not really as demanding as you may think. As a matter of fact, these plants are some of the most effortless to grow because all they need is to be planted in a sunny spot and in soil that is fertile and drains well.

Apart from that, you will only have to provide regular watering and fertilizer once in a while, and that will be about it in terms of care.

Flower Gardening for Beginners

If you are looking for the best plants for your landscape gardening, then you should know how to start a flower garden.

With so many vibrant and fragrant options available, it is pretty easy to see why you would want to have some growing right in your home.

What Is the Best Place To Plant Your Flowers?

Location matters a great deal when it comes to planting flowers, and you want the best outdoor space where there is access to sunlight for at least 6 hours each day, but be sure to provide some shading depending on the type of plant.

The spot should also be flat and the soil fertile and well-draining.

How To Get the Soil Ready for Planting

You will definitely start by loosening the soil to get rid of lumps, weeds, rocks, and anything that will interfere with the growth of your plant.

On the other hand, If you are gardening in a container, you want to make sure that you are using a potting mix, not garden soil that will be too compacted when in a container.

When Do You Plant Your Flowers?

The perfect timing for planting outdoors will be dictated by your area’s frost dates. Experts usually start their flowers weeks before the last frost date, gradually hardening them off before permanently transferring them outside.

The goal is to plant when the climatic conditions are more favorable.

Choosing Flowers for a Beautiful Garden

Don’t know which flowers will be perfect for your garden? How about a breakdown of the most common types based on their looks?

Flower ColorsFlower Types
Purple flowersLavender, Allium, Verbena, Catmint, Hydrangea, Wisteria, Bellflower, Russian Sage
Blue flowersLobelia, Iris, Cornflower, Delphinium, Balloon Flower, Morning Glory, Grape Hyacinth
Pink flowersPeony Flower, Dianthus, Dahlia, Azalea, Geranium, Carnation, Astilbe, Chrysanthemums
White flowersTulips, Daffodil Flower, Daisy flowers, Magnolia, Gardenia, Pansies
Orange flowersMarigold flower, Lantana, Begonia, Impatiens

Container Gardening for Beginners

If you don’t have a massive space in your home, or maybe the soil in the region is not perfect for your planting needs, then container gardening will be your best bet.

It is getting quite popular, especially in urban settings, and you should also give it a try to see what it’s all about.

For this method, you will need garden planters, or containers, in other words, where the plants are going to grow.

Eye-level shot of DIY container gardening using old rubber shoes and balls.

(Image: Marla Schnee13)

Make sure that they have drainage holes and are of the right materials and sizes for your needs. You will then fill these planters with potting mix,9 not garden soil, which proves to be too heavy and lacking in nutrients necessary for container gardening.3

You will then find the perfect spot to place your planters before filling ⅔ with potting soil and planting your seeds or seedlings inside.

You can have the containers indoors or outdoors depending on what you are growing and the climatic conditions, but the plants will thrive either way. You can plant vegetables, herbs, flowers, or even dwarf fruits in these pots, and with proper care and maintenance, expect nothing short of a bumper harvest.

How To Plant in Tiny Spaces

Lacking garden space should not hinder you from achieving your goals. Thanks to urban gardening or apartment gardening, you can still have the garden of your dreams even if you live in the city and have very little space to work with.

For this method of planting, you will definitely have to use containers, and it helps because it is versatile and fun, yet still as rewarding as any other method.

You can even decide on indoor gardening, just as long as there is access to sunlight or artificial light, and you are sure to provide everything else that your plant needs. You can also play around with ideas like vertical gardening, hanging planters, and window boxes to have more space for your plants.

There is just so much that you can do even when there is no space, you can even plant on your apartment’s rooftop, but be sure to set up a garden watering system to make watering easier.

How To Start a Community Garden

If you and your friends and neighbors want to grow food but don’t have the space for it, there is one effective solution: starting a community garden.

Wide shot of a neighborhood showing a parcel of land being used by residents as a community garden.

(Image: Matisse Miller11)

People, especially those in the cities, love this idea because of its various upsides, and it helps that it is not even that difficult to get started.

  1. Find a team of like minds: Of course, you will need a community to make this happen, and here is where you can ask your friends, neighbors, and family members to join; a team of five is the minimum, and you can even choose your leaders.
  2. Locate the land that you want: You will then work together to find the perfect site for your garden, making sure that it has everything you need, from sunlight access to fertile soil and a perfect slope. When you are sure of it, you can then find the owner, set up a meeting, seek permission, and get everything in place, including the signing of the lease.
  3. When it is all said and done, you can now start planning the community garden: Here is where you will take measurements and decide on what to plant,10 acquire the tools you need, and basically set everything up for planting.

Gardening Ideas and Beginner Gardening Tips

There is so much that you need to learn when it comes to planting your favorites, and these gardening tips for beginners will go a long way to help you improve your skills.

  • Location matters. The garden or spot you pick must be fertile, well-lit, and, of course, in your sight so that you can keep an eye on it.
  • Make sure that your garden is close to a water supply. You will save a lot of time and effort if you have a hose that delivers water directly to your plants.5
  • Be careful with your plant selection because some will really struggle just because of the region’s climate. You also want to go for the low-maintenance plants that will make gardening fun for you, not a chore, especially now that you are a beginner.
  • If you want to avoid watering all the time when it gets too hot, and want to keep weeds at bay, you could add a layer of mulch to your plants.
  • You will realize that testing the soil is very important, even before you start anything. The test will disclose the pH level and tell you whether the soil is fertile enough or not.
  • Any chance that you get to start gardening, try and start small. That could end up being the best thing that you would ever do.
    There is nothing like gradually growing into an expert farmer with all the necessary skills.
  • Edible plants are your best bet. You will quickly notice that you get more excited about gardening if you are able to get the rewards immediately, which will be the boost that you need to keep getting better.
  • Did you know that gardening can be a cheap investment? Although it may not seem like it, you can actually start gardening for free if you are running on a really tight budget.
    Instead of buying expensive seeds and seedlings from nurseries, you can plant cuttings and even kitchen scraps instead, or even start reusing and recycling items around your garden.

What Is Home Gardening: Types of Home Gardens

Home gardening is simply the activity of planting inside an individual’s home or place of residence, and it could be anything from flowers to vegetables. This practice takes so many different forms:

  • In-ground gardening: One of the most common forms where planting is in the ground, maybe in the front or backyard of the house.
  • Greenhouse gardening: Planting in an enclosed structure where you are able to keep conditions like temperature in check.
  • Organic gardening: The purest form of gardening where there is more emphasis on keeping the soil and everything used as natural as possible.
  • Kitchen gardening: Here is where you stick to planting only the items that you use in your kitchen, say vegetables and herbs.
  • Hydroponic gardening: A more advanced gardening method where plants grow in a water-based solution instead of soil.
  • Container gardening: The opposite of in-ground gardening, where all the planting takes place in containers or planters, not the ground’s garden soil.
  • Conservation gardening: Here, planting is done in such a way that it protects natural resources like forests.
  • Straw bale gardening: From the name, you can tell that this method uses straw bales instead of garden soil for planting.
  • No-till gardening: For this method, nothing you do should disrupt the soil, so no digging or turning it over.

Any experienced gardener will be able to tell you that gardening is the most rewarding thing they have ever done for their home. Imagine getting to plant what you use in your house every day or waking up to see breathtaking flowers outside your window.

All this could be yours if you take the leap and start gardening now with anything that you have. Starting may be the most daunting part but when you get that done, everything else falls into place.

Beginners tend to worry that it can be too tasking, but not really. What you need to do is to have all the tools required, be certain of the types of plants that you want to grow, and confirm that the prevailing conditions will be conducive to their survival.

Gardening for beginners doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you choose your plants, choose your garden type and grab your tools, you’ll be harvesting before you know it.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gardening for Beginners

Why Learn How To Start a Garden? Is Learning Gardening for Beginners Worth It?

There are so many reasons why you would want to start a garden, it could be because you need to plant food for your own consumption or want to make your otherwise plain yard look better. Regardless of the reason, having a home garden is worth every effort and every single penny that you invest.


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12Kneeling pad 01 Photo by User:SB_Johnny / CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

13Photo by Marla Schnee. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

14Photo by Mariakray. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>