Adding a garden to your yard is a great way to spruce it up. Not only are gardens visually pleasing, there’s nothing as satisfying as watching a garden that you have created and tended to with your own hands flourish. Plus, there are so many different kinds of gardens that you can create, from vegetable gardens to flower gardens to rock gardens and more, there is truly a garden style out there for everyone.
The first step to any gardening journey is, of course, to actually start the garden. Working with pre-made garden beds is one thing, but if you’re starting a garden from scratch there are a few things you need to know, and a few essentials that you will definitely need. To get the scoop on these must-have items we asked a couple of gardening experts what products they couldn’t live without.
Meet the Expert
- Julia Omelchenko is a resident botany expert for the NatureID app.
- Robert Silver is a Master Gardener and CEO of Pro Gardening Blog.
You won’t get very far into starting a garden without a shovel on hand. Shovels are used at nearly every stage of gardening so having a good-quality, reliable shovel is a smart investment. “The universal and convenience choice is one with the round point. It can be used for digging and moving the soil, making planting holes, and planting,” says Julia Omelchenko, resident botany expert for the NatureID app. A metal shovel with a wood or plastic handle is a good choice that is sure to last.
Hand-held trowels are useful when a large shovel isn’t required. This could be for planting small plants or tending to plants in a container garden, for example. Again, a metal trowel with a plastic or wood handle is the best choice.
Another tool that is indispensable when starting a new garden is a rake. “With a rake you can level the soil and remove small weeds before planting," says Omelchenko. “Choose a garden [rake] with uniform tines, as this type of rake is sturdy and easy to use.”
“Keeping your plants comfortable means regular watering,” says Omelchenko.
For some plants (like fruits and vegetables), you may even need to water them every day, so having the right tools to do so will make your life a lot easier. A good quality garden hose is a must-have as long as your home is set up for one. “If it has a spray nozzle—even better,” says Omelchenko.
Not only are spray nozzles (which can be found at most gardening or home improvement stores) helpful for controlling the speed and flow of the water. “[They're] also useful for rinsing leaves during watering to increase humidity and help the plants from overheating and drying out when it's warm outside,” Omelchenko says.
Even if you have a watering hose, a watering can is a good thing to have around if you have gardens. For those times when you only need to water one or two plants and you don’t feel like pulling the whole hose out, you’ll be happy you have one. Plastic watering cans are a great choice for outdoor gardens because they can withstand being left outside and are also affordable and easy to find.
Gardening gloves aren’t just helpful for keeping your hands clean while digging around in the dirt, they also help to protect you from unexpected hazards and injuries.
“Coated work gloves are a versatile option,” says Omelchenko. “These are usually cotton gloves coated with liquid latex or PVC that covers the entire glove or parts of it, such as palms and fingers. Gloves treated in this way are much denser than conventional fabric gloves and are also impervious to moisture and dirt which makes them a great option for working with the soil.”
Using high-quality garden soil is one of the most important parts of starting a new garden. “Good quality soil is the foundation of a healthy garden,” says Robert Silver, Master Gardener and CEO of Pro Gardening Blog. “The soil should be rich in organic matter and have the right pH levels to support the growth of your plants."
The exact type of soil that you will need (yes, there are many kinds) will depend on the kind of plants that you plan on adding to your garden. For example, fruit and vegetable gardens need rich soil full of organic matter, while a succulent garden should be made with a sandy soil mix that is extremely well-draining. Do your research ahead of time and if you’re stuck, don’t be afraid to ask the experts at your local gardening center for guidance.
Mulch provides several benefits to the garden. “[It] helps to retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, suppress weeds, and add organic matter to the soil,” says Silver. Wood mulch like bark mulch, cedar mulch, pine mulch, and artificially colored mulch are some of the most popular types of mulch since they are so aesthetically pleasing, but there are also other choices such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, and more.
Seeds or Plants
Last but not least, you will need seeds or plants to plant in your new garden. If you plan to start seeds rather than purchase plants, then you may need to start the seeds indoors and transfer them outside once they are big enough. However, if you want to save yourself the trouble, you can buy plants, shrubs, and even trees that are ready to go into the ground at your local nursery or garden center. “Consider factors such as the climate, soil type, and sunlight conditions,” recommends Silver.