There are so many rewards to gardening; the fresh air, exercise, relaxation and of course, the beautiful and/or delicious things that result! But if you’re thinking about starting your very first garden, knowing where to begin can be a little overwhelming. We’ve got 10 helpful tips so that even if you are a beginner, you’ll be gardening like an expert!

Get to Know Your Site

Take a stroll around your yard and take note of which existing planting areas get the most sun and which are shaded. If it helps, create a little map designating these areas. Stop by one of the area’s many gardening centers, like The Hidden Gardens and Hinsdale Nurseries in Willowbrook, and Vern Goers Greenhouse Inc in Hinsdale, for a simple soil test to check your soils for well-balanced nutrients and pH. If you’re thinking about growing edibles, you may want to check the soil for lead by sending samples to various professionals who perform a free test. Lastly, admire your yard and envision where you’d enjoy your garden most before you make a final decision.

Create a Plan

If you’re not sure what plants to buy, take a “research trip” to your local gardening center. The professionals at a place like Clovers Garden in Willowbrook can help you check tags for when certain things will bloom, and choose plants that bloom best in season for the most vibrant and flourishing herbage. Also note how big certain plants will get so you can space them out properly.

Start with “Easy” Plants

It’s always fun to have success your first time around. Try growing vegetables first for a less-wasteful trial run. Vegetable plants grow tall quickly, so you won’t waste months of your time if something doesn’t go according to plan. Daylilies, poppies, and hostas are also great options as they can be grown easily throughout the Midwest.

Combine Seeds and Starts

Starting an entire garden from seeds may be more affordable, but it can also be pretty frustrating. At the same time, using all starter plants is more costly and limits your options. Try a good mix of both to find a happy medium. We recommend lettuce, beets, marigolds, or sunflowers for your seeded plants.

Transport Your Plants

For the starter plants you do choose, try this expert hack for transporting them. Line the back of your car with a plastic tarp and lay a small step ladder on top. Use the slots between the rungs of the ladder as safety compartmentalize to protect your fragile plants from getting knocked over or smashed. Plus, less mess!

Figure Out Your Tools

You don’t need a shed full of equipment for your first go at gardening. Figure out what essentials you’ll need before you make a big investment in anything fancy. Who knows; gardening may not be your thing, so start small. Some things you should definitely have:

Gardening Gloves – choose a pair that’s comfy, but thick enough for thorns!

Shovel – a pointed tip is much more useful and versatile than a flat spade.

Long Garden Hose – make sure it’s long enough to reach the main areas of your garden from the spicket.

Hand Pruner – nice and sharp to trim back branches and plants with woody stems.

Metal Rake – for spreading mulch and preparing the bed.

Create a No-Stick Shovel

Did you know a little silicone or Teflon lubricant spray can make shoveling so much easier? It’ll help soil slip right off your shovel without a mess and make digging go more smoothly.

Assist Your Root Bound Plants

If you chose any potted plants, they’re most likely root-bound. (Root-bound: when the roots run out of room to grow, causing them to form tight circles of roots within the pot). Gently guide the roots outward using your fingers, and if they’re real tough make vertical cuts with a knife. This will help make sure water and other nutrients travel to the rest of the plant.

Lighten Those Heavy Pots

We did say gardening is good exercise, but you also shouldn’t have to overly strain yourself. To make a heavy planter lighter, fill the bottom half of it with packing peanuts, then layer the potting soil on top. You can also mix with vermiculite and peat moss to make it even lighter. Another expert gardening hack!

Keep Up the Good Work!
Once you get everything underway, you probably won’t have to check your garden every day, but it is important to do some pruning, weeding and other tidying up on a regular basis to stay in tune with what your plants need to thrive. Proper maintenance is a must, so keep an eye on your plants and if you notice any stunted growth, sometimes the fix is in the underlying soil. A little teasing to spread the soil out should do the trick.

So what are you waiting for? Spring has sprung, so let’s get to planting!

Beechen & Dill Homes is a reputable and innovative new home builder building communities in the Chicago, IL area. For more information, visit