The Basics of Gardening

Gardening is a hobby that you can spend a lifetime learning about. Seasons change, seeds fail or thrive, and just when you think you know it all, you realize how much there still is to learn. Direct Energy’s Gardening Series is a follow-along guide to embrace the beauty and challenges involved in being a gardener. As a craft that requires patience, creativity, and endurance, gardening can be enjoyed by those of all ages, and is one of the most satisfying ways to spend an early morning, or late afternoon. Follow along as we show you how to begin, which herbs grow the best, and other tips on how to plant a garden that will flourish under your care.

The Basics of Gardening | Direct Energy

We begin this series from Direct Energy by providing you with a list of items you’ll need to consider before you jump in. For those with a lifetime of gardening under their belt, these ideas will be second nature.

But for those new to it, there are a few must haves, if you wish to produce excellent results. Especially when it comes to growing edible food, quality of soil and care for your plants is key.

Plan Your Garden

So you want to be a gardener and produce homegrown herbs or roses that look as though they came from a florist. Where to begin? Your space will tell you what you’re capable of having.

For those in urban environments with only a balcony to grow on, your garden may be as small as a few large containers. For those in the country, consider building raised garden beds fenced off from deer, or making a spiral drawing for an elaborate ornamental and edible garden in one. Assess your space, and go from there. It’s best to have a plan before you start digging up grass, or bringing in new dirt. Draw it on paper, and begin to visualize what you want to build.

The Basics of Gardening | Direct Energy

Growing Perennial or Annual Plants

An annual plant will only grow for one season, and then die at its seasons close. A perennial, on the other hand, is a plant that keeps growing throughout the seasons and doesn’t die come summer’s end.

Decide whether you want a garden that combines perennials and annuals, and if your garden is a mixture, then know that at certain times of the year, you’ll have empty pockets in your garden, ready for seeds that will grow in the coming season. Most vegetable gardens and fruit orchards are a combination of both, as are flower gardens.

A prosperous garden is cyclical, and you will begin to see the way your garden responds to the weather at different times of year. This will lay the path for you as to how your garden develops and grows.

Full Sun Versus Partial Shade

If a garden full of ferns strikes your fancy, then you will do fine to plant it in a backyard with a huge tree and lots of dappled shade.

However, if you are growing flowers like cosmos, roses or zinnias, or natives, or fruits and vegetables, then you will need at least 6 hours of direct sun. Plants that need full sun won’t look their best with inadequate sunlight. They often end up lanky and don’t bloom.

Be sure you are planting what grows best in the light you are working with.

The Basics of Gardening | Direct Energy

Soil Basics

Depending on where you live, your native soil may be loamy, which is full of sand, or something like gumbo, which is heavy on the clay side. At times its easier to just bring in fresh new soil, and start from scratch.

You’ll want to purchase good topsoil for your in-ground gardening, and if you’re planting in containers, then use potting soil.

For planting and growing fruits or vegetables, I also recommend buying a good quality bag of compost, and mixing some of that in to the hole where you will plant your plants. It will give them a good, healthy start, and fertilize them from the roots up. Soil is often the most important aspect of gardening after sun exposure.

If you plant trees, then consider mulching them. Mulch keeps the weeds at bay, and keeps the moisture in the ground where it won’t evaporate as quickly on a hot summer day.

Start your garden beds right, and you’ll see the results above ground in no time.

Simple Tools

Gather a few affordable items to have on hand for your years of gardening to come!

Gloves are a must to protect your hands from all the organisms in the soil, and your skin and hands from thorns, stinging nettles, and other items in your garden that may cause irritation.

You’ll also need a nice sharp shovel to dig holes, and a hand spade is helpful too, especially to dig out the roots of weeds.

You will also want to consider a watering can if you are gardening on your porch or balcony, or a nice hose that won’t kink, along with a sprinkler. It’s so important to adequately water your new plants so they settle into your space well.

Once your garden begins flourishing, consider buying a nice pair of secateurs to keep bushes pruned, or to harvest your fruits, herbs or flowers.

Did we miss your favorite garden basic? Share with us in the comments below.


Born in Australia, Ebony has been in Texas long enough to consider herself a Texan-Aussie. Ebony has been writing for magazines, newspapers, and blogs, for more than 10 years. When she's not writing she's building quilts, growing her own food, or camping with her family somewhere far from the sounds of the city.

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