• Don’t do the entire garden
Most people who are just starting out or have moved into a new garden feel pressured to do the whole garden at one time. I persuade most of my clients to stage the design and build. This is great for beginners and I would suggest they concentrate on getting the area around the house finished first. Not only will this give you an area that you can enjoy relatively quickly but it also means you can budget for the entire garden.
• Cover the soil with ground cover plants
One of the biggest problems newcomers to gardening find is maintenance – the last thing you want to do is spend all of your down time looking after a garden. Plan ahead, think about covering every centimetre of your soil with plants – choose ground cover plants and place them in-between larger shrubs and don’t be afraid to plant annuals, these will suppress any unwanted weed growth.
• Buy quick growing plants
Plants take time to grow and whether you have grown from seed or cuttings a garden full of tiny new plants can be demoralising at the best of times – choose plants which grow fast and that will give you a great show in your first season. Try clump forming perennials such as Asters and grasses – buy plants that can easily be split to make several plants for the price of one.
• Use natives wherever possible
Native plants offer a fail safe answer to many new gardeners. Native plants have adapted over the years to most climatic and soil changes therefore make the most easily to look after plants. Choose Hazel and Birch for fast instant structure. Native plants are generally much cheaper than their hybrid alternatives so keep a look out in the garden center.
Vegetables can be extremely rewarding to the first time gardener and also offer you a chance to understand how plants grow and what they need to survive – forgetting to water your tomatoes will give you a nasty shock! Picking and eating your own produce also helps you bond with your garden and there is nothing quite so relaxing as returning home from a hard days work to water the vegetables and harvest a crop.
• Use local garden centre knowledge
Garden centres are a great source of knowledge with most having help desks. It is important to use this knowledge and ask staff for help with certain plants and also to clarify if the plant you are buying is right for you.