Beginner Gardening: Everything You Need To Create A Beautiful Container Garden

Consider this your beginner gardening planting guide.

Need container gardening ideas about which gardening pots are best for you? Tips on flowers for your shade garden? Seed germination? Potting soil? Which is best–annual flowers or perennials?

You’ll get great container gardening tips here and elsewhere on this website.

For instance, if you haven’t looked at the Container Garden Design section, you might want to spend some time there and discover a bit about your personal style (Take the quiz, too). See what sort of colors, forms, and look you want to create in your container garden. You’ll also get very specific ideas about container garden design (things like how to use color, plant texture, and proportion).

All set? Ok—my first great idea if you’re just beginning gardening is an easy one—Start Simple!

Beginner Gardening Tip: This garden pot works because of

  • the profusion of blooms (healthy plants are important)
  • the proportion of the large mounding petunias in relationship to the graceful and tall black wrought iron urn.

It’s very simple to achieve this with just one healthy type of plant in a graceful pot.

Though you can fill your flower pots in any season and any way you chose, my best advice is to follow these tips:

  1. Beginner Gardening Tip: Start your container garden in a season where there are lots of flowers to choose from, and ones that are easy to grow. For most of us, that’s spring and summer annuals.
  2. Beginner Gardening Tip: If you’re planting a shade garden, see how well these plants grow in a partial-shade site? You don’t need full sun all day long to have lots of great color.
  3. Beginner Gardening Tip: Have a simple garden design plan—one big planter and three to five smaller ones is a great way to start (remember—stay with an odd number). You can experiment with different types (clay pots, window boxes, glazed ceramic pots, terra cotta)—lots of options!).
  4. Beginner Gardening Tip: Using a few outdoor planters gives you several different design options. Whether you do patio or balcony gardening, or have flowers on your roof or deck, try beginning with one corner:
  5. You can center the big one, surround it by smaller ones (remember to use a triangle shape if you can—tier up from front to back in pot height).
  6. Tier the medium and smaller pots on a wrought iron stand (here you can use trailing plants effectively), accent with the large planter.
  7. Make an asymmetrical design by having the large pot to the left or right, a few showy flower pots surrounding it, then a couple trailing off.
  8. Beginner Gardening Tip: Know the basics before you start—the best container soil, how to plant your pot and care for it, sun/shade requirements, garden pests. For simple, complete, step-by-step instruction and your gardening guide, make sure to visit the How-To section on Container Planting.
  9. Beginner Gardening Tip: Start out with commercially made potting soil. It is by far the very best choice. You do not want to get side-tracked by trying to mix your own potting soil in the beginning.Plus—this gives you time to really learn what sort of plants you want to continue growing. Cacti and succulents take vastly different sorts of soils than do herbs and herbaceous perennials. Learn what you like, then learn to mix the soils they love.The other good thing about commercial mixes is you won’t have soil-borne pests, weeds, and diseases to contend with.
  10. Beginner Gardening Tip: Get the basics. Don’t go hog wild, just get the gardening tools you need. You’ll have fun adding more gardening supplies later. Start with hand tools:
    • a trowel (the scoop variety is great, with teeth)
    • a shovel (for a big pot)
    • gardening gloves
    • container for mixing soil, water gel crystals, fertilizer pellets (a small wheelbarrow or just any old tub will do—just make sure you can move it)
    • A GOOD pair of gardening shears. If you have an investment to make, do it here. You won’t believe how much you’ll use your pruning shears.
  11. Beginner Gardening Tip: Fiskars makes some good ones I hear, but I love Felco garden products—they last a lifetime. And their pruning shears have never let me down.
  12. Beginning Gardening Tip: Also, be sure to get pruning shears, not loping shears, which are way too large for container gardening. And, make sure you like the way they fit and feel in your hand.If you’re left-handed, try to find ones without molded grips since they’ll be reversed for you. Or, if you want to spend a little more money, try Gempler’s left-handed Felco shears.
  13. A watering can. Try to get one with a detachable nozzle so you can unclog it. This also gives you the option of watering without the tip and sending a stronger stream into your plant pot.
  14. Beginner Gardening Tip: Plastic is a good choice here—you can find large watering cans that hold a lot of water but are lightweight. Other materials like painted tin or decorative metal can be pretty, but they can rust and also can get heavy. A great online resource for all these garden supplies is the Gardener’s Supply Company.
  15. Optional: a knife (good for dividing plants), a hat, and a plastic tarp (good to do your planting on, it makes clean-up a lot easier).
  16. Beginner Gardening Tip: I don’t know about you, but I end up stripping off my gardening gloves all the time. For me, they’re too bulky and clumsy and I can’t get a good feel for the plants and soil—especially small plants and potting soil that needs some softening up.I use those really thin plastic gloves you get at any grocery store. You can buy a whole box for not much money. They do tear, I have to be honest. But it’s better than nothing—which is how I usually end up anyway!
  17. Beginner Gardening Tip: If you have the option, it’s always good to locate your container garden near a hose. It’s much, MUCH easier to buy a nozzle with a bunch of settings (“jet” for clean-up, “shower” for watering etc.) than to try to do it with one watering can with only one setting.Ok, Final thought: One other great thing about gardening in containers is that you don’t have to weed! Well, not much anyway. And, you might want to try out Beginner Gardening help with design using plant texture and proportion.

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