Whether your outdoor living space is a porch container or a window box, planting a new flower garden is one of the most rewarding things from getting your hands a bit dirty.
But for beginners, the whole complicated process might be overwhelmed, like which flowers to grow, how to test soil and how to plant and take care. Just worry-free, in this article, we are going to break down that process into 10 steps to follow how to start a flower garden more easily.
Table of Contents
1. Where to Plant
Despite the same goal, it’s quite different about the implementation process between people who are living in an apartment and that is in a home with room for a garden.
Which group are you in?
We will start one by one!
First off, to find the right place for an apartment garden, determine how many potential areas that are available to start your new hobby. Is there a rooftop garden or a corner? Is it spacious or modest? How about the light?
With people who have just bought a house with room for a garden, this step is much easier. Just take the priority to pick the location as near to the house as possible so that you can enjoy it, both looking at the flowers and taking care of them.
2. Sunlight Requirements
This feature is something that can’t be changed as easily as others, like weather, temperature or soil.
There are four types of the light condition:
- Shade: 3 or fewer hours of sunlight/day. There are two kinds of shade – dense shade and light shade. The first means direct sunlight hardly reaches the garden’s portion, which is also the trickiest to work from.
- Part shade: 3 to 6 hours of sunlight/day. The characteristics of this light condition type are periodically dappled light. For instance, when the sun moves behind a shed or large tree.
- Part sun: 3 to 6 hours of sunlight/day. And the light is continuous.
- Full sun: 6 or more hours of sunlight/day.
To determine how much light you have, look carefully at the garden area a couple of times during the day when the spring or summer comes.
Note down the amount of time.
By knowing the average number of sunlights reaching the garden areas, it’s easier to choose suitable flowers for your garden. Besides, is the right plan to provide enough light for them.
Tips: For apartment gardeners, it’s not impossible to grow full-sun flowers if your space is considered shade or part shade. Think about the support of plant lights.
3. Choose the Type of Garden
In general, pick flowers that thrive indoors.
The choices for apartment gardeners are really less than the other group.
Orchids are the most popular option as they grow hardily in apartment settings if provided proper moisture and light requirements.
But it doesn’t mean you can go for other adorable indoor flowers for various colors, such as jasmines, gardenias, or African violets that easily thrive in bright western or eastern windows.
Choosing the right type of garden is important. You can’t make a choice that all depends on your preference, it should be due to the available space that you have as well.
4. Plan your Garden Beds
There are three types for the home garden:
- Single rows
- Plant beds
- In blocks
But I advise choosing either between the second and the third as single rows are rather space-taking and less efficient.
Start with plant beds, they’re divided into two smaller categories:
- Sunken beds: Highlight a higher amount of water that is gathered to provide for the plants, meaning they are suitable for dry areas
- Raised beds: They nail up two things: Easier to work with and more attractive to look. But can’t keep as much water as sunken beds so that plants dry out rapidly.
Whichever bed you intend to choose, it should be 7 to 10 feet long to prevent you from stepping inside it and compact the ground.
Besides, it must be 3 or 5 feet across to leave you enough space to reach the center from both sides for easier caring. Remember, don’t overcrowd the plants as they will end up with difficult thriving.
For apartment gardens, due to the narrower space, try arranging the plants on a bookcase or a tiered shelf. If you’re using plant lights for your flowers, choosing a focal plant, like bamboo, a large palm, or an indoor evergreen. Place it in the plant light stand, under is a chair so that you can enjoy the gorgeous garden atmosphere while your plants are assured enough light.
5. Essential Garden Tools
Garden tools will make or break your working experience in the garden. That’s why you should choose the right ones. Basic gears for gardening include:
- Hand tools: You should have transplanter, cultivator, and trowel with anti-rust design, a hang hole, and a comfortable grip.
- A basic shovel: It should be lightweight but tough and durable enough
- Pruners: There are different sizes available and due to specific jobs to choose the right one.
- Garden hoe: We advise to use two types of hoes: The scuffle hoe to chop off weeds and the standard hoe to dig seed plant holes
- A bucket with tool organizers for versatility when you are working your garden.
- Tool hangers to store them when not in need
- An apron: Which is more suitable for rooftop gardens or home gardens to protect your clothes from getting dirty
When choosing them, don’t go for the plastic ones because they are super-flimsy and weak to handle different gardening tasks. Choose stainless-steel or rustic-resistant metals instead.
Remember, keep all your gardening tools clean and sharp as this will help you save tons of time and effort.
6. Test the Soil
This small test indicates the pH level of your garden’s soil to know whether it’s potential enough for planting and if not, how to improve it.
To conduct the soil test, you must need:
- 1 spoon
- 1 distilled water
- 1 soil test kit
- 1 quart jar
- 1 flat container
- 1 trowel
- 1 pair of glove
Firstly, put on the gloves to avoid getting dirty on your hands as well as ensure your bare hands don’t touch the samples.
Using the trowel to dig 6” deep and to collect roughly a teaspoon of soil from 6 different spots in your garden. Make sure that there’s no stones, mulch, or roots mixed in that.
With large clumps, use the trowel to break them up.
Now, mix each soil pile a little bit in the quart jar and then, scoop a small amount enough to fill the soil test kit’s vial. Carefully open one capsule from the kit, pour the powder into the vial and add distilled water until it reaches the dotted line.
Cover the vial with its lid, shake strongly to get a well-mixed mixture.
Let it sit for 2 minutes so that the liquid can settle and take on the color. Hold the vial up to the sun, compare its color to the soil kit test’s guide to knowing your soil’s pH level.
The range is from 1.0 (highly acidic) to 14 (highly alkaline), meaning 7 is neutral. It’s best if the soil’s pH level is within 6 to 8.
If it’s overly acidic, add wood ashes, dolomite limestone, or lime whereas adding pine needles, composted oak leaves, horticultural sulfur for overly alkaline soil.
Also Read: Importance of Garden Soil Testing
7. Build the Soil
Soil is an element that you can improve year after year by adding mulch, worm castings, and compost. As healthy soil = healthy plants.
Almost plants prefer a balance of soil nutrients and such organic matter includes all of the basic soil’s macronutrients – potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. They are listed on the plant food package in percentages of K-P-N.
But beforehand, don’t forget to cut sod (if available) up in chunks and lay down cardboard/newspaper to smother it.
It’s ideal to build a garden bed in autumn and spring.
Another additional step to allows plant roots to easily penetrate the soil to access the added nutrients, as well as water, is digging or tilling the soil.
When the soil is moist enough that you can make a loose ball but also dried enough to crumble when dropped, use a sharp spading fork or spade to dig the soil. Start with turning 9” to 12” of soil, mixing with the organic matter.
For larger beds, you should till the soil a little than too much to avoid disturbing earthworms or microorganisms. Use a rototiller to help you with this task.
8. Pick the Right Transplants or Seeds
In most seed packets, thankfully, the manufacturers will label the basic growing information to let gardeners know whether the plants grow best as transplants or directly seeded to the ground.
Transplants are a good way to save money and this method is particularly useful to grow specific varieties like heirloom varieties.
But if you prefer to plant the flowers from seeds (like sunflowers), here are some tips to follow:
- Ask the staff at your local garden center to learn if your seeds or plants were sprayed or treated with potentially harmful chemicals.
- Watch for signs of stress on the plants like yellow leaves or insect damage since a lot of plants and seeds stores nowadays install seasonal plant sales in their parking lots.
- Choose the reasonable pot to the plant’s size
9. How to Plant
Consult the basic planting instructions provided by the manufacturers in most transplant containers or seed packets.
Consider the sunlight requirements for seeds to germinate, the planting time, as well as ways to care for them. Most annual flowers love warm temperature so considering to plant them in late spring or summer.
For apartment gardens, beginner gardens should start with seasonal plants by sowing seeds indoors a couple of weeks until the frost date ends up.
Place the pots or containers under grow lights or sunny windowsills and ensure keeping them moist enough but not too wet to avoid rotting.
Meanwhile, pansies tolerate cold to ideally grow in late autumn or winter.
- Choose a flat pot for lower-maintenance, less time-consuming and more affordable price.
- In general, the plant needs to seed nearly three times more than the seed’s diameter.
- With heat-loving plants, you should wait until all frost dangers have gone to seed them.
- Plant the transplants as deeply as they were in their pot
- Increase hardening off or protection (like using windbreaks) to young plants since they tend to be more tender than the older ones.
- Place the pots near a water spigot and where you can’t ignore them to take care of
10. Take Care of the Seeds/Plants
Seedlings should not be dried out, meaning you need to daily water them. With transplants, the watering schedule is a bit looser – every other day – before their roots firmly set up.
Afterward, consider the rainfall, humidity, and soil to plan a new watering schedule for them.
Remember, windy conditions dry out the soil faster than cool and sandy soil is dried out more quickly than the clay one. Beginners can test it by feeling the soil 2 to 3 inches below the surface to know whether it’s dried or not.
In general, when the plants getting older, watering them once a week is a good choice. Water them deeply and slowly to let it soak evenly rather than running off.
Cover the soil’s surface with a few inches of mulch to keep moisture in and weeds out. Also, don’t forget to remove diseased, yellow, or dying leaves and spray on an insecticidal soap to banish destructive insets.
The best thing about gardening is you won’t know which is the best way to plant and take care of your garden until you try it. And if it’s false this season, you can restart it in the next one or next year. It’s never too late!
I hope the 10-step instruction of how to start a flower garden above is helpful for any gardeners to follow and get the best results.