gardening basics for beginners

An old timers gardening tips for beginners

The health benefits of gardening are obvious, look at my 40 year old mate John. 


10 Basic gardening Questions with Answers on this page

  1. What's the difference between annuals and perennials? 
  2. What does Hardy or Non-Hardy (Tender) mean?  
  3. Sun or Shade tolerant plants?  
  4. Wet or Dry soil condition. 
  5. How big do plants grow?  
  6. Foot traffic. (being walked all over) 
  7. Type of soil in your garden. 
  8. Feeding your plants and soil. 
  9. Different types of gardens. 
  10. The health benefits of gardening .

For answers to these questions just scroll on down.

To keep the answers as short and brief as possible I'm linking to my articles providing more detail, if you want it. 


1 What's the difference between annuals and perennials?

Perennials are any plant living for at least three years. The term is also commonly used for herbaceous perennials which grow for many years (To compare: annual = one year, biennial = two years).

perennials that form large clumps up to 1.2m (4ft) in height.

Annuals  grow for one season, meaning that you will have to replant each year. Perennials grow for three or more seasons in a row. 
2 What does Hardy or Non-Hardy (Tender) mean?
Hardiness of a plant is usually divided into two categories: tender, and hardy. Tender plants are those killed by freezing temperatures, while hardy plants survive freezing—at least down to certain temperatures, depending on the plant.
3 Sun or Shade tolerant plants?
Most plants prefer either full sun or shade to thrive.  So it is essential to consider light conditions in your garden.  A shade-loving plant I/e forest or hedgerow plants can’t survive in the heat of the sun, and a sun-loving plant I/E most herbs can’t survive in the shade.  
Some plants like life in the sun, some prefer shade, some won't   plants for shade
4 Wet or Dry soil condition.
Most plants prefer either damp or dry conditions to grow successfully. Plants that prefer dry conditions mostly have silver or grey-green leaves to reflect the harsh rays of the sun and you will notice some have fine hairs on there leaves or stems, to trap moisture around the plant tissues.  
Plants like bog plants will thrive in the soggy areas of your garden, bringing interest and colour to parts of your garden where less damp tolerant plants can't be grown.
These are extremes and some plants will tolerate a bit of both.  Dry sandy soil   Boggy soil
5 How big do plants grow?
Check each plant’s full diameter and height before you buy to determine where it fits in your garden planting plan.  If you are planting in borders the big plants generally go at the back, if you are planting in containers choose plants that won't outgrow the space.
6 Foot traffic. (being walked all over)
If you are choosing plants for pathways like Woolly thyme or Chamomile check out the plants tolerance to foot traffic (being walked on)
 Some plants like to be walked all over, some crushed just now and then, some don't 
Some plants like life in the sun and sand, some prefer shade, some won't
Some plants root in clay some grow up and feel at home in loam.
 plants for pathways
7 Type of soil in your garden.
You can't change the soil type in your garden unless you use containers or raised beds. So choose plants whose family roots are in your type of soil. They'll be happier in their comfort zone. You can check out type of soil
You are more likely to find plants that suit your soil by buying from local growers rather than nationwide garden centres. 
Some plants root in clay some grow up and feel at home in loam.
8 Feeding your plants.
The essential minerals for healthy soil are  Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium explains how to keep your garden healthy. The positive effect of Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium on soil and the negative effect of a deficiency and signs to look out for and the remedial actions you can take. This page shows how to make compost


9 Different types of gardens. All covered here next Including Container Gardens, Flower Garden, Herb Garden, Organic Garden, Vegetable Garden, Container Garden, Water Garden or bog garden. Raised Garden, Children's garden. Water Garden or bog garden, Flower Garden.


10 The health benefits of gardening  are obvious, you saw the picture of my 40 year old mate John at the top of the page. Seriously though for many people, gardening provides the opportunity to burn calories and relieve stress without the hassle or cost of going to a gym. It's not just the benefits of exercise, sun and fresh air you get from gardening. The fresh fruits and vegetables are so much healthier and better for you and the environment, than the packaged well travelled stuff. Stuff you have to take with supplements to compensate for the natural goodness lost in packaging, air-miles and storage times. Gardening can also help reduce stress, anxiety, and even depression.


Help to choose the type of garden to start growing your own fruit and vegetable.

Some different types of gardens 

To keep this page as short as possible follow the links to my other pages with more detailed information.


Container Garden

A good way to start growing plants especially in a small garden or where the soil has been completely covered with hard landscaping. Plants can be grown in planters, flowerpots wheelbarrows or barrels. If the garden is shady use containers that can easily be moved to follow the sun.

Flower Garden

Cultivated for pleasure, shape, colour and scent. Try to plant flowers for different height, spread and all year round colour.

Herb Garden

A garden style for a herbalist or cook. Grow perennials and annual herbs in a dry sunny position for cooking, herbal tea and scent. Try to have the herb garden near a door or window to enjoy the scent herbs give off.

Organic Garden

Cultivated strictly without pesticides, chemical fertiliser or other non organic materials.  You will need a compost heap to feed the plants grown in organic gardens. These links go to pages on my site worth a read.  Natural pest control companion planting

Vegetable Garden

 The most common type of garden after lawns and flower borders is a vegetable garden. It used to take up all of the back garden, but from the 70s  onward a lot of the area has been paved over in most gardens, however, this still leaves room for planting your favourite vegetables. Or if all of the soil has been covered, try planting in containers.

Water Garden or bog garden.

Preformed pools and flexible pond liners make it easy to build ponds and Bog gardens to cultivate water plants in and bog plants around a garden pond

Raised Garden

Most plants can be grown in raised beds, very useful if you have a garden with poor soil or getting on a bit and can't easily bend.  The extra height makes seeding planting and weeding a lot easier.

Children's garden.

A space or container set aside for kids to sow seeds, and grow plants. It's important to give ownership of the venture to the kids to let them be responsible for the successes and maybe failures. 


Gardening  generally involves some design, but mainly focuses on cultivating fruit and vegetables or flowers including planting, fertilising, weeding. And the best bit harvesting and eating it in season. This is the stuff I have been writing about today. With some basic information on this page and to keep the article short I have linked to other pages on my site with more detailed information.

Gardening has changed a bit whereas the old cottage gardeners gardened to survive those days have mostly gone in the UK. We now grow stuff because we like to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and for our own enjoyment. You might find this article, written by an old gardener interesting and maybe helpful. It's toward the bottom of this page Cottage gardening  



Some interesting things about gardening.

A few interesting facts about gardening. 

  • Planting in a garden burns 177 calories in 45 minutes, weeding burns 157 calories in the same amount of time.
  • Just five minutes of gardening exercise outdoors can noticeably improve mood and self-esteem.
  • Gardening can support physical rehabilitation by retraining muscles and improving strength and coordination.
  • One 25 foot tree in a garden can reduce overall heating and cooling costs by up to 10%.
  • Being outside improves general health Human skin can make large amounts of vitamin D when exposed and the sun is high in the sky.

 Although it might seem that young people especially, are more interested in Facebook and Twitter than getting out of the house into the garden. Research shows that the twenty to thirty age groups spend as much time harvesting tomatoes in the garden as they do on Twitter. It also found that they spend 12 to 15 hours in their garden each month, with the average spend on gardening up on last year.

Almost a third of adults surveyed also said that they thought time spent outdoors was more fulfilling than time spent watching television or films. So if you are thinking about starting to grow stuff, you are in good company. Gardening is not just for the young, older people too can benefit from getting back out in the garden gardening for older people  

gardening with Eco friendly goals benefits the environment

 Gardening with Eco friendly goals in mind can greatly benefit the environment. Green lawn man with no goals in mind wastes the same amount of water in one hour as a family of four uses in a week. 

Mulching is an organic gardening technique using fine sifted compost from your heap to cover seeds, feed the lawn and spread the larger stuff around larger plants. This helps stop the soil drying out feeds the plants and enriches the soil and will help reduce water evaporation in soil by up to 70%. Gardening also helps reduce the household waste we send of to landfill. By composting coffee grounds, eggshells, vegetable scraps and more on a compost heap. To use as fertiliser for the garden we not only reduce landfill waste, but produce soil that is rich in the nutrients and microbes that plants need to be healthy, strong and more resistant to disease and it's better for the environment. 

This in turn reduces our dependency on factory produced fertiliser and is the main part of organic gardening.

Composting is easy you can use a basic compost heap in the garden or a worm-bin to produce liquid fertiliser, a tumbler, or homemade compost-bin.  How to compost  ECO gardening