Gardening can be a rewarding lifelong hobby, but it requires patience and commitment to start a garden. To achieve that picture-perfect garden, you'll need to be consistent with watering, trimming, pruning, and general garden maintenance. A well-kept garden is visually appealing. What's more, the act of gardening does wonders for your mental health — mycobacterium vaccae, a bacteria in soil, is known to trigger the release of the brain's feel-good chemical, serotonin. To get going with your first garden, there are a few things to take into consideration, presented courtesy of our guest blogger, Carrie Spencer of The Spencers Adventures.
Planning Your Garden
Planning your garden requires a few big decisions. When you select an area for a garden, you need to consider how much light and shade the area gets. The climatic conditions of your area are also a key factor in deciding on the type of plants to purchase. For inspiration and ideas for plants, try taking a stroll through the naturalistic McCrillis Gardens.
A crop of sunflowers and colorful blooms won't fare well in a shaded area. And a tropical garden look requires plenty of water. A beautifully landscaped rockery with cacti would require full sun.
This can be quite a decision-making process, so you might want to enlist the help of a landscaping service that can give advice on the best area for your garden.
Tilling Your Garden
Before you start planting, you need to cultivate (till) your soil to ensure the garden bed is rich with minerals. Tilling is the process of breaking up the soil and removing weeds. It releases natural minerals from organic matter when the sod is turned over.
Buying the Right Gardening Tools
Buying the right gardening tools is the easy part of gardening. Investing in good quality, brand name gardening tools will make life easier and safer in the long run. Start off small with a collection of essential garden tools, and build as you go along. A few such tools include garden gloves, shears, loppers, a spade, a shovel, a rake, a hand trowel, a watering can, and a wheelbarrow. The American Plant Store close to the creek in Bethesda is a good place to start, as it has a great collection of high-quality garden tools.
Selecting the Right Plants
Believe it or not, some plants just aren't a match and won't grow properly if planted next to each other. When you've decided on the type of plants you want, do some research about plant compatibility. For example, basil and tomatoes grow well together, and onions and mint shouldn't be planted near asparagus.
Keeping Wildlife Out
A healthy garden attracts an abundance of bees, birds, and other small creatures. Unfortunately, small critters see the vegetable crops in your garden as a reliable food source. Your best bet is to get a trustworthy contractor to install a fence around your new garden. Read reviews on sites like Angi.com to make sure they're licensed and insured. Bear in mind that the cost will be dependent on the materials you choose.
Maintaining Your First Garden
Starting your first garden will benefit you on many levels, from aesthetics to mental health. Once established, remember to keep up with garden maintenance to ensure plants aren't destroyed by pests and fungi.
To purchase local honey harvested in the DC Metro area, check out Bee America's very own Tulip Poplar Honey.