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Gardening for Beginners: How to Start a Garden in 8 Simple Steps

Gardening for Beginners How to Start a Garden in 8 Simple Steps

Thinking about starting a garden but aren’t sure where to begin? This post, all about gardening for beginners, is for you — with eight simple steps to help you start your garden

Does this sound familiar? Looking around my yard, I see weeds, overgrown plants, and a few dried-out pots I tried to grow tomatoes in last year. I think to myself…. “How am I going to grow anything here?” “What do I do first?” “How will I know what to plant?” “If I put time and money into a garden, will it be worth it?”

Read through these steps, and don’t be afraid to start a garden. You can do this

Thinking about starting a garden but aren't sure where to begin? This post, all about gardening for beginners, is for you -- with eight simple steps to help you start your garden. 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


Gardening for Beginners: How to Start a Garden in 8 Simple Steps


Step 1: Choose the best location to start your garden

The best spot is where it is convenient for you - someplace you will see and walk by often. The back of the yard behind the shed may get the most sun, but if you don’t see your garden regularly, you might forget about it.

The best spot is where it is convenient for you – someplace you will see and walk by often. The back of the yard behind the shed may get the most sun, but if you don’t see your garden regularly, you might forget about it.

  • Ideally, this spot gets morning sun – look for a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun (more is ok). You might need to provide shade in the summer in hot areas like Arizona. 
  • Check sun exposure using the Sun Seeker app (or similar). It allows you to see the amount of sunlight each area receives. 
  • There should also be a water source nearby or within a hose distance.
There should also be a water source nearby or within a hose distance.

Gardening for Beginners Step 2: Add a raised bed

Start small – you can always add more. A “4 foot by 8 foot” raised bed is a good starting point. Aim for a depth between 12 and 18 inches. It is easy to construct, and you can grow a lot of food in this size space. It is important that you can reach into the center of the bed without stepping on the soil. Add more raised beds later as your ability and experience grow. This article shares tips for designing raised bed gardens

I recently added this metal garden bed from Garden in Minutes to my garden. It comes complete with watering grids. This bed is an excellent choice for a first garden or to add to an existing garden.

I recently added this metal garden bed from Garden in Minutes to my garden. It comes complete with watering grids. This bed is an excellent choice for a first garden or to add to an existing garden.

Alternatively, use several large pots or half wine barrels for container gardening.

Alternatively, use several large pots or half wine barrels for container gardening.



Step 3: Set up a watering system

An automatic watering system and a hose for watering seedlings is best. Automatic watering can be simple, such as a battery-operated timer connected to your hose bib, with either a soaker hose or drip line going to the garden. Using a two-way splitter for a second hose is helpful for hand-watering new plantings and seeds.

An automatic watering system and a hose for watering seedlings is best. Automatic watering can be simple, such as a battery-operated timer connected to your hose bib, with either a soaker hose or drip line going to the garden. Using a two-way splitter for a second hose is helpful for hand-watering new plantings and seeds.

This article shares more information about how to water your garden correctly. I use watering grids from Garden in Minutes to water my raised beds. 

This article shares more information about how to water your garden correctly. I use watering grids from Garden in Minutes to water my raised beds. 

This article shares more information about how to water your garden correctly. I use watering grids from Garden in Minutes to water my raised beds. 

Gardening for Beginners Step 4: Add soil to your raised bed

One advantage of raised beds is you do not use existing soil. Once you add the perfect mix of ingredients to your raised bed, you are ready to plant. This one-time cost will probably be the most expensive part of beginning a garden. 

To fill the bed, mix equal parts of: 

  • Compost – use several different brands or make your own.
  • Peat Moss or Coconut Coir – makes soil lighter; helps with water retention.
  • Vermiculite – helps retain water and allows the soil to breathe.
One advantage of raised beds is you do not use existing soil. Once you add the perfect mix of ingredients to your raised bed, you are ready to plant. This one-time cost will probably be the most expensive part of beginning a garden. 

How much soil will you need? The volume of your raised bed or containers determines this.  A 4×4 bed that is 1 foot deep will require a total of 16 cubic feet of soil. Each time you plant, add fresh compost to your soil.

The Best Soil for Raised Bed Gardens

This article shares more information about the best soil for raised bed gardens

After adding the soil, amend the beds with organic fertilizer.

In the future, it’s important to have your soil tested each year. A soil test can determine the health of your soil. This is the soil test kit I use. It’s very simple to use. 



Step 5: Find a planting guide written for your area and follow it

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Timing is crucial in gardening. Using a planting guide takes the guesswork out of what to plant and when to plant it. Local extension offices and locally-owned nurseries are a great place to begin your search for a planting guide. If you live in the low desert of Arizona, I recommend these planting guides.

Visual planting guides for vegetables, herbs, fruits, flowers & vines.


perpetual HERB, FRUIT & VEGETABLE  planting Calendar for the low desert of Arizona zone 9b
  • PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists vegetables, fruit & herbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
  • HARVEST GUIDE: Photos show what may be ready to harvest that month.
  • Planting dates are for the low desert of Arizona (zone 9b).

Gardening for Beginners Step 6: Plant what you like to eat

Read about the vegetables you would like to grow on Growinginthegarden.com, so you understand growing requirements, when to plant, and when to harvest.  

Read about the vegetables you would like to grow on Growinginthegarden.com, so you understand growing requirements, when to plant, and when to harvest.  

Read about the vegetables you would like to grow on Growinginthegarden.com, so you understand growing requirements, when to plant, and when to harvest.  
Read about the vegetables you would like to grow on Growinginthegarden.com, so you understand growing requirements, when to plant, and when to harvest.  

Check new seeds and seedlings often – water as necessary to keep the soil moist. If newly planted seeds and seedlings dry out, they will die. 

How to Start Seeds Indoors: 10 Steps for Success

Wondering how to start seeds indoors? This post explains how to start seeds inside.


Step 7: Spend time in your garden each day

Take a walk around your garden each morning - preferably while the watering system is running. Take note of what is growing well (yay!), and observe problems while they are young and easily corrected. When you catch problems (pest, disease, watering issues) while they are small, they are easily managed. Find joy in the successes and learn from the failures.

Take a walk around your garden each morning – preferably while the watering system is running. Take note of what is growing well (yay!), and observe problems while they are young and easily corrected. When you catch problems (pest, disease, watering issues) while they are small, they are easily managed. Find joy in the successes and learn from the failures.


Step 8: Harvest and eat what you grow

Pick young and pick often - this encourages more production. Use the food you grow in the garden. Try new recipes and incorporate your garden harvest into your family's food. Soups and smoothies are a great way to use vegetables from the garden.

Pick young and pick often – this encourages more production. Use the food you grow in the garden. Try new recipes and incorporate your garden harvest into your family’s food. Soups and smoothies are a great way to use vegetables from the garden.


Questions about how to start a garden? Ask me in the comments.

Questions about how to start a garden? Ask me in the comments.

10 Reasons to Start a Garden Today

Not sure if you should start a garden? Here are ten reasons why you should!


If this post about how to start a garden was helpful, please share it:




Pamela Fair

Thursday 7th of July 2022

I live in Mesa, AZ. I am starting my garden in the ground. My "association" doesn't allow raised beds. I have put in topsoil that is very rich, not from a bag. I will put mulch on top of that. Thank you for your information and help. Good information for this gardening zone is sparse. I'm going through all your information. Thank you for being there.

Angela Judd

Saturday 9th of July 2022

Sounds like you're off to a good start. Best of luck to you.

Lea V

Saturday 25th of December 2021

What about gardening in ground without a garden bed?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 4th of January 2022

You absolutely can do that as well. Most of my experience has been in raised beds for growing vegetables. That is the simplest way to begin in many areas without good soil for vegetable gardens.

Erika Brady

Friday 11th of September 2020

My mom's always struggled with starting a garden since she's always been taking care of me and my siblings. Since my youngest sister started college this year, my mom should finally have time to create a garden where she can grow her vegetables and any other plants she wants. I'm glad that you mention choosing a convenient spot that you can easily see and that also gets the right amount of sun. This would be helpful for her, and maybe it would even help her to find a local garden center to purchase the plants from.

Landscaping Tauranga

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

These are some great things about the gardening for beginners and how to start a garden in 8 simple steps. I really loved it and thank you very much for sharing this with us. You have a great visualization and you have really presented this content in a really good manner.

Miriam Stewart

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Hi Angela where in arizona did you get your soil from? I want to start a big garden but buying by the bag at the store is expensive.

Angela Judd

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Hi Miriam, I got the compost for my soil from Arizona Worm Farm. Beginning September 1st Arizona Worm Farm will have a "Growing in the Garden" blend - our own Mel's Mix for Arizona. It will be available by the bag and by the yard. They are mixing it on site.