Skip to Content

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 8 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 give it a try. You can do this

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

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

Spring Gardening in Arizona

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.

  • 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 Sun Seeker app (or similar). Allows you to see amount of sunlight each area receives. 
  • There should also be a water source nearby or within a hose distance.
How to Kill Bermuda Grass Without Chemicals Before Planting a Garden

Gardening for Beginners Step 2: Add a raised bed

Start small – you can always add more. A “4 foot by 4 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 grows. This article shares tips for designing raised bed gardens

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

10 Tips for Designing a Raised-Bed Garden Layout

Step 3: Set up a watering system

Some type of automatic watering system, along with 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. 

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.

How much soil will you need? This is determined by the volume of your raised bed or containers.  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. This article shares more information about the best soil for raised bed gardens

After adding the soil amend the beds with organic fertilizer. This is the recipe I use to add organic fertilizer to new raised beds. 

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. 

Best Soil for Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

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

Timing is crucial in gardening. Using a planting guide takes the guesswork out of what to plant and when to plant itLocal 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, these are the planting guides I recommend.

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

Read about the vegetables you would like to grow on 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. 

Wondering how to start your own 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.

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 the food your family already eats. Soups and smoothies are a great way to use vegetables from the garden.

Healthy Harvest

What do you want to read next?

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

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.

Maria A

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Hi, I have 2 raises beds on top of a little space of dirt that I have and I want to add another one ... but I don’t have any more space expect on top of my brick pathway.. would I just put cardboard boxes on the bottom?? Can I add a raise bed on top of brick??

Angela Judd

Saturday 8th of August 2020

Hi. As long as the water drains into the brick pathway and doesn't puddle up you should be fine. You could put cardboard down, but you don't have to unless there are issues with weeds in the brick area.