How to start a home garden

Jackalyn Beck

For the best results, start a spring garden after the last frost.

Home gardening for beginners

From enjoyment to self-sufficiency, there are many reasons to start a garden. Plus, with the popularity of gardening on the rise, it’s now easier than ever to start a home garden. From victory gardens to hydroponics, there are gardening options and resources for everybody.

Once you decide to start a garden, it’s fairly easy to get growing. Mainly, you need to decide what kind of garden you want, when to start it, where to put it and what to put in it.

Different kinds of gardens

There are many different kinds of gardens to choose from. Each comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re starting a garden from scratch, weigh your options. However, if you decide you want a different kind of garden later, that’s alright. Each growing season is an opportunity to learn, so it’s natural to change and improve over time.

Raised beds

Raised garden beds have been rapidly growing in popularity. They tend to stay warmer for longer, so they can potentially lengthen your growing season. They’re also better for people with back pain or difficulty bending.

The primary drawback of raised beds is that they have to be built or bought. This means they require some time and commitment up front. However, if you plan on gardening for a long time, it’s worth the extra effort.

Container gardens are similar to raised beds but are a bit more adaptable. Rather than one large bed, they’re made up of multiple, smaller containers. They’re great options for apartments or people who move often.


In-ground gardens are classic. While all gardens can be considered in-ground, these gardens go directly into the soil without being raised up. This makes them especially easy to start.

When starting an in-ground garden, make sure to test the soil. Soil tests can tell you what kind of soil you have and how to balance it and can help you choose vegetables suited to your situation. Often, it’s a good idea to supplement the soil with compost or other organic matter.

If you decide to go with an in-ground garden, consider which method you want to use. No dig is one method, but there are many other ways to approach an in-ground bed.

Other kinds of gardens

While raised and in-ground gardens are the most popular types, there are plenty of other options. There are frequent innovations in the gardening world and many kinds of non-traditional gardens.

Tower gardens are similar to container gardens and great for people with limited space. They’re particularly good for herbs and leafy greens.

Hydroponic or aeroponic gardens are great options if you have limited outside space. However, both require a lot of trial and error, so they aren’t recommended for complete beginners.

There are also hotbox or greenhouse gardens for people who live in particularly cold areas. This can be a great option for extending your growing season.

Another subset is themed gardens, such as butterfly or Zen gardens. While themed gardens tend to be in-ground, they don’t have to be. Tower gardens are a particularly popular option for herb gardeners.

Where should you put your garden?

The south side of a house is the best place to put a garden, because it allows plants to get light as the sun sets and as it rises.

Regardless of what side of the house you put your garden, make sure it isn’t covered by shadows. While partial shade is OK, most vegetables prefer to have lots of sun. Look for an area that gets around eight hours of sun each day.

If you have a large area to choose from, it’s easiest to position your garden somewhat close to your house or shed. By doing so, it’s easier to get your materials and tools. Check that your house doesn’t cast a shadow that limits how much light the garden receives.

When is the best time to start a home garden?

The best time to start a spring garden is after your last frost. Depending on where you live, this usually happens sometime during or after March.

If you’re going to start plants from seeds, you need to start them early. However, if you’re a beginning gardener, buying transplants can be a good way to start. Starting plants from seeds requires a bit more planning and patience.

If possible, work with a localized planting calendar — it helps you know what to plant and when.

What vegetables should you plant in a spring garden?

Good resources for localized information include your extension office, The Old Farmers’ Almanac and other gardeners. Being a part of a local community of gardeners is a great way to get advice on what grows well in your area.

Root vegetables like radishes and beets are hardy and easy-going. When grown at home, they also tend to taste distinctively different than store-bought produce.

Most varieties of peppers are easy to grow and space-efficient. They can also be grown or transferred inside if your space is limited. This makes peppers an especially great option for container gardens.

Arugula and other salad greens are a good choice for beginners. Spinach and kale are also easy, but arugula is particularly fast-growing. However, be careful not to plant them too late in the season or it can go to bolt (when a plant goes from growing rapidly to going to seed).

If you don’t want to make too much of an investment, green onions can be grown from scraps, though growing them from seeds or starts usually yields better results.

Jackalyn Beck is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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