Starting a garden can be a daunting undertaking, especially if you’re new to the gardening game. Novice gardeners often report ‘not knowing where to begin’ as the number one obstacle preventing them from taking action. But starting a garden shouldn’t be intimidating! With the right advice, time, and effort, every one of us can cultivate our own piece of paradise. Start the process off on the right foot by getting clued up on the gardening fundamentals below. And if you need some extra encouragement, remember, the Wonder experts are here to help. (And gardening in South Africa is our speciality!)
Every successful undertaking starts with a strong plan of action – and gardening is no different. The first step is to do nothing. (Yes, you read correctly!) Before doing any gardening work, simply look and learn! Take time to get to know what you are working with as this will help pave the best way forward. While observing your outdoor space, consider all these factors.
Understanding which bits of the garden are sunny and shady is very important when choosing plants. It is a good idea to take the time to monitor your garden throughout the day, as areas that seem shady in the morning may receive very harsh afternoon sun and this has to be taken into consideration before landscaping. It is ideal to do this over the weekend when you can spend the whole day at home taking notes!
Gardens can serve many purposes. If you have children, you may consider a larger lawn for playing. If you have dogs, you might choose hardy shrubs over delicate flowers for your garden beds. Home cooks might prefer a garden full of fresh herbs and vegetables. While entertainers might be happy to switch out the veg for a paved patio or braai area. A garden fit for purpose will deliver the most rewards, so be sure to plan one to suit your lifestyle!
It’s a good idea to be realistic about how much time and money you would like to spend maintaining your garden. Large deciduous trees drop leaves, roses need to be pruned, lawns need to be mowed regularly, and less hardy plants need to be watered during hot summer months. Those who cannot afford a garden service should weigh up their available time and commitment to maintenance before starting a garden. With the right design and plant variety choices, even the maintenance-adverse can still enjoy a beautiful garden!
Gardening in South Africa brings certain resource challenges with the recent drought conditions faced by many parts of the country, it’s a good idea to consider your access to water. If you are not lucky enough to have access to a borehole, Jo Jo tanks or natural body of water, choose plants that are indigenous or hardy as these are more drought tolerant.
Now that you’ve taken the time to learn the lay of the land and determine the purpose of your garden, it’s time for the fun part – designing your dream space! The most important thing to remember is that this is your garden and it should work for you. There is no right or wrong way to garden, but if you are a little stumped, following the below tips might help you get started.
The best garden is one your family will love spending time in, so create spaces where your family can congregate and enjoy! Consider things like seating areas, a fire pit for entertaining, and swings for the kids. You can join your home to these spaces by laying pathways so there is a natural flow between the inside and outside.
A well-designed garden will make use of a focal point (or many in a larger space) to draw the eye and establish balance in the design. Introducing hard-landscaping features like fountains, birdbaths, terraces, benches, statues, and pathways will make a noticeable impact on your garden design. Local garden shops have a wide variety of options so you will be spoilt for choice!
These are the basic tools you will need to start gardening:
As you go along, you may add additional tools to your arsenal – but these are essential to start.
First you need to prep your garden beds for planting, using the correct tools, fertilisers and soils. Once your garden beds are ready, take a trip to your local garden centre and select your plants. It’s a great idea to discuss options with the garden centre professionals as they will be able to advise which plants are easier to grow and which are fast or slow-growing.
Before planting anything new, make sure your beds are properly prepped. Dig the soil over with a garden fork as deep as you can manage, but at least 25 to 30 cm. If the soil is of poor quality, you may need to add Wonder Organic Vita-Boost. If you are unsure of the next step, speak to the staff at your local garden centre. Or reach out to our friendly Wonder plant nutrition experts – we would be happy to help you!
To encourage your plants to grow and flourish, remember to enrich the soil with a quality fertiliser product.
Wonder Plant Starter All Purpose, for example, would be an excellent choice. If your beds tend to be dry, consider digging in Wonder Waterwise Crystals to reduce watering frequency by 50%
It’s best to buy your bigger perennial plants first, as these will form the bones of your garden. Perennials are plants that last multiple seasons while annuals are plants that flower for one season and then die. Hence your garden should consist of mostly perennials.
Larger perennial trees and shrubs should be planted at the back of the garden, as they lend structure to the design. Remember to consider how big they will grow and leave some space for the future.
Once your bigger perennials are settled, you can start adding smaller perennials and even pretty flowering annuals to fill in the gaps. Remember that a garden is a living canvas and things change constantly! But that is the beauty of gardening.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment – it’s all part of the learning process. Sometimes plants will thrive and other times they may need a little help, but rest assured that the Wonder team has your back.
When you’ve got the right gardening advice, anything is possible! (When it comes to growing, mowing and sowing, that is.) Grow the right plants at the right time with help from our monthly gardening calendar.