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Start a DIY Garden

    Beginner’s Guide: 3 Ways to Create a Backyard DIY Garden

    Do you dream of growing produce? Are you wondering how to start a flower garden? Creating a DIY garden in your backyard is possible regardless of experience, and this beginner’s guide is designed to help.

    Garden location

    The first consideration when planning a DIY backyard garden is location. You need a site that provides enough sunlight for the types of plants you would like to grow. Most edibles prefer full sun, meaning six to eight hours of sunlight each day, however there are some varieties that will tolerate partial sun. By simply watching your backyard throughout the day, you can note which areas will get the needed amount of sunlight. It’s important to note that once trees get their leaves they will provide more shade. Additionally, be on the lookout for black walnut trees. Their roots produce a natural herbicide, juglone, that inhibits other plants’ growth. It is beneficial to choose a location close to the house which makes caring for the garden and harvesting the produce easier. Finding a spot close to a water source or easily reached by hose is also helpful for watering the garden throughout the growing season.

    Selecting your DIY garden type

    Once you’ve identified potential places for your DIY garden, you’ll need to decide on the type you’ll create. There are three primary ways to create a backyard garden.

    1. In-ground garden

    In-ground DIY gardens are planted directly into the ground soil. They are easy to implement, use the soil that already exists in your backyard, and are often the cheapest option. Start by mapping out the garden in the shape and size you prefer. Most vegetable gardens are square or rectangular to easily accommodate straight rows. Flower gardens can be found in nearly any shape. Next, remove the sod. Renting a sod cutter makes quick work of this task. A local rental store can be found using the tool above. The rental professionals will also be able to offer advice on using the equipment for your project. For small gardens, the task may be accomplished using hand tools. Keep that rental store information handy. It’s beneficial to work compost into the soil, and renting a tiller will cultivate the soil and work in compost at the same time. It is also an option to perform a soil test to see if any additional amendments would be helpful. With the soil prepared, you’re ready to plant. Seed packets come with row spacing guidelines as well as seed and plant spacing guidelines. Keep things simple and purchase starter plants rather than sowing seeds inside for those that need a longer growing season. Putting down a weed barrier between rows will minimize the need to hoe the garden throughout the season. Be sure not to cover any seeds you have planted. It works well to use cardboard with some soil on top to keep it in place, and the cardboard will break down over the course of the year to provide nutrients for the next growing season. Check your garden two to three times a week to see if it needs to be watered. Rain, heat and sun all play a role in how quickly it will dry out. Stick your finger an inch into the soil, if it’s dry it needs to be watered. Be sure to soak the ground to ensure the roots will grow deeper, and try to avoid the leaves when possible to minimize the risk of disease.

    2. Raised garden bed

    A raised garden bed is exactly what it sounds like, a garden that is raised. This is accomplished by building a structure—often made of wood—to hold the soil. Raised garden boxes can be built directly on the ground, or built with legs so those with mobility issues can garden with ease. A raised garden’s soil warms faster than that of an in-ground backyard garden, thus slightly extending the growing season. While raised garden beds can be bought, a DIY garden is easily achieved with a few tools and pieces of wood. Saws and other tools can be rented from your local rental store, and the staff can help you determine the right tools for the job. Determine the size and shape of your garden. Many online directions exist for various configurations. It is easiest to place the garden in a level area of your yard. Stepping into the bed will compress the soil, so plan to work from the edges with this DIY garden. Anything wider than four feet is difficult for most to care for and harvest from. Square and rectangular shapes are the most common and easiest to build. Be sure to choose untreated wood. Selecting untreated wood that is also rot resistant, like cedar or oak will give your bed a longer life. Once built and installed, cover the ground with newspaper and/or cardboard before adding in your planting medium. A 50-50 ratio of top soil and compost will do an excellent job of providing nutrients to your plants. You are ready to plant. Sew seeds according to package details, and keep things simple by purchasing starter plants rather than sowing seeds indoors for varieties that require it. Raised bed gardens can dry out more quickly than in-ground gardens so be sure to keep an eye on your DIY garden for signs it is too dry. Test by sticking your finger an inch into the soil. If it is dry, water well.

    3. Container and vertical gardens

    Container gardens and vertical gardens are great solutions for small spaces, patios, decks and other areas that receive adequate light. They are the easiest DIY garden to implement. Simply find a container that can rest on the ground or attach to a vertical surface like a fence. If you plan to attach a container to a permanent structure or placing it on a permanent surface, like a deck, be sure it won’t cause damage. Fill with a topsoil and compost mixture and you are ready to plant either from seed or with purchased plants. Container plants dry out faster than other backyard garden methods and often require frequent watering. With all types of gardens, keep an eye out for pests like aphids and take care of them right away.

    Frequently asked questions

    How do beginners start a garden? Beginners can start a garden by planning: How do I turn my backyard into a garden? To turn a backyard into a garden, begin by planning out the space and where garden beds will be placed, what types of garden beds will be used, and any landscaping needs around the backyard garden beds. How do I build a backyard vegetable garden? Build backyard vegetable gardens from wood, metal, or other materials. Many DIY raised garden bed plans exist. Rented tools can help make building the garden easier. Beginners, don’t be afraid to jump into gardening. Many resources are available to help you with your DIY flower garden or vegetable garden. Having a plan and renting tools to help you accomplish your tasks can turn your backyard DIY gardening dream into a reality. Contact your local, ARA-affiliated, rental store for information on available rental products to help you take care of gardening projects quickly and efficiently. To locate the rental store nearest you, use the Rental Store Quick Locator above. Related articles: 15 tips for DIY outdoor living spaces 5 Easy Outdoor Family Projects 5 Social Distancing Backyard Party Ideas