Advice for the amateur gardener on how to develop a green thumb

When summer gets into full swing, many amateur and experienced gardeners go out to get their hands in the dirt. If you are new to gardening or don’t have much of a green thumb, you can still cultivate success with a little planning and knowledge. Take a look at these tips below to get started on a great garden.


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  • determine how much sun and shade are available
  • take wildlife into account
  • care for your soil
  • decide what types of plants you want
  • your background research from credible sources

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  • take information from just any source
  • try to grow or prune plants out of season
  • overlook how your plants will grow
  • over- or under-water your plants
  • limit your possibilities

[publishpress_authors_data]'s recommendation to ExpertBeacon readers: Do

Do determine how much sun and shade are available

Before you even look into what types of plants you may want in your garden, first determine how much sun and shade are available at different points during the day. Do you ever get full sun? How about at least partial shade? Most plants have some type of requirement for sun and shade in order to properly grow and thrive. Check with your local landscaper, local garden center, state agriculture department, or other trusted resource on what types of plants work well in various conditions.

Do take wildlife into account

Regardless of if you live in a rural, suburban, or urban area, there will always be some type of wildlife that may come into contact with your garden. Squirrel, deer, and birds are notorious for nibbling on plants and seeds, and you don’t want any creature, however cute, to derail your hard work. Consider putting a scarecrow in your garden or erecting a fence around the perimeter to discourage some pests. There are also natural wildlife repellents on the market, but you can also look for animal-resistant plants that are aesthetically pleasing.

Do care for your soil

Making sure you have the right soil goes a long way in determining whether your garden thrives. If you are planning a garden in an area currently covered with turf, be sure to remove the turf first. Till the existing soil and then add soil booster to make it more conducive for a plant bed. You may also want to consider a pH soil test if you find your local soil lacking.

Do decide what types of plants you want

This may seem simple, but the possibilities for creating a garden are truly endless. Think about whether you want evergreens or deciduous plants that lose foliage in the winter. Many times, gardeners will do a mixture of both so that the garden has something growing in it throughout the year. If you are planting in front of your house, consider plants that are more structured or evergreen, as people will see these more often.

Do your background research from credible sources

Do your research before you ever start planting in order to ensure you have a garden full of plants that will thrive in their location and that work well together. Your local garden center or landscaper is a great place to start, and your local library will have plenty of books to guide you in the right direction. Remember, too, that local universities with agriculture programs and state departments of agriculture will have websites full of information on what to plant, and when and where to plant your garden.

[publishpress_authors_data]'s professional advice to ExpertBeacon readers: Don't

Do not take information from just any source

Just because a wealth of information exists on how to plan and care for a garden does not mean that all the information is credible. Stick to people who have experience in gardening and other resources that are tried and true, such as your local landscaper, professionals at nurseries and arboretums, and your state agriculture department. You don’t want to end up with a garden full of plants that overrun each other or wither because you don’t have the right information to care for them properly.

Do not try to grow or prune plants out of season

For the most part, plants other than evergreens will grow and thrive only during certain times of the year. Depending on what you plant, you will also need to keep track of when to prune your plants. In general, evergreens are typically pruned April through September, flowering plants are not pruned until they have bloomed (any time of year) and low-growing groundcover should be pruned in January or February, depending on your winter weather, before buds start sprouting. Some plants, like beautiful azaleas that flourish in the spring, are only pruned once per year. Remember to check with your state agriculture department for appropriate times to prune – they likely have a chart that provides information on different types of plants, when they need to be pruned, and how often they need to be cared for.

Do not overlook how your plants will grow

When determining how many plants to plant in your garden and how to space them, don’t overlook how they will grow. Many plants start out small, but will eventually get very tall, spread out or both. If you place your plants too close together when you start your garden, you will get a bed that is overcrowded, where plants are competing for resources and will not thrive.

Do not over- or under-water your plants

Water is essential in keeping your garden happy and healthy, but over- and under-watering are problems faced by many gardeners. Under watering dries your plants out and deprives them of the moisture they need to survive, but over-watering can drown your plants. A good rule of thumb to follow is to use five gallons of water per week for new shrubbery and plant material (equivalent to one inch of rain).

Do not limit your possibilities

Even if you are new to gardening, don’t limit your possibilities and don’t be afraid to try something new. Look for a wide variety of shapes and colors to make something that is both interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Consult a gardening expert to see if even exotic plants might be a good fit for your garden. Regardless of what you choose to plant, explore and find something that will take you out of your comfort zone and make others take notice of your hard work.


By taking the time to plan ahead and take into account your available space and type of area you live in, you will be able to get a great start on a beautiful garden. Remember, factors like climate and wildlife may be somewhat out of your control, but there are measures to take to ensure that your plants stay safe and healthy in any situation. Plan out your plants, grab a pair of gloves, and get started on your path to gardening success!

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