How to Prep and Cultivate a Garden in Your Backyard

Person in rubber boots turning garden soil with a pitch fork

One of the lovelier aspects of having a bit of land is the ability to create a garden. The land doesn’t need to belong specifically to the gardener. The “backyard” can be a community garden that belongs to a neighborhood. Wherever the garden is, few things are more satisfying than watching it produce the flowers, fruits, and vegetables that the gardener planted themselves. Here are three tips for preparing and cultivating a garden:

Clear Your Garden Space

The first thing to do is to find a place where a garden can be successfully grown. The gardener should find out whether the soil in the area drains well or becomes swampy with every rain. If they have time, they can monitor the amount of sunlight the area gets throughout the year. The gardener should also know or find out if the area is above underground pipes or cables or above the septic system if there is one.

After the area is chosen, mark the boundaries and remove weeds and grass. Remove trees if necessary. Frank’s Tree Service explains that when you clear your land of dead trees, stumps, or other debris, you are able to take that unusable land and make something beautiful with it like a garden. Then, test the soil, add amendments if needed, and turn it over with a garden fork or tiller.

Fertilize the Garden

There are several ways to fertilize, or add nutrients to the soil in a garden. The gardener can use compost, manure, or inorganic fertilizers. Organic mulches such as wood chips and pine needles also break down over time and help to fertilize the soil.

The three nutrients found on bags of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, always in that order. Nitrogen promotes the health of leaves, phosphorus supports flowers, fruit, and roots, and potassium supports the overall health of the plant. A gardener who’s interested in fruit and flowers should buy a fertilizer that has two times as much phosphorus as the other nutrients. FertilGold also says that fertilizers should have plenty or carbon and nutrients to support microorganisms which help plants grow. 

A good rule of thumb is to use two to three pounds of inorganic fertilizer for every 100 square feet of the garden. It is 10 times that much for organic fertilizer such as manure.

Pick the Right Plants

One of the most important parts of landscaping is choosing plants that are appropriate for your climate and your yard. When picking plants, you must take into account your soil, sunlight and shade, how much water the plants will get, and more. Though most fruit trees and vegetables like full sun for most of the day, there are plants whose need for sunlight vary. Hostas, for example, thrive in shade, as do astilbe, barrenwort, and lily of the valley.

Make sure that you have the appropriate tools to cultivate and care for the different plants in your garden. Even if you choose to lay down sod and grow a simple, lush lawn, there are lots of tools you need to ensure your grass thrives

Planning and cultivating a garden is hard work, but it’s also a joy. It provides exercise and can be done by people of all ages. Adding a garden to your backyard can help to bring your family together for a great activity.