When I moved to the South ten years ago, I fell in love with the beautiful blooms and fresh veggies of the spring and summer seasons. I couldn’t wait to grow all this beauty for myself! I dove right in, but of course, it did not come easy. I’m excited to share some tips I’ve learned in my own backyard, through trial and error, as you set out to start your own first newlywed garden!
The type and scale of gardening that makes sense will largely depend on the space you have to work with. Here are my best recommendations for a few different scenarios…
If you have a small patio or balcony:
If you’re hoping to grow vegetables in containers, you’ll need six to eight hours of sun a day. If you’re in a more shady spot, look instead for plants and flowers that are fans of the shade. You can easily spot these at your home improvement store because they are under the tented areas of the outdoor area vs. the varieties in the open sun!
Recommended container-grown vegetables for a sunny patio: cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs like basil and chives, lettuce, and radish.
Tip: Purchase soil bags labeled “potting soil” for container gardens. This soil is specially created to help retain water longer vs. traditional garden soil. Look for food-safe varieties if you are growing consumables.
If you have a yard:
If your new home has some room to grow, give square foot gardening a try. A gardening kit such as this one will be the perfect start to your first vegetable garden. My own first year of gardening, I started with two 4×4 kits and grew tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and peppers. Every year after, I’ve added a bed or two — and now have 10 beds with over 115 square feet of growing space! Yes, you could say I really enjoy this gardening hobby :)
Raised beds in Lara’s garden.
Cucumbers, carrots and green beans are favorites for canning! These are pickled veggies from Lara’s garden.
Wherever you decide to place your raised bed, make sure it’s near a water source so you can easily give your plants a drink.
Tip: If you are a DIY kind of gal, you can purchase untreated cedar wood planks at your local home improvement store and have them cut to create your own 4×4 raised bed (or any size configuration) for about half the cost of a kit.
If you are interested in growing flowers:
I tell friends the best flowers to grow are ones that are offered at your local home improvement store. The varieties will be specific to your growing area and more likely will thrive in your environment. While I love the look of sweet peas, they would never tolerate our warm Nashville springs and are much more suited for my friends in the north!
Hydrangeas are always a great Southern favorite and especially wonderful if you love the idea of cutting them for arrangements in vases in your home. Limelight Hydrangea grows well in sunny spots and produces dozens of branches of lime and white blooms. Come June, my home is brimming with vases of the branches!
I’ve also had great luck with zinnias and dahlias because they generally tolerate the hot summers and will bloom until the first frost in November.
Tip: For a better and longer investment, look for flowering plants that are listed as perennials so they will come back year after year.
The best part of gardening besides enjoying the fruits of your labor? Finding friends who enjoy it with you, too! Our founder, Lara Casey, and I love to chat all things garden.
If you’re eager for more gardening tips, Lara just wrote a great three-part gardening series on her blog that dives even deeper into this topic. From how to get started, to her favorite resources, and even a sample garden plan, you’ll find lots of growing tips over there.
Of course, if you’re looking for a place to track your garden growing wins and adventures, give my very own Joyful Garden Planner a try!
I’m so excited to see what you dig into this season in your own garden! Have a garden question you’d like answered? Drop it in the comments below. You can follow along with Lara’s garden adventures at @GraciesGarden and my own garden at @JoyfulGardenPlanner.