The Rich brothers, David and Harry, share their step-by-step guide on how to get into gardening for beginners and millennials, including the best easy-to-care-for plants and simple gardening trends to master.
STEP 1: What do you want to use the garden for?
Think about how you actually want to use the garden first. Do you want a space to read your book? Entertain? Grow vegetables? Or cut flowers? People use gardens in a broad range of ways, so it’s important to pinpoint what you want out of the garden then tailor it around that. Always go in with a plan. Don’t go to the garden centre and buy every flower.
STEP 2: What are the conditions of your garden?
You need to get to know your garden. What aspect it is? The aspect of a garden is what direction you are facing when you look at it and where the sun rises and sets in relation to it – is it south-facing? Or north-east? You need to figure out how the sun hits it, which areas are in full shade and which are in full sun. The difficulty comes with choosing the right plants for the right place – once you’ve worked that out, it all gets easier.
STEP 3: Choose a trend that’s easy to acheive
Gardening beginners are in luck because, at the moment, there’s a huge trend for a more naturalistic approach. It’s about letting go a bit (but not too much) and allowing things to become a bit wilder and more natural, so you don’t have to constantly be on top of it. You don’t need formal hedging or immaculate rose beds that take a lot of maintenance, clipping and dead heading.
Laying something like meadow turf at the back of the garden is a good idea. It can take a bit of shade, you really don’t have to cut it more than twice a year, it looks beautiful and, most importantly, it’s brilliant for pollinators and wildlife. People think gardens are a lot of maintenance, but they don’t have to be if you pick the right plants.
STEP 4: Choose plants that are easy to care for and hard to kill
Grasses are great for beginners and have been on trend for a while. They are still going strong because they add height, provide interest throughout the year are very easy maintenance.
- Karl foerster
- Deschampsia cespitosa
- Molinia transparent
Adding to that naturalist trend, decent sized shrubs give you loads of interest and are easy to care for. Plus, because of their size, they can help control the space in the garden, like divide off sections to make them feel cosy, block views or create lovely focal features.
Native shrubs not only support native wildlife, but are often a lot cheaper because they’re grown locally.
- Viburnum opulus (native)
- Hazel (native)
- Hawthorn (native)
STEP 5: Consider potted plants if you have limited space
If you’re using pots, you’ve got to think about slightly more drought-tolerant plants, because they don’t get the same amount of water they would in the ground.
If you have a sunny spot, then you can’t go wrong with lavender, sedums or hardy geraniums.
If you have a shady space, try things like helleborus. They’re great as they’re evergreen but are also one of the first perennials to flower in around January/February. They’ve got a lovely leaf form, too. You can have a lot of fun with the colours you choose.
Aster divaricatus is one of our favourites for a shadier spot – it’s a gorgeous natural perennial with a white flower and a dark stem. It’s a lovely naturalistic plant that sits quite effortlessly in a shadier spot.
STEP 6: Remember why you’re doing it
If you’re stressed at work, going home and turning on the TV may be relaxing, but it’s not re-energising or re-charging. Stepping outside for 20 minutes of gardening is much more beneficial.
We grew up in Wales so have enjoyed time outdoors our entire lives and we know how enriching it is. We say, if you lead a busy life, don’t get a dog, get a plant. The reason people get dogs is because they’re lovely things that give you so much pleasure, but they can be a lot of work. With plants, you can leave them and go to work for the day but you’re still looking after and nurturing something. We get so much enjoyment seeing things change through the seasons.
The Rich Brothers have teamed up with Amazon.co.uk to find the nation’s most creative gardens and inspire Brits to spend more time outdoors, making the most of the great British summer.