Whether you watched your neighbour setup a beautiful terrace garden and want one yourself, or you’ve become more environmentally conscious and want to set up your own garden, terrace gardening is a great option that can give you immense satisfaction. If however, thoughts of moving heavy pots, digging in the dirt, transplanting and repotting sounds intimidating, rest easy; this guide is filled with tips for newbie gardeners that will make terrace gardening fun and easy to do!
Tips for Newbie Gardeners
Setting up a terrace garden is exciting. When you see images of the beautiful gardens of fellow garden enthusiasts, you can easily get carried away and go overboard with your organic garden shopping. One of the most common mistakes newbies make is to buy lots and lots of plants right away. Don’t fall into that trap.
First, you need to do your homework and read up information on what plants you can grow. You need to check what sort of soil each plant requires. You also need to know how to keep the plants growing long after you’ve set up your garden.
Buying plants and decking up your terrace is the easy part, but if you don’t know how to maintain them, they will all end up dead sooner than later and you can get deeply discouraged. You will then hit up all the gardening forums you can find on Google and get even more confused with all the tips and suggestions offered.
When you are starting off, always start with a few pots, make sure you do your homework on the plants you plan to grow, the soil needed for them and when you are seeing some progress with them, you can move on to expanding your garden.
Plan Your Garden
Forget your computer or laptop. Take a pen or pencil, a sheet of paper and prepare a plan. Take into account your terrace setting, how much of exposure it gets, which part of your terrace gets more exposure, how easy it is to access water and which layout will give the maximum benefit for your plants.
If you are prepared to water your plants twice a day, you can place your plants in direct sunlight, otherwise place the plants in more shady places and where there is indirect sunlight. Also remember to plan your garden according to your proposed budget.
Choose the Right Plants
If you are buying plants in a nursery, avoid buying plants that are too tender or weak as they have lesser chance of survival. Also look out for plants that have dried leaves, half eaten leaves, droopy leaves, dotted leaves or plants with insects on them and avoid buying them.
Try to pick plants that are easy to grow and maintain. Some flowering plants require a lot of pampering and grooming before you start to see them bloom. Certain variety of roses die in the summer due to the excessive heat, while some fruit trees may take five to seven years to start yielding fruits. If you’re a newbie gardener, growing such types of plants and trees will discourage and demotivate you.
Plants that require very little maintenance include different varieties of cactus, bulbs, rhizomes, and tubers as well as evergreen plants. Start with them before you proceed to bigger plants.
Finally, avoid buying exotic and rare plants if you are a newbie.
Add a Touch of Glamour
You can deck your garden with various garden ornaments to make it look aesthetically pleasing. A resting Ganesha or meditating Buddha, some colorful birds or a gloriously lit spring may accessorize your garden really well. However, they are most likely to be expensive.
You’d rather spend that money on setting up your garden well. In the initial stages, if you want to decorate your garden, you can set up some bird feeders and bird baths. You can find some scrap from your home like old CDs, metal chimes, colorful satin ribbons, cracked sculptures and you can arrange them in a creative way in your garden.
Also Read: 10 Good Reasons to Start a Terrace Garden
Pick the Right Plant Containers
There are different types of plant containers available in the market. You can use various scrap items from your home as well to set up your plants. Picking the right ones for your plants is highly important. A Coca Cola bottle may sound like a good planter option, but there are drawbacks as well. Here are some pointers you need to keep in mind when choosing your planters.
1. A large size plant container can retain moisture in the soil and keep your plants happy for longer periods of time. Plus they require less watering.
2. Plastic plant containers are cheaper and you can be tempted to buy them. If you must buy plastic containers, limit them to a few ones. Plastic containers are non porous and can clog the water affecting your plants, not to mention that they also get destroyed sooner rather than later in the blistering Indian sun.
3. Ceramic or cement containers will last longer compared to plastic pots and are a good option to consider. So are earthen pots, which are porous and allow the soil to breathe, but the disadvantage with them is that they break after a few years of use.
4. Don’t pick up fancy colorful, and unique containers that look great but are expensive. You must first get the hang of gardening before you make such an investment.
Avoid Expensive Sprinklers and Drip Irrigation Systems
Today, there are many professionals who can set up your terrace garden for you with sprinklers, drip irrigation et al. Automating your gardening job is not the purpose of gardening. Plus installing such systems can cost you a lot of money, something you should not be spending until you are sure that your passion for gardening is going to extend for a long long time. A garden hose or a bucket and pail should be fine for the newbie gardener.
Invest in a Good Garden Shade
Although this is optional, installing a garden shade can save you from suffering the pangs of losing your delicate plants in its early growth. A good strong awning cloth can prevent the plants from suffering from the excesses of the sun and rain, retain moisture, prevent leaf burns and drying and keep your plants happy without too much effort on your part.
Fertilizing plants with the right nutrients can be a tricky thing for a newbie. If you are buying fertilizers from online stores, make sure to follow the instructions for adding them to the soil exactly as specified.
When you are applying cow dung, read up on all the guidelines about how to apply them, which plants to apply them on and so on. If you are making your own organic compost, make sure that you apply them in the correct proportion.
Applying fertilizers incorrectly can kill your plants overnight as I have learned over the years. So be very very careful when applying fertilizers.
Weed and Trim Regularly
One of the annoying things that a gardener needs to deal with when it comes to plants is getting rid of the weeds that grow delightfully in the plant container. You must take time to weed out these villains regularly to prevent them from sucking up all the soil nutrients needed for your main plant.
Also know which plants need trimming and prune them regularly. If you are afraid to trim your roses or pull out the leaves in your jasmine plant, chances are you’ll have a plant that simply won’t flower.
That’s quite a bit to chew on! So take your time and carefully read through these tips for newbie gardeners. It will be very helpful for you when you’re taking your first baby steps to setting up your terrace garden.