7 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Garden: A Beginner’s Guide

by John Griffith

Starting your garden is an excellent way to connect or reconnect with your home. However, if you weren’t blessed with a green thumb from birth, it can be challenging knowing where to start.

There are seven questions you should ask yourself before you turn over a single shovel full of dirt or plant a solitary seed.

woman picking in garden

Do I have all the essentials that I need?

As with any project, you need the right tools to get the job done. For starting a garden, you need the following tools, which you can find at retailers like GardenTap.

  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Garden trowel
  • Grow kits
  • Pots

Though lists like these might seem intimidating, once you’re in the saddle, you’ll be eager to add to your gardening supplies collection. Coming to your new growing space prepared will make the entire process easier on you.

gardening tools and soil

What planting zone is your home in?

The USDA has created planting zones based on average temperatures, climate, and length of seasons. You may need to check out which planting zone you are in to make sure the seeds or plants you put in your garden have a fighting chance of yielding a harvest. The size of the zones and where each of them reaches will surprise you.

For example, growers in northwestern New Jersey are in the same planting zone as growers in southeastern New Hampshire. That means that if you are in northwest New Jersey, the start of your growing season is later than the rest of New Jersey. If you are in southeastern New Hampshire, the growing period starts earlier than the rest of New Hampshire.

Where does the sun fall on your plot?

This question is vital to plant and shade the garden accordingly. You do not, for example, want cool-season plants to languish under the harsh summer sun.

On the other hand, warm-season vegetables can eat up the summer sun. If possible, you want the garden to face the south as it will receive the most sun during a summer day.

Have you matched plants to maximize growth and production potential? 

Some vegetables grow better with other, specific types of vegetables. Tomatoes, for example, grow best with radishes and basil. Colder weather peas grow great with celery and cucumbers.

If you can match your garden vegetables to their companion plants, you increase the likelihood of your success.

growing green tomatoes

Are you growing root vegetables?

These include but are not limited to potatoes, beets, onions, and garlic. Each of these plants has special spacing needs as well as care needs. That said, the root fare you grow yourself just tastes better than the root vegetables you buy in the store.

What is the pest situation?

There are a lot of pests that view gardens as their dinner buffet. In just about every place a garden can be planted, pests can be an issue. You should investigate which pests your garden is likely to see and what ways are available to control them.

What vegetables do your family members like?

While you may want to plant some vegetables that are not universally popular, you should grow most of your garden according to the preferences of those you live with and yourself. For example, if you all love tomatoes and have limited space, maybe a tomato and companion vegetables can be the dominant plants in your garden.

variety of vegetables

Wrapping up

Planting a garden is physically, mentally, and emotionally rewarding. The ‘fruits’ of your labor will be worth it when you see and taste your bounty during harvest season.


woman watering plants

John Griffith

John Griffith is a young, passionate journalist. Writing has been John’s hobby ever since he was a boy. He has worked in some of the UK’s most successful news portals over the course of his professional career but found his forever home at Archzine.