Top 10 Gardening Tips for Beginners

Do you have a green thumb but are wondering where to start? While gardening can seem overwhelming for beginners, we’ve put together our top 10 gardening tips to help guide you through it.

1. Become familiar with some basic garden terminology

Like any industry, there is some ‘garden jargon’ that you may across. Some key terms that you should become familiar with are:


The leaves of a plant.


A plant or tree that sheds its leaves in winter.


A plant or tree that retains its leaves all year round.


This involves removing dead flowers from a plant so that it continues to produce new ones. Deadheading prevents the plant from going to seed and will mean that it flowers for longer.


Annuals are plants that germinate, flower, set seed, and die all in one season. Their ultimate goal is to reproduce themselves (set seed).


Perennials are plants that live for several years. Perennial plants are usually hardy enough to survive through the winter months, thus making them a long-term and affordable addition to the garden.


Sowing is the act of planting seeds.


When seeds start to grow.


Hardscapes refers to the built structures in your landscape, including decking, pergolas and outdoor entertaining areas.


Softscapes refers to the plants in your landscape, such as trees, flowers and lawn.


Propagation is a technique of creating new plants from existing plants.


Transplanting is moving a plant from one space to another, i.e., digging up a tree from your front garden and moving it into your back garden.

2. Invest in the basics

While you don’t need to go out and buy every gardening tool on the market, you will need to invest in some essential tools to assist your everyday gardening. This includes:

  • a watering can
  • gardening gloves
  • hand trowel (think of this as a small shovel/ spade)
  • shovel
  • rake
  • secateurs

watering can

3. Understand your garden’s soil type

The type of soil in your garden will impact the plants that can thrive in your garden. It also determines the degree of care and maintenance they will need. There are a variety of common soil types in Australia; these include:

  • clay
  • gravel
  • sandy

Clay soils are heavy soils that retain a lot of moisture and have plenty of plant nutrients. However, when they dry out and crack, they can become difficult to dig. Gravel soils, however, have little ability to retain water or fertilisers and are naturally very low in plant nutrients. Sandy soils are similar to gravel but can retain more moisture, especially as the soil’s depth increases. Sandy soils are particular well-draining, and plants native to areas consisting of sandy soils have adapted to survive. One of the best soils are loam soils – they have excellent drainage that allows plant roots to penetrate downwards. Particular plants are better suited to specific soil types, so be sure to know your garden’s soil type before purchasing any plants.

4. Keep your soil healthy

It’s essential to keep your soil healthy as this will give your plants the best opportunity to thrive. Please have a chat with your local nursery as they will be most acquainted with your garden’s soil type and how to keep it healthy. One easy way to keep your soil healthy is by adding compost to it.

5. Compost green and brown waste

Compost is an excellent way of keeping your soil and plants healthy while reducing wastage. Composting is relatively easy and can be done in the smallest of backyards. We’ve created a guide on everything you need to know about composting – click here to read. There are some composting products on the market which are perfect for beginner gardeners. We recommend checking out Subpod’s composting system and Seed and Sprout’s indoor composting bin.
Subpod Compost Bin
Subpod In-Garden Compost System
Seed and Sprout Compost Bin
Seed & Sprout Indoor Compost Bin

6. Know your climate

Eight different climate zones can categorise Australia. It’s essential to know your climate as plants thrive in specific environments. For example, Plumeria rubra (Frangipani) cannot withstand frost and can only be grown in warm, coastal environments. The map below indicates Australia’s eight climate zones:
Climate Map

Source: Your Homes – Australian Government

7. Know what sun exposure garden your garden will receive

All plants need sunlight to grow, and all differ in the amount of light they will need to thrive. Understanding the sun exposure that your garden receives will help you select the right plants for your garden. The different types of sun exposure include:

  • Full sun – direct sunlight for at least 6 hours of the day
  • Partial sun – direct sunlight for 3 – 6 hours of the day
  • Partial shade – receives sunlight for 3 – 6 hours of the day but needs protection from the hot afternoon sun
  • Full shade – requires less than 3 hours of direct sun per day 

8. Select plants suited to your garden’s needs (and your lifestyle)

Once you know your garden’s soil type, sun exposure and climate, it’s time to start buying plants – yay! When purchasing plants, ensure they are suitable for all of your garden’s needs as they are unlikely to thrive otherwise. You will find this information on the tag of any tree, plant seed or seedling. Some plants require a high level of maintenance while others require minimal – the care level must reflect your lifestyle. If you’re somebody who doesn’t like to spend much time in the garden or is often away, a garden made up of low-maintenance plants is essential. If you love spending time in the garden, then feel free to invest in plants that need a little extra love and care. This way, you’ll have time to nurture them.

9. Maintenance is key

To keep your plants healthy, it’s essential to upkeep regular maintenance and provide your plants with the care they need. This may involve mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds, fertilising or watering plants – all play their roles. Regular maintenance will prevent any long-term issues or damage.
Gardening tips

10. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!

While gardening takes time and patience, sometimes you may require some extra help. Whether this is removing large trees, maintaining plants or designing/constructing a brand-new garden, reaching out to garden experts like arborists or landscape service companies can be highly beneficial to your garden. At Ian Barker Gardens, we provide landscape design, construction and maintenance services. To learn more about how we can help you create your dream garden, click here.