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Check out our useful hints and tips articles to help you get the best out of your garden.

Seven tips for the first-time gardener

Potted geranium with gardening tools. Photograph by Fran Linden

Gardening is a wonderful pastime that, in the main, is a very pleasurable experience.

The rewards of gardening are many, such as sitting in your beautiful garden and enjoying the flowers and the wildlife they attract, and of course breathing in the delightful smells. Not everyone sees themselves as green-fingered, though, but don't let that dissuade you from having a go.

So, here are seven useful tips that are sure to get you on the right track and feeling like you can have a go at creating your own mini-oasis.

1. Location, location, location!

As with real estate, the location of your garden is everything! You'll need to consider issues like water supply - such as installing an outside tap or a water butt to collect rainwater - and understanding which parts of the garden or sunny or shady. It won't hurt to know the pH of your soil, too, so that you can select the plants that best suit the conditions.

2. Prepare the ground

A few weeks before planting, add some organic matter to the soil - compost or fertiliser will do the trick, and help to ensure that your precious plants get the best possible start.

3. Plant when the time is right

Every plant has an ideal season for being planting. Do some research before investing in seeds or bulbs, and check the labels at the garden centre. Also, remember to pick plants that suit the climate and conditions of your garden.

4. Don't waste money on tools straight away

Before investing a fortune on equipment, think about where you might find cheap gardening tools. A car-boot sale is one option, or someone you know might give them away for free because they're no longer using them and need the storage space.

5. Begin by choosing low-maintenance plants

If you want to try growing some edible plants, go for herbs such as lemon balm or mint, which grow quickly and don't need much space. Both can be quite invasive, however, so plant them in a pot or raised bed rather than risk them taking over your garden.

Vegetables like radishes, salad greens and garlic are also a good choice, and of course prove very useful when it's time to be creative in the kitchen.

6. Get rid of weeds and aphids

Weeds and aphids can be annoying plagues in any garden, but are often quite easy to prevent or manage without having to use chemical pesticides. For example, white vinegar can kill certain weeds (and works great on sunny days), while insecticidal soap is good for controlling aphids.

7. Have realistic expectations

If this is the first time in your life that you've planted a garden, don't expect perfect results right away. Don't feel bad if, at first, some of your plants don't end up as healthy as expected. Keep it in perspective and have fun while you try.

So, armed with some gardening basics, it's time to get started! Head outdoors and start planning your garden, then seek further advice from your local nursery where you can pick up many wonderful plants and tips while you're there.

By adding a beautiful garden to your home you also add a sense of achievement to your day and, better still, will attract birds and other wildlife that you'll have the pleasure of observing every day. When you're ready you can go further with your gardening research and, who knows, before long you might be challenging the experts.

Author bio: Tauseef Hussain is a blogger and a friend and he works at QS Supplies. You can follow him on twitter @usef4u

Photo credit: Fran Linden

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