A new garden requires careful planning before digging into the project. Starting small is a good idea if you're new to gardening. A small, manageable garden the first year allows you to get comfortable with the process. Then expand the garden each year to match your expanding gardening skills.
Determine what type of plants you wish to grow. Each plant requires different growing conditions, including the amount of sunlight, the type of soil and the level of moisture.
Identify the location for the new garden. Choose a location based on the amount of sunlight, soil type and traffic patterns in the yard, avoiding main activity areas or pathways. Mark the corners of the garden area with wooden stakes. Stretch string between the stakes to create boundaries for the garden.
Remove the grass, weeds and other ground cover, using the string as a guideline. Use a spade or shovel to cut the sod. Place the blade underneath the sod to remove it.
Assess the type of soil in the garden location. Test the soil by squeezing it into a ball. Soil that doesn't hold its shape is likely too loose. Soil that breaks apart easily from the ball is just right. If the soil doesn't break apart easily, it likely has too much clay. Commercial soil testing kits offer another option for testing the nutrients present in the soil.
Add compost to the soil to add nutrients for the plants. Compost can also help amend poor soil. Purchase compost from a garden center if you don't have your own compost pile. Use a tiller to mix the compost with the soil. Remove any rocks or other debris found while tilling.
Plant the selected flowers or vegetables based on the specific recommendations for each one.