How to Start Outdoor Plants


Starting plants from seeds is an inexpensive way to grow a variety of different types. While many plants thrive when started inside, a few do best when started outdoors. Beans, wild flowers and many cool season crops do best when direct seeded into the garden as they don't handle transplanting well. Preparation for outdoor planting starts in fall. Having the bed prepared and ready for planting both saves time in spring and ensures the plants can be sown at the correct time.

Step 1

Prepare a well drained garden bed in full sun unless you will be starting a shade plant in spring. Remove all garden debris from the bed and apply a three-inch layer of compost over the soil then till it in to a 10-inch depth to aid drainage. Cover the bed in a straw mulch until spring planting.

Step 2

Loosen the soil with a hoe immediately before planting. If the soil is wet, forms clumps or sticks to the hoe, allow it to dry out more before planting. Otherwise finish loosening up the soil and prepare to plant.

Step 3

Sow the seeds in the garden bed following the depth and spacing requirements detailed on the seed envelope. Generally, sow seeds to a depth twice that of their width except for small seeds, which are sown directly on the soil surface then covered with a one-eighth-inch layer of soil.

Step 4

Install any stakes or trellises immediately after planting. Install before seed germination takes place to prevent root damage from driving in stakes later.

Step 5

Apply a one- to two-inch layer of organic mulch around plants once they begin growing to preserve soil moisture and temperature. Water when the soil begins to dry. Less water is needed in spring and more frequent watering is necessary during summer heat.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid planting before recommended on the seed envelope. A frost can wipe out an otherwise healthy plant. Protect plants from unexpected freezes with row covers or by placing buckets over them.

Things You'll Need

  • Power tiller
  • Hoe
  • Compost
  • Trellis or stakes
  • Mulch


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Planting the Vegetable Garden
Keywords: planting seeds outdoors, direct seeding preparation, starting a garden

About this Author

Jenny Harrington is a freelance writer of more than five years' experience. Her work has appeared in "Dollar Stretcher" and various blogs. Previously, she owned her own business for four years, selling handmade items online, wholesale and via the crafts fair circuit. Her specialties are small business, crafting, decorating and gardening.