Choosing the Right Type of Gardening for You
We get such a small amount of time for gardening here, with such short summers, that there is a lot of preparation and excitement come springtime. We are busy planting seedlings, preparing soil with fertilizer, deciding where to place our rock gardens and where to place our planters – we like to switch it up a bit each year!
Of course there are so many different types of gardening. Some people will prefer the quiet tranquility of a flower garden. Others will enjoy the satisfaction of growing their own food in a vegetable garden.
Still others will prefer growing their plants in containers for the purpose of saving space, being able to easily relocate their plants, or for other various reasons. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common types of gardening, and the pros and cons of each type.
The Type of Garden You Choose Will Depend on Several Factors
If you live in an apartment, it may be impossible for you to have a large vegetable garden, no matter how much you may desire one. If you work 60 hours per week, caring for a very large rose garden might be a little too much to handle.
If you’re confined to a wheelchair, taking care of a complex outdoor garden might be a bit beyond your capabilities. Ask yourself these questions:
- How much space do I have available for gardening?
- How much time do I have to care for my plants?
- How physically capable am I to care for my garden?
- How much money do I have available to start my garden?
- What is the main purpose for my garden?
You need to look at all of these factors and weigh them against the available gardening options. You can look at the various types of gardening, and start by marking off the ones you’re not interested in.
Then you can eliminate those that would be impractical or impossible for you to take on. Then you can look at your remaining options and decide which one you’d prefer to try. Of course, you don’t have to be confined to a single choice.
You could easily combine a few different types of gardening into your system. But the main point is that you should be careful not to take on something you’re going to regret later.
Herb gardening is a relaxing type of gardening. If you’re looking for a very simple type of gardening that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, herb gardening is probably a great choice.
Most herbs are very hardy, and they don’t require a lot of ongoing maintenance.
If you choose mainly perennial herbs, you will have herbs that come back year after year with very little additional work. As long as you keep them watered and weeded, they should keep growing relatively well without a lot of additional work.
Herb gardening is great for children and elderly individuals, as well as busy people who don’t have a lot of time to care for picky plants. It may not be right for someone who prefers a challenge, or for people who prefer a more in-depth type of gardening.
- Doesn’t require a lot of time.
- Relatively simple to do.
- Doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion.
- Plants are generally hardy and easy to care for.
- Can be a bit boring for people who like a challenge.
- Might not be good for people who prefer more complex forms of gardening.
Vegetable gardening requires a lot more work than herb gardening. In fact, vegetable gardening can be one of the most time-consuming types of gardening. Many vegetables require watering and fertilizing at regular intervals, and may require a lot of different types of maintenance.
You may have to pinch suckers, prune growth, or even manually fertilize flowers with a paint brush! Some vegetables are hardier and less picky than others. You can find some types of vegetables that don’t require a lot of work at all.
So you can still find vegetable gardening a fun and relaxing hobby if you’re careful to choose varieties that don’t require constant attention. Some people may especially enjoy vegetable gardening because they love the satisfaction of growing some of their own food. A fantastic resource for vegetable gardening is The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible.
It can be very rewarding to have a hand in raising something you eat, especially if you can feed your entire family with it. Some people may really like organic vegetable gardening, because they like knowing that the food they’re growing is safer for their family than store bought produce.
They may also enjoy the fact that they’re taking care of the environment by not using harmful chemicals. Vegetable gardening is great for people who have a relatively decent amount of time to care for their garden, and who are physically able to do so. We don’t have a large garden plot, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover the magic of container vegetable gardening! This book helped me out immensely with getting started.
Vegetable gardening can be back-breaking work, so it’s important to be sure you can physically handle this type of work. It may not be very good for people who aren’t in good physical condition, or people who don’t have much time to care for their plants.
- Satisfying, because you grow your own food.
- Peace of mind knowing where your food is coming from.
- Challenging for people who really enjoy that.
- Plants are attractive as well as useful.
- Might be too difficult for people who aren’t in good physical condition.
- Can require a lot of special care for the best results.
- Generally quite time-consuming.
Growing flowers is a relatively simple task, especially if you choose hardy varieties. It can be as easy as tossing some wildflower seeds out, or it can be as complex as carefully planning the location of every single plant, every color, and the heights of all of the plants in relation to one another. It’s a very flexible form of gardening.
Flower gardening is good for people who are looking to add something aesthetically pleasing to their yards. It’s especially nice for people who just want to add some beauty and style to their yard, and people who really enjoy the classic look of a flower garden. Each year, I get a feeling for what sorts of colors and appearance I might like – and yes, each year it is different. I find that each new variation brings a different feel to the home each time, and that keeps things exciting. I’ve gotten loads of ideas from this great book.
Flower gardening might not be right for people who enjoy a more modern look. Some people think flower gardens look a bit old-fashioned, and just don’t like them. Also, if you have hay fever or allergies, you may need to avoid flower gardening.
Flowers carry a lot of pollen, and people who have allergies might find it a bit difficult to care for their plants if their allergies are acting up. Some forms of flower gardening can be very difficult. There is a wealth of information regarding the history of flowers, and the work they do for us in The Reason for Flowers. This is a relatively new book, and I have found it to be an incredible read for my children as well. They love learning how all things in nature work!
Rose gardening might be a bit too complex for many people, because roses can be rather finicky. Some types of flowers are especially particular, and may be quite difficult to grow.
- Great for providing aesthetics to a yard.
- Very flexible, allowing for easier or harder gardening.
- Less responsibility than growing food plants.
- Some varieties of flowers are very finicky and hard to grow.
- Might not be good for people who prefer a more modern look.
Container gardening is a very flexible, very adaptable form of gardening. It can easily be adapted to almost anyone’s style of gardening. You can grow very hardy herbs, delicious vegetables, or finicky flowers.
You can have your container garden indoors or outdoors. You can make it as easy or hard as you wish. And you can even choose how much time it takes to maintain it! Container gardening is also really good for elderly people, handicapped people, and children. If you wish to explore further the multitude of ways that container gardening can be created, you absolutely must check out The Bountiful Container.
Since the containers can be placed on surfaces of almost any height, it’s great for people who have trouble bending or stooping to care for plants in a traditional garden, or for those who are confined to a wheelchair.
It’s also very good for children and beginning gardeners, because you can plant very small areas, and it won’t require a lot of maintenance. Another great benefit of container gardening is saving space. If you have a very small yard or live in an apartment with no yard space at all, you can use containers to grow plants on your patio or porch.
You can grow almost anything in containers. Dwarf fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, and flowers can all be grown in containers, so it’s wonderful for growing almost anything you would normally grow in a traditional method. So far, these Smart Pots are the absolute best we have found for container gardening. Being in such a dry region, we need these pots because they are incredible with aeration and lead to a much healthier plant.
Container gardening is good for most people, but it might not be suitable for people who have very large families with a lot of mouths to feed. The start-up cost of buying containers and soil can be prohibitive for some, but you can make containers out of many different things if necessary.
- Doesn’t require a lot of time.
- Relatively simple to do.
- Doesn’t typically require a lot of physical exertion.
- Extremely flexible.
- Can be done even by people in apartments.
- Great for elderly and disabled.
- Can be expensive to buy the containers and soil to start.
- Not as good for people with large families to feed.
Raised Bed Gardening
Raised bed gardening is the method of growing plants in beds that are raised up off the ground. Typically, large rectangular boxes are fashioned out of large lumber, such as 4x4s. The boxes usually don’t have bottoms, so plant roots can grow down into the underlying soil.
Raised bed gardening is great for people who have little space, because plants are compacted into a much smaller area than they would be in a traditional garden. In traditional gardens, the path between rows takes up about as much space as the rows of plants! But raised bed gardening can help change that.
Even if you do have a lot of space, you might prefer growing in raised beds so you can grow more in the same amount of space. Raised beds can often double or triple the amount of produce harvested from an area of land! The Gronomics Elevated Garden Bed is fantastic. (Next on my list is the Algreen Vertical Living Wall planter. Apparently it can be used inside, and I would be in heaven having this in my kitchen. It just might make the winters seem a little less long!)
Flowers aren’t generally grown in raised beds, because they don’t look very natural. Herbs and vegetables are more commonly grown in raised beds. Raised bed growing was created not only to save space and produce more from the same space, but also to help people who have very poor soil.
If you live in an area with very bad soil, you can simply buy a very high quality potting mix and place that in your raised beds, and you instantly have much better soil than you did before! It also has the added benefit of reducing weeds, making for less work overall.
- Great for people with poor soil.
- Boosts production from the same amount of space.
- Can make certain plants easier to grow than normal.
- Can still be challenging for people who aren’t physically capable.
- A bit expensive to set up at the beginning.
If you’re still not settled on a particular type of gardening, you might start with one of the more simple forms of gardening like herb gardening or container gardening. This will be an easy way for you to tell whether or not you even enjoy gardening, and how much time you have to devote to it. I definitely suggest starting small if you are quite new to gardening.
When you get the hang of it, you will easily be able to add more techniques and methods – and if you’re anything like me, you just might find yourself hooked!