Gardening Tips for a Successful First Year

Ask Miss Jean!


Jean Lovell, long-time Resource Central volunteer and former master gardener, tackles your gardening questions!

Submit your question(s) for Miss Jean to:

Q: Now that I picked up and planted my Garden In A Box, what do I need to do to give it a successful first year?

A: Start with reading the Garden Info Sheet and Plant & Care Guide that came with your Garden In A Box. After that, a little mulch, regular watering and consistent maintenance is all you need to do to make your garden thrive. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun while you’re at it!


Mulch is one of the most important ingredients for a happy garden; it retains moisture, reduces weeds and regulates soil temperature.

-Spread 1-2″ deep throughout the garden bed.
-Leave 1-2″ clearance around each plant to prevent crown or root-rot.
-A well mulched garden shouldn’t need mulching again for several years.


Consistent watering is essential for plants to establish their root systems during their first and second year of life.

-Water as deeply and infrequently as possible.
-Wet the entire root zone.
-Monitor the soil moisture by hand: stick your finger 2-3″ into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time for water!
-Don’t forget to water during winter months too when temps are above freezing.


Weeding isn’t simply done for a prettier garden; it leads to a healthier garden too! Weeds compete with your plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight; they also crowd other plants’ roots, and camouflage pests & disease.

-The trick to weeding is to be thorough and fastidious!
-Weeding is easiest just after watering or rain.
-It is important to remove them before they flower and produce seeds.
-Make sure to get the entire root whenever possible.
-Avoid accidentally weeding your Garden In A Box plants by marking any varieties that are late to show in spring or grow dormant in mid-summer.
-Some of my favorite weeding tools include the fishtail weeder (for plants with long tap roots), the circle hoe (great in tight spaces) and the Hori Hori (used as a weed puller, digging tool and knife).


Most plants enjoy a “hair cut” in the fall or spring. Reference your garden info sheet for plant specific care instructions.

For Flowering Perennials:
-Deadheading (removing dead and spent flowers) inspires new blooms and encourages plant growth.
-It also discourages plants from going to seed (or bolting).
-Clip the stems as well as the flower.
-Add winter interest by leaving a few of a plant’s last blooms to go to seed.

For Grasses:
-Remove withered leaves as they appear.
-Most can be left standing through winter as food for birds.
-Cut back most varieties in spring, before new growth appears.

Check out “Garden Prep, Installation and Maintenance” for additional details on how to create a healthy and happy garden!