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8 easy plants for the garden

Image shows lavender, which is an easy plant for the garden
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to make your outside space look fabulous this year, it’s not hard - you just need to do a little planning and choose to grow easy plants for the garden. If you are new to gardening, the secret to success is keeping it simple.

It also makes sense to keep your equipment to the essentials - if you decide that gardening is a hobby you want to spend time and money on, you can always expand your tool kit as time goes on. If you have a lawn, you’ll need a mower of course - read our guide to the best gas lawn mowers (opens in new tab) or the best electric lawn mowers (opens in new tab) before making your purchase. 

Other useful tools include a garden fork and spade, a hand trowel and fork, watering can and/or hose. If you want to grow from seed you may need some compost and some seed trays or pots. But these should be all you need to get started - as well as your choice from the easy plants for the garden that we have listed below. Happy growing! 

RHS-trained gardener Annette Hurt (opens in new tab) explains why growing your own plants can be so rewarding. “One of the benefits of growing your own plants is that you get to raise them from start to finish, so you know exactly how they have started their life, and what chemicals, if any, have been used. Plants you’ve grown yourself benefit from growing in your local environment and are not subject to artificial conditions, unlike some plants grown and bred for commercial sale.

8 easy plants for the garden

1. Ornamental Alliums 

Alliums are a member of the onion family, and are sold as bulbs ready for you to plant in a border or container.  They come in a wonderful array of colors, shapes and sizes - though the purple globes are probably the most common - and take very little looking after.

Professional gardener Annette Hurt (opens in new tab) says ornamental alliums are easy plants for the garden because “they thrive in many soil conditions, are drought tolerant, require little maintenance, succumb to few pests, and are excellent for cutting.’’

2. Lavender

Aside from its fabulous scent - from both its scented flowers and aromatic foliage - lavender has plenty more to appeal. Its flowers come in shades from white through pink to deep purple, and it is virtually indestructible. It will thrive in a spot that’s in full sun where other plants will wilt. Plant in hedges leading up to the front door for fabulous effect. Do remember to prune after flowering to stop it becoming woody.

Easy plants for the garden

Gardening can be intimidating, but there are plenty of easy plants for the garden to brighten up your backyard. (Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Spiraea

With its stems crammed with tiny flowers, in hues of white, pink, purple and more - this is a shrub that creates impact. Depending on the variety and conditions, spiraea can grow in mounds from 2ft to 10ft high, so are perfect for filling out spaces. This is a bushy, deciduous shrub, which will reward you with a change of foliage colour before it finally loses its leaves in fall/winter. Generally pest and disease free - it may need some pruning to keep it in check.

4. Daylilies

Daylilies (hemerocallis) are quite spectacular - they come in a variety of wonderful colors and shapes. They are also relatively easy to divide, so after a few years you will be able to create more plants for your yard or share them with friends.

Professional gardener Annette Hurt (opens in new tab) says Daylilies are easy plants for the garden because “although they thrive best in moist but well-drained soil, in reality they are not that fussy about soil conditions and are happy to be planted in both full sun and part shady conditions.’’

5. Rudbeckia

These sunny plants, which look rather like tall golden daisies with a brown or black centre, are actually related to the sunflower. They are easy to grow and love a sunny or part-shaded spot. The more common varieties boast bright yellow petals, but they also come in tones of orange, copper, and brown - perfect for harvest-time flower arrangements. Not only are they easy to grow, as they aren’t fussy about soil type, but they will happily self seed. 

What the expert says…

RHS-trained gardener Annette Hurt (opens in new tab) says, “Growing your own plants can be more cost effective as you can often divide existing plants or take cuttings from obliging friends’ gardens. Growing from seed opens your world to numerous varieties and color possibilities often unseen on the local garden center sales bench. Getting immersed in raising and nurturing your own plants can bring an immense sense of well-being and achievement as you see them flourish in your garden. It brings you back to nature as you watch your young seedlings or cuttings develop into beautifully fledged adults in your garden.’’

6. Pansies

The cheery faces of pansies come in all kinds of colors - from yellow, orange and white, to pink, purple and black. You’re sure to find something to tie into your garden color scheme. They are happy in pots or containers, and are also resilient enough to withstand winter temperatures in many areas, offering some color when other plants have faded away (if you live in a very hot area, they will prefer to be in the shade for at least some of the day). You can grow from seed, but they are also good value if you buy plants from the local nursery.

7. Mint

Mint is a versatile herb - use it to make mint tea, drop a few leaves in a jug of homemade lemonade, or add to any number of desserts for a taste of summer. Not only is it one of the most easy plants for the garden, it actually needs to be stopped from spreading! Because this herb throws out runners, if you don’t keep it in check, it will take over a herb garden. The secret is to plant in a large pot, and then place that in the ground, so that it is contained. As well as the usual mint, there are varieties such as spearmint, apple mint - and even chocolate mint.

8. Tomatoes

If you want to have a go at growing fruit or vegetables, you can make a great start with tomatoes. As long as you water them regularly, they will reward you with a harvest of fruit that tastes better than any you will pick up at the grocery store. Grow from seed or buy young plants from your local garden center. Opt for a plant that offers small tomatoes - such as cherry tomatoes - for your first try at growing. 

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Naomi MacKay has been a freelance writer and editor for the past 20 years. She previously made the move from local newspapers and consumer technology magazines into the gardening press as Assistant Editor at Garden Answers magazine, and has also worked for the Royal Horticultural Society, and writes garden columns for a number of publications.

With contributions from