Though growing plants, flowers, herbs or vegetables can seem overwhelming at first, starting a backyard garden doesn’t have to be complicated. It just takes planning, sunlight, water – and a little inspiration.

Let’s take a look at how you can bring your home garden to life, step by step.

1. Plan it out

Figure out what type of garden you want – it will help you determine where and how much to plant. For example, tomatoes, peppers and squash grow throughout the season, whereas carrots and radishes only produce once.1 If you opt for flowers, think about whether you want annuals that must be replanted every year or perennials that will grow back.

Next, pick out where to position the garden in your backyard. Outline the shape of it in sand or flour.2 Choose a spot with plenty of natural light since most plants need six hours of direct sun per day to thrive.3

2. Select your plants

If you’re a first-time gardener, choose easy-to-care-for plants. To get started, review which options appeal to you:3

Once you decide on your plants, research the planting conditions required. For example, tomatoes need a constant soil temperature of 65 to 80 degrees, which dictates when you should plant your seedlings – after the last frost.4

3. Build raised beds to keep out pests

A raised garden bed gives you more control of your plants, which is why it’s ideal for beginners. It allows you to get better drainage while keeping out weeds and pests.5

You’ve already chosen your spot, so get rid of the sod covering your planting area by digging and turning the topsoil. Or, you can smother the area with newspaper to create compost. (Note this process takes about four months to complete.)3

In addition to compost, you also can give the soil a boost with decayed leaves or manure.5 Lastly, create a barrier or fence around your garden bed to deter pests. You can use stones, lumber, metal, chicken wire, etc. – whatever materials are available to you.

4. Sow your seeds and spread mulch

Pay attention to what conditions your chosen plants prefer, especially if you decide to sow seeds. These need extra care to flourish – read the seed packet and follow instructions.

Another option is to buy young plants: Simply dig a hole in the garden bed and place them in.3

Once your plants are in the soil, spread a two-inch layer of mulch or shredded wood to help curb weeds and keep the soil moist.2 If you have a vegetable or annual garden, pick mulch that decomposes quickly. Perennials prefer a long-lasting mulch like bark chips.3

5. Water your new backyard garden

After you’ve laid down your mulch, water the garden thoroughly. Mulch may soak up some of the water, so err on the side of more moisture. Water seedlings and transplants daily until their roots take hold.3

Your watering schedule will depend on the climate in your area, how often it rains and the moisture level of your soil. Typically, it’s best to water outdoor plants in the morning because less water will evaporate. If your plants wilt during the day, they need more water right away.3

Keep an eye on your plants and make checking on your backyard garden part of your routine. You’ll likely find that if you’re good to your plants, they will be good to you, too.

When the growing season begins winding down, turn your focus to preparing your home for autumn.