A Spring Gardening Shopping Guide for Non-Green Thumbs

A Spring Gardening Shopping Guide for Non-Green Thumbs

Did you know that the opposite of a green thumb is a brown thumb? To be honest, all this talk about colored thumbs is leaving me a bit pale.

However, I’m gearing up to work on sprucing up our back patio so we have a lovely space to enjoy outdoors this summer. We moved last year and it’s been a busy spring trying to get acquainted with our new space.

I’ll share more about what we’re growing late – hint: we’re growing our own herbs for tea! – but let start with first things first: shopping. Before digging in – pun intended – you’ve got to stock up. Here’s some tips to get you started.

spring gardening shopping guide


“The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.” – Confucius

As much as it pains me to say, to have a good garden you’ve got to have the right equipment. Now, that is not license to go out and spend thousands on lots of junk – the right choices are better than just having garage full of things you don’t use.

What is the best basic garden equipment to have? Here’s my shortlist (thanks to Plum Deluxe readers on Twitter for sharing your opinions):

  • Gloves
  • Leaf rake & small hand rake
  • Round-headed shovel & small hand shovel/trowel
  • Japanese gardener’s knife (can’t wait to try this – a new one to me)
  • Garden scissors
  • Extra soil and/or mulch for planting

When buying tools, look for coated metal or wood – paint is often used to disguise poor quality materials.

Tip: If you have tools you aren’t using, or need something for a one-off project and don’t want to pay for it, check out the American Community Gardening Association database of community gardens, many of which have shared gardening tool programs.

gardening tools


When it comes to gardens, there’s always a need for useful planters – a nice planter can mean the difference between a upscale backyard getaway and a drab DIY garden. Planters can also give you extra space – and personally, I like having planters and then leaving lots of empty green space for picnics or sunbathing. It all depends on your space.

Unfortunately, when it comes to hearing the word “planter,” my mind jumps immediately to old-school drab planter ideas. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

planter ideas

Planters come in all shapes and sizes, but don’t feel like you have to just take what’s on the shelf. Pick a wooden planter and paint it gold, silver, or even use chalkboard paint (just consider how wet your local climate is!). Wood never goes out of style, and you can stain it or paint it should you get tired of it after a few seasons.

For an upscale look, choose a planter style that is simple – let the color, pattern, and plants in the planter do all the hard work.

Tip: Check out our Upscale Upcycle pinterest board – we have lots of ideas for planters and garden containers that are recycled and luxe. Perfect if you want something different.

Plants and Seeds

This is the part of my spring DIY project I’m the most excited about, as sometimes I feel like choosing plants can sometimes feel like choosing wine – we pick just based on favorite colors or how the label looks.

I suggest you go in with a plan of what parts of the garden you want to fill. Some aspects of the plan to consider:

  • Color – you want to balance a variety versus some deliberate themes
  • Texture – plants need to blend together nicely, so think not just about each individual flower but what it looks like next to others
  • Empty Space – unless you’re planning a grand olde English garden, consider leaving a few empty spaces
  • Functional use of space – do you want to have some herbs or other edible plants, such as a vegetable garden patch? Are you going to have full garden areas and sitting areas?

Think about how your space is going to look from the road (curb appeal!), from the windows in the house (always nice to have a view), and how the space looks when you’re sitting in it – after all, that’s the idea, to have a space to enjoy.

Final thought: when in doubt, grab some wildflower packets. They are my FAVORITE thing to plant, and you can just sit back and let Mother Nature take over. Just keep up on your weeding and otherwise, grab a cup of (iced) tea enjoy your garden.

A Spring Gardening Shopping Guide for Non-Green Thumbs

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is the founder and creator of Plum Deluxe. He authors our award-winning weekly email newsletter, The Blend and curates our popular organic tea of the month club.

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