FIRST-time gardeners can find thinking about kit and planting a little daunting. So PAUL CAREY gets some tips from the experts on essential tools and plants for the beginner.

IF YOU have never picked up a garden fork or planted a new evergreen, then you could be missing out on one of the most relaxing, enjoyable and rewarding pastimes available.

Not only can it be relatively cheap to maintain a bright garden, but once the initial work is done, then if you’ve planned it right, you can keep your garden looking pristine with relatively little maintenance.

With the worst of the winter behind us, keen gardeners can now start creating their plan of attack to leave their garden looking stunning come summer.

But if you’ve never taken an interest before, then don’t worry, as we’ve got some simple tips and ideas to help you on your way towards the perfect garden.

Jim Goodwin, 69, chairman of Wales in Bloom, says there are a variety of simple options for anyone who wishes to get involved in gardening for the first time this year.

“There are a lot of shrubs that are easy to grow for beginners,” he said.

“Shrubs that don’t take too much looking after once they‘ve been planted.

“Heuchera plants are lovely and return every year.

“They’re also available in a number of varieties, which means you have a lot of options.

“The beauty with these types of plants is that you can grow them in open ground, but you can also put them in pots and have them inside your house.

“It will take a while for you to appreciate the full beauty, as you won’t see much in winte, but when summer comes round, they look lovely.

“There are also shrubs like euonymus, which is an evergreen plant that has a load of varieties.

“It provides all-year colour and has vegetative leaves.

“They grow in any soil and are brilliant to plant around spring time.”

It’s not just flowers and shrubs that can be easily grown in anyone’s back garden.

Mike Bradley, chairman of Rogiet allotment and gardeners society, believes that producing your own fruit and vegetables is a very rewarding hobby.

“I grow a lot such as turnips, carrots, green beans and potatoes and it’s brilliant,” he said.

“It tastes much nicer than what you get elsewhere as it’s fresh.

“It can be difficult at times, but if you have a clear plan, then you’ll get the most out of it.

“I’d say it’s important to stick to a 12-month plan that you draft up before beginning. If you follow that, then you can’t go wrong and you’ll notice it’s a lot easier.

“People are sometimes put off as they think it’ll be hard work, but it can be fine if you plan correctly.”

To have the option of growing plants or your own fresh produce then you will need to invest in the essential tools that every gardener needs to make the most of their garden or allotment.

There are a variety of items available, but we’ve got some recommendations from gardeners in Gwent who have been buying them for years.

“You need to spend some money on a good-quality spade,” said Mr Goodwin. “A stainless steel one is the best one to get, as otherwise soil can get stuck and it can be a nuisance to get off.

“A good rake is also worth spending money on, as you can always tell the difference between a good one and one that is of less quality.

“Other items that you’ll find useful if you’re just getting into gardening are a trowel for digging small holes, a small handfork and some secateurs.

“You’ll also need some good soil, which is well worth investing in, as that’ll set you up to grow anything then.”

Although the initial equipment will set you back a bit. , once you have bought it, it tends to last for a while.

With some plants available for a small price, then your garden could be left looking beautiful drenched in Gwent’s summer sun for a relatively cheap cost.

If you’ve always thought about gardening, but never got around to it, then now could be the time to finally get your garden in shape.