Gardening can be one of the most rewarding activities you will ever do. It can also be the most time consuming. It doesn’t matter if your garden is big or small, or if you plant it raised beds or in plant pots – you have to start with a garden design.
Before designing your garden, you should have an idea of what you want to plant and how big your garden is going to be. It is also important to take into consideration the topography of your garden when you decide to plant. Some issues with the topography may have to be dealt with first before you can start planting, especially if you will be gardening in a space that isn’t leveled.
This article will cover the factors that you need to consider when designing a garden.
Several factors determine the size of your garden. These factors include the following: the existing area of your lot, the time you can devote to your garden, and your budget.
The area that you have to work with can affect the outcome of your garden. A little resourcefulness is needed if you’re working with a small yard or an indoor garden. If this is the case, you can always use containers such as pots or portable planters. You can also utilize vertical space by elevating plant containers, either by hanging them on the ceiling or stacking them on shelves. Trellises can also come in especially handy if you’re working with crawling plants.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that a big space is easier to plan for. Since you’ll be planting in a larger area, you need to factor in how you can water it efficiently with minimum waste. If you want to plant different varieties of vegetables next to each other, you need to do a bit of research about companion planting.
Your gardening time is another criterion you have to consider when evaluating the garden size that best suits your home. If you do not have much time to spare, keep a smaller garden. Remember that the bigger your garden is, the more time you will have to spend taking care of it, and the more it usually costs.
Most houses in urban and suburban areas usually have a flat yard ideal for laying out planting beds. In some cases, however, gardeners would find themselves with a hilly or a sloping topography.
It is much easier to plant on level surfaces than it is to plant on a bumpy or hilly surface. An unleveled garden can also result in areas of poor drainage. For hilly surfaces, you have the option of leveling it out by filling out depressions and by flattening out any bumps. In this process, you should refrain from compacting the ground extensively as it can affect the soil’s ability to drain water later on.
For sloping areas, you can work with them as you would a flat surface. Just ensure that the depressions and bumps are addressed accordingly. Sloping areas also require special considerations when it comes to irrigation. Always water from the top of the slope and make sure that any accumulated water at the bottom drains properly.
Container Beds Versus Rows
Now, people always ask me why I often have raised beds or containers in mind when talking about planning a garden. “My father taught me how to plant in rows on the soil, it’s how we’ve always done it!” they’d say.
Just because that’s what’s been done for hundreds of years, it doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient way. More and more people, especially suburban and urban gardeners, have been reaping the benefits of raised bed gardening. Let me list them for you:
- You can create and use your own soil mix rather than stick with the soil you have on the ground, no matter how poor it is.
- Since you aren’t stepping on your soil, there’s less compaction. Raised beds allow the roots of your plants to get a bit of air.
- Tending to raised beds doesn’t break your back.
- You can be more efficient at maintaining your garden. You can space your plants closer together on raised beds than on rows, maximizing your space and allowing you to water and remove weeds more efficiently.
Sure, you can grow your vegetable garden in long rows on the soil. I won’t stop you. But I won’t recommend it, either. The benefits listed above are just too important to ignore.
Creating the Plot Plan
The plot plan is the pen-and-paper stage of gardening. Now, before you think that you can skip this part, remember that plotting your garden in advance can prevent irreversible and costly mistakes later. Don’t worry, contrary to what most people think, plotting your garden is simple.
The easiest way to draw out a plot is with the use of a graph paper. You can easily find graph papers in local school and office supply stores. Some nurseries also carry them. These papers already have grid lines on them that will save you from drawing your own straight lines. They are very helpful in plotting out a garden to scale.
Most gardeners observe the scale that 1 inch on paper represents 1 foot of the garden. Measure out your garden first, then lay it out on the graph paper, observing the scale. Don’t worry if it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time you try it – it’s just a draft.
When you’re plotting out your garden, you also have to consider the type of plant containers or beds you’re going to use. Raised beds are one of the easiest types to work with. For raised beds, instead of planting directly onto the ground soil, you can create a raised platform for your soil and plants. This platform can be as small as 3 feet by 3 feet. Since they don’t depend on the ground soil, raised beds can come in handy if you want to plant on a space with poured concrete or bad soil.