Basics in Garden Design and Planning

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 15, 2013)

Perhaps you've finally bought your first house and have adequate land and space for the large garden you've always wanted. But before you turn your first shovelful of dirt, you'll need to design and plan your garden. While you could simply scatter seeds and plantings haphazardly without a plan, your plants and flowers might not grow optimally, nor accentuate the overall design of your home. Instead, design your garden and form a concrete plan using these guidelines:

  • Type of garden. Determine first what you want to plant. Perhaps you enjoy cooking and want to plant herbs. Maybe you have a large family and want to grow your own food with surplus to store away by canning or freezing. If you enjoy gardening, you might want to plant a flower garden or enhance existing trees and shrubs with flowerbeds. Decide why you want to have a garden, and what you want to grow, before you buy seeds or plants.
  • Growing zones. Certain varieties of plants may not grow optimally in the growing zone in which you live. Find out what your growing zone is and, once you've decided upon the plants you want to grow, consult online catalogs or magazines to determine if your plants will flourish in your zone.
  • Location. Some plants need full sun for at least five hours each day, yet some plants grow best in partial or full shade. On a piece of paper, draw a diagram of your yard and note the areas that receive full sun and partial and full shade. Watch the sun and shadow patterns of your yard over several days and note them on your diagram. If you have large trees or sheds, or if your home casts shadows on areas of your yard, note the times of the shadow occurrences. Think about drainage, too. Don't plant at the base of a hill that slopes inward, since water may pool there, encouraging root rot.

After you've determined what you want to plant, your growing zone, and the best location for your plants considering sun, shadow, and drainage, plot your garden on your diagram. Visit your local nursery to buy established plantings or seeds, or buy them from reputable catalogs or an online nursery. Prepare the ground by removing all grass and large clumps of dirt. Before digging, however, make sure that there are no underground gas or water lines. If you're planting flower beds, install soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to make watering easier. If you're planting a vegetable garden, leave enough room between the rows of crops to walk so that you can weed and harvest without disturbing other plants.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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