Garden Planning 101: Success with Preparation

A garden that utilized garden planning

A carefully laid out plan is the key to a successful garden. But where do you even start when it comes to garden planning?

The truth is, it all depends on what kind of garden you want.

Gardening can be an extremely rewarding pastime, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to get lost in the process. So many people get overwhelmed and quit before they even get started.

Garden planning will give you the best possible chance of success. You can’t predict the weather for the entire year, and you can’t always control pests that ravage your garden. But a solid plan is the best way to accomplish your goal and have a truly incredible garden.

Why Garden Planning is Essential for Success

A woman holding vegetables that she grew thanks to garden planning

Different plants have different needs. Those needs range from the amount of sun they get to the pH balance in the soil and the amount of water they need to flourish. It all takes careful planning.

If you’re going to have a plentiful garden, you have to plan based on a few variables. That includes the amount of space you have and what kind of garden you want. Once you’ve narrowed that down, you can pick plants that will fit in that garden.

If you have a busy life, it’s easy to bite off more than you can chew. You could end up with a giant garden and no time to take care of it.

By making a plan ahead of time you can ensure that you have a garden that will be useful, and reasonable for your lifestyle. Over time you will learn exactly what you can manage.

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Different types of gardens

There are three basic types of gardens that you can choose from. You’ll have to determine which one is right for you.

Container gardens

Container gardens are the first option on the list because they are perfect for anyone that is trying to save space.

Keep in mind that they aren’t always ideal for a vegetable garden since many veggies need room to thrive. However, it does make it possible to do small-scale gardening on your balcony when you live in an apartment building.

Container gardening revolves around how much space you have and how many containers will fit. You can select the plants based on those factors.

Herb and flower gardens thrive in containers. So do many root vegetables and pepper plants.

However, if you want a bunch of tomatoes or other vegetables that grow on vines, you’re going to need several large containers because they root deeply and spread quickly.

Raised box gardens

Raised boxes are excellent for many different types of gardens. They can make gorgeous flower gardens or practical veggie gardens. You can make them as large or deep as you need them to be and use whatever materials you want to make them aesthetically pleasing.

Most people make their garden boxes out of raw wood, but you can take it a step further and stain the wood. You could even use brick or block if you’re going for a particular look.

Raised gardens make it easier to avoid weeds and minimize pests. They also make it possible to keep a well-organized garden with separate crops.

Raised garden beds will help you make the most of the limited space you have access to. They are also fantastic for a wider range of crops compared to container gardens.

In-ground gardens

In-ground gardens are the most common and straightforward of these three options. They are perfect for a large-scale garden.

Garden planning is a little easier with the two other options because they tend to help you separate crops and keep a smaller garden.

Garden planning is essential when it comes to in-ground gardens because it’s pretty easy to try to fill all the space you have. That can lead to monster gardens that can get overwhelming quickly.

When it comes to a well-seasoned gardener, that’s fine. You probably already know what plants you want and how many you will need. However, if you are a new gardener you will need to plan your in-ground garden carefully and try to keep things as simple as possible.

Over time you can grow as a gardener and add even more to your bounty. But it’s always better to start small and work your way up if this is all new to you.

Location, location, location

Onions growing in the ground

The location of your garden is important for several different reasons.

For one thing, different plants need various amounts of sun. For another, different climates are perfect for some crops and not others. What you can grow successfully heavily depends on where you live.

You should select plants that grow well in your area. Do some research to determine when you should start gardening in your location. The season for planting could vary depending on these factors.

Garden size matters

When it comes to garden size, a good rule of thumb is that the larger your knowledge is, the larger your garden can be.

In other words, if this is your first garden, you should keep things small. Focus on a few types of plants and only have a handful of each to start.

Remember that gardening is a learning experience. But what starts out as a hobby can turn into an abundance that can feed your family. It will take time and experience to get things right.

You will run into a variety of issues with different plants, that’s merely part of the learning experience. Over time you will have an arsenal of knowledge to combat pests and diseases.

Until you grow that knowledge your large garden could be more of a frustration than anything else. It could even stomp out your interest in gardening at all.

A small and successful garden is much more rewarding than a giant garden plot that turns into a wasteland.

Picking your plants

To start, you should choose a handful of plants you will use regularly. Tomatoes and peppers can be used in a lot of recipes, and that makes them a great option. Herbs are also an excellent choice because they’re relatively easy to grow and can also be used in a lot of recipes.

Over time, you may even want to grow enough to can or freeze food for the year. However, that is not something you should try to do all at once.

Recommended Read: The Best Emergency Food to Have in Your Storage

Start with plants you want to have in abundance in the future, like tomatoes, peppers, peas, and corn. You can get a feeling for their needs and how difficult they are to care for.

The following year you can plant more of those, possibly even enough to preserve. You could also add some new plants to the roster.

Soil is the heart and soul of your garden

Having perfectly balanced soil for your plants is also essential for a healthy garden. Soil provides nutrients, water, and helps to stabilize the roots and reinforce the plant’s natural resistance to disease and pests.

We won’t go into too much detail here about figuring out the soil for your plants. You just need to understand that plants have different needs and this is a huge factor in the success of your garden. You will need to do some research based on your garden and the plants you choose.

If you choose to do an in-ground garden it’s a good idea to get soil tests and find out what you’re working with.

Fortunately, there are plenty of guides that will help you understand your soil and what you need to do to maintain a successful garden. You can even learn how to compost for future gardens.

Tips for Successful Garden Planning

Carrots that were just pulled from the ground

When it comes to garden planning, there is a ton of information at your fingertips. That can also make the whole process a little overwhelming for a beginner.

Try to keep things simple and work your way into the more complicated stuff over time. Pick easy plants and start with a small garden. Any successful garden, even a small one, is rewarding.

Although, there are a few tips that you might like to know before you get started.

Draw in some friends

Whether or not you’re comfortable with insects, there are some beneficial bugs you should try to draw into your garden. Friendly bugs will keep away the pests and live in your garden without destroying your plants.

Beneficial bugs are broken down into three different categories.

  • Pollinators: bees, butterflies, moths, and flies
  • Predators: ladybugs, praying mantises, spiders, and green lacewing larvae
  • Parasitizers: wasps

We mentioned a few of these bugs to give you an idea of the bugs you want to see showing up in your garden. They will help pollinate and protect your plants.

To gain some garden friends, you need to create the right environment for them.

For one thing, they don’t like a dry and dusty garden, they need a lush and moisture-rich environment, especially beetles. That means mulch and even some weeds can be an excellent addition to your garden.

You should also keep in mind that most insecticides don’t pick and choose the bugs they eradicate. So if you’re interested in having some garden friends, you should pay attention to whether the insecticide you use will also kill beneficial bugs.

Plants that ward off foes

Plants growing in a garden

In the same way that you can draw in friendly bugs, you can also fend off pests with carefully selected plants.

There are many different helpful plants that have uses of their own and make a cute little addition to any garden.

Helpful plants and what they repel

  • Marigolds: lice mosquitoes, and rabbits.
  • Chives: Japanese beetles and carrot rust flies.
  • Petunias: asparagus beetles, leafhoppers, aphids, and tomato worms.
  • Garlic: carrot root flies, aphids, and root maggots.
  • Rosemary: cabbage moths, bean beetles, and carrot flies.
  • Chervil: slugs.
  • Cilantro: potato beetles, spider mites, and aphids.

Keep in mind that these are only a handful of the possibilities. If you struggle with particular pests in your garden, you should find out if there are any specific plants that will help you repel them.

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Recommended Read: How to Grow Garlic: When to Plant, When to Harvest, and How to Store

Take advantage of an online garden planner

Finally, you should know that online garden planning is a possibility. There are so many resources that can help you plan your garden down to the very last plant.

That will help you map out the space you have and how many plants will fit in that area. This is crucial because some plants need extra room for success. Tomatoes, for one, need a lot of room between each plant so they don’t develop mildew and rot.

Recommended Read: Companion Plant Visual Chart for your Garden

Online garden planners

These are only a few possibilities you could try. Some of them only have a free trial and you will need to pay to get all the features. But if you’re stressing about plotting out your garden perfectly, they could be the perfect tools for you!

Good Garden Planning Is the Key to Your Success

Overall, garden planning is a challenge in the beginning. In time, it will get easier and you will get a feeling for your gardening preferences.

Mapping out the space you have is one of the most important things you can do. From there you will be able to figure out how many plants will fit and cater to the needs of those plants. If you’re limited on space, don’t be shy about raised garden boxes or container gardens.

No matter what kind of garden you choose, just remember that you will learn more in time. After a few years of gardening you will be a pro, but don’t rush it.

If you’re starting your garden plan, we would love to hear about it in the comment section below!

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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

Last update on 2024-04-23 at 17:34 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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