5 Essential Steps to Planning Your Garden

4 years ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

Spring! It is getting closer day by day, and it has me itching to get in the garden! Gardening is one of my favorite things to do, and brings so much peace and joy into my life. Yes, it is hard work… and no, it's not as easy for some as it is for others… but the great thing about gardening is you can keep trying new things to help you get the garden of your dreams.

Image: LollyKnit via Flicker Creative Commons

Last week, I shared one of my new favorite tools, the Farmer's Almanac, for planning your garden, and I hope you were able to get some use out of it. If you haven't looked into a farmer's almanac, and are serious about gardening I strongly urge you to do so.

While you are waiting for the ground to thaw out, it is the perfect time for you to be able to start the planning process! Which is what we are going to start doing today. Whether you are a seasoned gardener, or have only thought about how lovely it would be to have your own garden space, you'll need to follow five essential steps to planning your garden now.

Last year was my first year with an actual vegetable garden, and didn't really know how to get started… or where to start. It was quite overwhelming to say the least. So I'm here to help you get started off on the right foot, and hopefully you won't have to make some of the same mistakes as I did.

If you are working in a small space, sometimes you just aren't able to get everything you would like to fit. However with some careful planning, you can do more than you think. If you have a large amount of space to grow your garden, don't think you are off the hook, either! A larger garden means more work, with more prep and planning. Whether you have a small container garden or a large piece of land, with the right planning, you can get huge rewards… plus the satisfaction of being a gardener.


1. Select what you want to grow.

This sounds easy enough, but there really is some planning that can come into play here. Some of the things to think about in this step:

  • What type of food do you (or your family) eat? (For example, do you eat a lot of fruit, what type of veggies do you consume, how do you feel about herbs?)
  • What type of seed do you want to use (i.e., organic, heirloom, hybrid, etc)?

2. Figure out how much you need/ want/ can grow.

Things to think about in this step:

  • How much food do you (or your family) consume each week?
  • Do you want to be able to feed off of just the garden, or is it more of a supplemental garden?
  • Do you plan on having enough food for just fresh food, or to stock up and can/ freeze for the colder months?
  • How much space is needed for each plant?
  • How much does one plant produce (Important!! different plants will produce different amounts of food. Be sure to look at how much the average growth per plant is estimated. This will vary depending on location, weather, and soil conditions).

3. Plan out the space.

Things to think about in this step:

  • Where would you like to place the garden?
  • Is it all going to be in one big garden plot, or do you need to place it in several spots around your house?
  • How much sunlight and shade does your desired location(s) get? (Important!! different plants have sun exposure different needs.)
  • How will the garden placement work with the rest of the space?
  • Is it in a space where you will want to be on a daily basis?

Remember: The space and number of plants in the space are directly connected. Having the proper space for each plant is important to ensure the best growing conditions.

4. Schedule your gardening times.

Things to think about in this step:

  • When are the best times to plant in your area?
  • How much time will you have to be able to spend in the garden?
  • What does the rest of your schedule look like with work, family, social events, etc?

5. Prep your garden soil.

Things to think about in this step:

  • Testing your soil for nutrition and acidity. (Important! Different plants have different soil requirements.)
  • What type of fertilizer(s) are needed?
  • What type of fertilizer do you want to use? (For example, are you going to use compost, animal fertilizers, store bought, etc.?)
  • Do you need to rid the space of any grass, weeds, or other debris?

If you are using containers for your garden,

  • where are you getting the soil from?
  • What type of soil are you going to use?
  • Does it have the proper nutrients?
  • Do you need to use a fertilizer with the soil?


Are you feeling a little overwhelmed? If you are, don't worry! I have even created a few free worksheets for you to use to help you along the way, and to help you stay organized in the process. (Get the printable on my website at 5 Essential Steps to Gardening: Workbook).

Garden Workbook Preview

Included in the printable workbook:
  • A planning checklist, which you will be able to use to check off each of the planning items and steps as you go along.
  • A gardening calendar -- you can use this to be able to pencil in your gardening schedule. Everyone's schedule is different, so this will give you a way to see how much time you will have to spend in the garden, or when specific tasks need to be done.
  • A garden planning grid to help you sketch out the space you would like to use, and even to plan the placement of each plant.

Screenshot 2014-01-31 10.04.44


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