If you only have a small garden area or a tiny terrace corner with a raised garden bed, you might not be sure how to make the most out of it. The good news is that with a bit of preparation, DIY know-how, and the tips found in this guide, you can create the best vegetable garden layout that will produce healthy and bountiful yields.
Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a lot of space to start a veggie garden. Anyone can grow a home garden no matter how limited space might be. (Hello, indoor vegetable garden!) The trick is to spend some time assessing your needs and space. So grab a pen and paper and follow this step-by-step guide to design the ultimate vegetable garden layout.
How To Map Out the Garden Design of Your Dreams
Before you start ordering seeds left and right, here’s a helpful tip: when you have little to no experience growing veggies, start small. A smaller garden with just a few species is a lot more manageable and less overwhelming than growing 20 vegetables with different needs.
Buying a seed bundle that contains veggies with the same growing season is a hassle-free, convenient, and affordable way to kick-start your gardening adventure. Follow the steps below and you’ll soon be sowing and harvesting the most delicious homegrown produce: your own!
1. Start With Your Grocery List
When writing down your vegetable garden layout, the first thing to consider is what you eat. Think about the items that always find their way into your fridge and recipes. Do you buy a lot of fresh greens like spinach, kale, and arugula? Maybe you always add canned tomatoes or tomato sauce to your shopping cart?
Prioritize the veggies you use most — they should occupy a large part of your vegetable garden layout and be given plenty of room to grow. As you become more confident in your gardening skills, be adventurous and try growing something that’s unusual to you. It’s a great way to keep your veggie patch exciting and will allow you to explore new tastes, textures, and dishes.
2. Consider the Space Available
Now that you’re armed with a list of your favorite veggies — which may also be some of the easiest to grow — it’s time to start assessing your planting space. Check the measurements of your garden bed or container of choice and write them down in your veggie garden plan.
If you’ve already bought your seeds, be sure to read the back of the seed packets carefully. The packaging should tell you all you need to know about spacing, including what to expect in terms of height and width once the plant matures.
On the other hand, if you still don’t have any seeds, feel free to download Back to the Roots’ complimentary seed almanac, which contains essential information about more than 50 different species of herbs, veggies, and flowers.
Quick tip: It may be useful to write down each species’ spacing requirements next to their name on your plant list as you’ll need this info when designing your vegetable garden layout.
The great thing about growing your own food inside garden beds and outdoor planters is that you can practice intensive planting. This type of gardening is only possible when the right conditions are met, such as good organic potting soil, proper sun exposure, and a small space.
The Back to the Roots Fabric Raised Garden Bed is a practical and affordable environment for this type of gardening. Made with durable felt material, it delivers more oxygen to your plants’ roots and provides optimal water drainage. Easy to set up and even easier to store, our raised garden bed comes with double stitching for a truly durable and sustainable product that will last you many years and growing seasons.
Intensive planting consists of placing veggies closer to one another. As a result, this translates into less weeding — since invasive plants have less space to settle in — and a more bountiful harvest due to the larger number of plants growing at the same time.
Pick up your garden planner diagram and start filling it with the plants on your seed wish list. Take into consideration the space they need to grow and the space you have available. Also, if you want to grow vining plants — such as cucumbers, pole beans, or tomatoes — make sure they don’t block sun exposure to their garden bed companions (more on that later).
3. Assess Sun Exposure
Vegetable gardening is all about the full sun. When designing your vegetable garden layout, pick the sunniest location possible where plants can get at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sun per day. Gardening veterans agree that the best sun exposure window is between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
If you’re growing a crop that will extend through more than one season (like beetroots and radishes), be mindful that an area that’s super sunny in the summer may be partially shaded — by a building or a tree — once the sun gets lower from late fall through early spring.
When growing vertically, remember that species requiring a trellis and taller plants should be ideally placed on the north end of your garden bed — this way, they don’t cast shade on other veggies.
4. Use Companion Planting
To give your plants the best chance to grow and thrive, companion planting will be your powerful ally. This method has been used for centuries by farmers worldwide as an organic and synergistic way to support crops.
Companion planting is nothing more than placing certain plants next to others that naturally encourage their growth and protect them from pests. These beneficial friendships boost the crops’ yield and improve their flavor.
If you have some extra space in your raised garden bed, consider adding some aromatic herbs that will complement your favorite veggies. If you’re a pizza lover (who isn’t?), you’ll be thrilled to know that tomatoes love the company of basil plants. A match made in food heaven!
If you want to add a pop of color to your garden, planting flowers like marigolds, nasturtiums, or lavender will make your garden bed shine while attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects that combat pests. It’s nature literally working for nature.
Vegetable Garden Layout Ideas and Hacks
You now know the basics to create the perfect vegetable garden layout to suit your little green corner. Envisioning and designing your veggie patch is a great way to boost your confidence as a gardener and keep things organized and efficient.
To stay on the right track, here are a few ideas and hacks for when you’re sketching and planning your garden bed diagram:
- Try square foot gardening: If you’re working with a classic raised garden bed, you might want to have a go at Mel Bartholomew’s method. Both beginner and veteran gardeners consider it more straightforward and efficient than traditional row gardening as it divides the growing area into sections for better planning.
- Nourish your soil: One of the most common occurrences in intense planting is nutrient deficiency. This is a consequence of many plants growing too close together and competing for resources — such as nutrients, water, and airflow. To prevent this, make sure you give your plants a continual stream of nutrients in the form of organic compost.
- Don’t be afraid to plant crawling species: If you think growing vining crops such as squashes and pumpkins is impossible when you have limited space, think again. Simply plant them along the edges of your garden bed and let the vines trail out.
- Consider crop rotation: This method consists of moving plant families from one garden bed to another after each growing season. This common practice in gardening and agriculture prevents soil depletion and eradicates specific crop diseases and pests from building up from one season to the next.
Design Your Vegetable Garden Layout To Keep Things Simple and Efficient
Gardening involves planning, working with the seasons, and respecting the natural cycles of Mother Nature. It’s so much more than throwing seeds into the ground and hoping for something to happen. That said, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Creating your vegetable garden layout beforehand is a smart and well-planned way of giving your garden the best possible environment to grow and reward you with an abundant harvest. For more gardening inspiration and tips and tricks about the plant world, keep an eye out for fresh content on our Back to the Roots blog.