Tis the season for garden design! All the fabulousness that comes along with tending to nature’s purpose. The colors, the tastes, the landscaping it can lend to the exterior of your home. We are ready for the blooms a garden can generate in the spring, the summer and the late fall!
Now, let’s get the garden ready…
Establishing A Garden Design
Often, folks that decide to start a garden in their personal yard can easily be sucked into all of the blooms a garden can create. So, naturally, they go a bit crazy wanting every herb, every bloom and every fruit or veggie plant. Our advice…start small. Think about the herbs, spices, etc that typically make their way into your kitchen.
Do this same planning with fruits and veggies as well. Educate yourself on what grows best where. Then, think about which floral blooms you would enjoy most as well as their best growing seasons. The blooms will help with the pollination for all of your other plantings, like squash or zucchini.
Flowers will also add a pretty look to the overall garden. They actually triple their purpose, since they can be used as fresh cut flowers throughout your home, too! There are so many beautiful flowers to choose from and your local grocery store, hardware store or gardening center will have tons of seed options.
Sunlight is another piece of the pie. It is important to choose an area in your yard that offers about 3-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Be sure that buildings, trees and shrubs won’t shade the preferred garden spot. If the area chosen only lends less than 6 hours of direct sunlight, consider focusing on growing leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, collards and endive.
If you can manage a space that offers full-sun for 6-plus hours a day, then summer vegetable plants like tomatoes, squash, peppers, cucumbers, corn and zucchini are all great choices for veggies. Decide what crops will be most important and most used in your household. Then, work your way back from that crop to incorporate other plantings that may require the same amount of sunlight and water.
Planting your garden near some sort of water source is also very important. If your home has a spicket that can easily be hooked up to a hose, that may be a decent spot for the garden. If you are able to swing a separate water system for the garden, then this isn’t as much of an issue. We are currently using a soaker hose with a timer that is hooked up to our house water line and it works great (also, it is inexpensive and discrete)!
Now that all of these pieces of the pie are figured out, the actual layout of the garden can start to be designed. The location in the yard is determined based on sunlight and convenience to the home (if possible). The convenience piece comes into play for both the water source as well as for day-to-day usage.
Frequently, I will have something cooking on the grill while something is cooking on the stove and will need to run out to my garden to snip an herb for a recipe. Having the location of the garden closer to our home is very helpful!
Different Garden Design Ideas
There is a lot to consider when designing an actual garden. The first decision is how large the garden needs to be based on the plants you’ve chosen. Once the size is determined, consider a design that is both convenient to maneuver (for initial prep and planting, maintenance and utilization throughout the season/s) and free from unwelcomed outside visitors. Will a raised bed work best or will the garden go directly into the yard itself?
If considering a raised bed, it is important to use the right type of wood. Pressure-treated wood contains chemicals and those chemicals can seep into the plants, thus into our bodies. It is also important to consider the right type of soil. Good soil means healthy plants. We also use a lobster compost (found at our local dump) that really jump-starts all of the plantings earlier in the season.
We chose to make our garden a rectangular box about 12’x12’ in size. The perimeter of the box is outlined with garden beds with one small bed in the middle for flowers (to help with the pollination of the herb, vegetable and fruit beds as suggested above). The walkway (made from flagstone we had left over from a previous project) is around the center box, leaving it easy to access all the plants from both the inside and outside of the garden.
We have a mesh wall up around the beds for several reasons (much to our dismay). One reason being our own dog. He is a hound and would probably eat our entire garden if we let him! The other reason is because of other pesky small animals like squirrels or chipmunks. As our crops grow throughout the season, however, we can easily reach over the mesh from the outside and pick crops off of the taller vines (like tomatoes).
A gate door is an easy access in and out of the garden. It latches to lock, so we make sure we keep it closed when we are not around. You may choose to make your garden smaller in which case a door may not be necessary. It may only be an herb garden; therefore, you will not need as much room as well.
Check out DIY garden beds online for easy “how-to” videos and articles. They are everywhere and we referred to quite a few for our own design. There are so many styles and design ideas from folks that are garden experts. If digging your garden directly into the ground, be sure the soil is good, rich soil.
Garden Designs That Inspire
We started conceptualizing our personal outdoor garden a few years back. The building process started in a year that we had time to tend to it (minimal spring and summer travel plans, etc – it’s no wonder the home garden became so popular during the pandemic!). Last summer was our inaugural garden and it was as successful as we had hoped! It certainly is a lot of work, but the plants and food it yielded made it well worth every bit of sweat.
One way we mapped out our garden was by pinning ideas from all over. Whenever we would go on walks in our neighborhood we would look at other people’s gardens and build off of those ideas. I went on Pinterest and gained much inspiration for the aesthetic of our garden. What looks good in our yard, next to our home and for our family.
I was also constantly asking friends and family how they went about growing their own gardens. What they love about it, what they’d change. I would pick their brains for sourcing plants, seeds, advice. I would also bounce thoughts and ideas for our garden off of them.
We learned a ton about garden design last year as rookie garden growers and are currently using those notes to plan out our garden for this summer. The prep has begun and we hope this year’s garden grows better than ever!