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Here’s How to Plan the Best Layout for a Vegetable Garden

Illustration on how to plan an efficient vegetable garden layout
Effie Theodosiuo @lzysunday

Planting a vegetable garden is one of the most rewarding — and delicious — hobbies you can take on. However, haphazardly throwing seeds in the soil probably won’t produce the bountiful backyard vegetable garden of your dreams. For productive results, your best bet is to carefully plot out your vegetable garden layout.

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Whether you’re a home gardener looking to boost your veggie harvest or a green-thumb newbie wondering how to start a vegetable garden for the very first time, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our tips for planning an efficient vegetable garden layout — so you can enjoy fresh veggies all season long.

Related: How to Build a Cocktail Garden (Our Favourite Late Summer Trend)

A backyard garden with three wooden garden beds filled with growing vegetables
Unsplash

What Are the Benefits of a Vegetable Garden Layout?

Before we get to our tips for how to create a vegetable garden layout, you may be wondering why you should take the time to make one.

While it may take some extra effort and a bit of trial and error, an efficient layout at the start goes a long way towards making it easier to maintain your garden throughout the year. When plants are arranged in a logical way that makes it easier to weed, water and harvest them, you’re more likely to stay on top of your garden.

And, if you’re rotating your crops for an ongoing harvest (for example, if you plan to swap out spring veggies for a fall or winter vegetable garden), a structured layout can be a big help.

A good layout can also make it much easier to successfully implement a companion gardening plan to help make your veggie plants thrive (and help keep pests to a minimum).

See Also: The Most Invasive Plants in Canada to Remove From Your Garden

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Illustration of step 1 on how to plan a vegetable garden layout
Effie Theodosiuo @lzysunday

Step 1: Consider the Space You’re Working With

The first step to an effective garden layout is to assess the space and conditions that you have for your garden. Think about questions like:

What type of garden space will you use? Are you planning to plant in a raised garden bed or do you have space for a big backyard vegetable garden with in-ground rows? Or, will you be getting creative with container gardening?

How big of a garden do you want to plant? As Scott McGillivray notes with his gardening tips here, “When it comes to vegetable gardens, bigger is not always better.” So, even if you have a large garden space, that doesn’t mean you have to use it all for your veggie garden. Decide what size of garden works for you and your space before you plan your layout.

What are the growing conditions? If it’s your first time planting a veggie garden in a particular spot, take some time to consider your local climate and temperatures, potential pests and how much sun or shade your garden will get.

Where will your garden be? Think about how close your garden is to your living space. Is there an easy water source nearby? How often will you see the garden in your day-to-day life? If you walk by it often, you’ll be more likely to keep up maintenance than if it’s hidden in a corner, for example.

What are the soil conditions? Consider the drainage and depth of soil for where you’ll be planting.

Related: The Most Invasive Plants in Canada to Remove From Your Garden

Illustration of step 2 on how to plan a vegetable garden layout
Effie Theodosiuo @lzysunday

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Step 2: Do Some Pre-Planning

Once you’ve decided where your garden will be, it’s time to think about what you want to plant and when.

A good way to start is to make a list of all the veggies and herbs that you and the people around you like to eat. After all, there’s no point in growing rows of spinach if no one in your household will eat it.

If your garden area is compact, you might also want to consider including some vertical-grow or vining vegetables in your plan (think: cucumbers or tomatoes) to help maximize the space.

When you have a list of vegetables you’d like to plant, you’ll want to note when each veggie would need to be planted. This will vary depending on where you live, so it’s a good idea to find a planting calendar for your location. The Almanac, for example, has an online tool that lets you search by postal code to find the ideal times to plant veggies in the spring and fall.

See Also: The Easiest Herbs You Can Grow Indoors Throughout the Year

Illustration of step 3 on how to plan a vegetable garden layout
Effie Theodosiuo @lzysunday

Step 3: Draw it Out

Now that you’ve collected all the information you need, it’s time to design your garden so that you can create an efficient layout.

There are many strategies you can try — whether you prefer to draw your garden by hand (freehand, graph paper or on a printable vegetable garden planner template) or use a garden layout app.

Whichever tool you use, you’ll want to arrange your plants in a logical way for maximum efficiency, considering factors like:

Plant arrangement
Depending on your garden space, you can lay out your vegetable plants in a variety of ways, such as in blocks, rows or using a square-foot gardening style.

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Generally, you’ll want to arrange plants by height, so that the tallest plants are furthest away. This is key to your plan’s efficiency, as it allows for the easiest access to all of your veggies when it comes time to weed, water or harvest them. Planting small plants in front of taller ones can also help ensure that each gets its share of sunlight (be sure to consider which direction the sun is coming from while planning).

For a garden bed with access from one side, plan to plant taller vegetables at the back of each garden bed, shorter vegetables in the middle and the smallest plants at the front.

A garden bed filled with vegetables and plants
Unsplash

Similarly, for a garden bed with access from all sides, plan to plant your taller vegetables in the middle, surrounded by shorter veggies and with the smallest plants at the front or edges of the garden space.

Remember to include proper space between plants in your plan. The ideal spacing for plants will vary by veggie, but you can look for guides online (like this guide from Gardening Know How).

If you have multiple garden beds in your garden, you’ll want to plan your layout to include space for you and your tools (like a wheelbarrow) to move freely between them.

Water flowing from a watering can onto vegetables growing in a garden
Unsplash

Plant pairings
In addition to considering factors like sunlight and ease of access, you’ll also want to think about which plants work best when planted in close proximity.

Companion planting, which is the practice of strategically growing certain plants close together to help them thrive, can offer benefits like pest control, improved soil quality and even better-tasting veggies. If you’re planting spinach and onions, for instance, you may want to plan to place them close together in your garden as a strategy. Why? Onion bulbs can help to repel pests and the two crops work well together, spatially, as onions grow vertically and spinach grows horizontally.

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You may also want to consider planning to include some pollinator-friendly plants in your garden layout.

Related: Beautiful Native Canadian Plants to Grow by Province



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