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How to Plan Your Garden Layout: A Guide to Successful Gardening on your Homestead by Crafty Queen Mama

Updated: Jun 26

Planning your garden layout is a crucial step in achieving a productive and aesthetically pleasing garden that is easy to weed and harvest. Whether you are a seasoned homesteader or just starting, thoughtful planning can significantly enhance your gardening experience. This guide will walk you through the essentials of deciding on plant placement, understanding basic garden design patterns, and selecting the best plants for raised beds.

Deciding What Plants Go Where

Deciding where to place your plants is a combination of science and art. Lets look at some of the key factors to consider:

  1. Sunlight: This is the most important thing to consider when deciding on what plants go where. Different plants have varying sunlight requirements and knowing what each plant needs will help you determine where they need to be placed. Observe your garden space throughout the day to understand the sun exposure in your yard and will allow you to plan accordingly. Once you have an understanding of where the best all-day sun is and what spots only have partial sun, take the time to look at the seed packet for each item you plan on planting. Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce thrive in partial shade, while tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers need full sun. Use my attached Plant Profile worksheets to help you keep track of each plant and their specific requirements. This will be useful when working on the plot plan.

  2. Plant Height and Spread: You definitely need to take the time to consider the mature size of the plants you wish to grow. This is important to avoid overcrowding. Taller plants like corn and sunflowers should be placed at the north end of your garden to prevent them from shading shorter ground crops like lettuce. If you are not sure on the height of each plant, check the seed packet. All this information can be found on the back.

  3. Companion Planting: This is the one thing that often gets forgotten when you are just starting on your homesteading journey but some plants benefit from being grown together. Companion planting can also help to deter pests naturally. Conversely, some plants should be kept apart; for instance, onions can inhibit the growth of beans and peas. Use my Companion Planting Guide to help you plan accordingly to what you want to plant.

  4. Soil Quality: Lastly you should look at soil condition. Soil quality can vary within your garden. Perform a soil test to determine the pH and nutrient levels. This is important if you plan on growing anything requiring acidic soil like blueberries. Most other plants are adaptable to different soil types and don't require a specific pH.

Understanding Basic Patterns in Garden Design

A well-designed garden not only looks beautiful but also promotes healthy plant growth and ease of maintenance. Here are some of the basic patterns to guide your layout:

  1. Rows and Blocks: I love both of these styles of planting. Traditional row planting is straightforward and makes weeding and harvesting easy. I use this style of planting in my large in-ground bed 90% of the time. The other form of planting I use in this bed is block planting. Block planting is where plants are grouped in square or rectangular sections in your garden. This style of planting maximizes space and is ideal for small gardens or anyone looking to intensify their gardening.

  2. Raised Bed: Raised beds offer numerous benefits, including better drainage, improved soil quality, and easier access for planting, weeding and harvesting. They also can be used to define different sections of your garden. I love my raised beds for strawberries, tomatoes and brassicas.

  3. Zoning: Zoning is good for gardens with different sunlight exposure and similar to blocks. Divide your garden into zones based on plant needs. For example, create a "Full Sun Zone" for heat-loving plants, a " Shade Zone" for leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and cabbage, and a "Herb Zone" that might be closer to your home kitchen for easy access.

  4. Pathways: It is so important to have designated pathways in your garden. Designated pathways to ensure you can easily move through your garden without stepping on plants. It also makes weeding easier if you use mulch or gravel paths as they will help to suppress the weeds. I like to use mulch as it helps to keep the moisture in the ground for my plants.

Best Plants for Raised Beds

Raised garden beds are great for so many reasons. They are great for anyone who can't be bent over in the garden weeding or harvesting and can be built to the height you desire. Raised beds are also perfect for small spaces and can significantly enhance your garden's productivity. If you are thinking about putting in raised beds here are some of the best plants to grow in raised beds:

  1. Leafy Greens: Lettuce, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard thrive in raised beds. They all have shallow roots and grow quickly allowing for multiple harvests throughout the season. I like to succession plant these things in my raised beds which offers shorter rows.

  2. Root Vegetables: If you have raised beds that are 2 feet deep or more then you can grow things like carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips. These all do well in loose, well-drained soil of raised beds you just need to make sure your raised beds are deep enough for them to grow. One thing I would avoid growing in raised beds would be potatoes as they take up so much space.

  3. Herbs: Most herbs are perennial, meaning they will return each year and spread. Growing herbs in a contained space like a raised bed will reduce the amount of space for herbs to take over and keep them contained. Sage, mint, thyme, rosemary, and parsley are just a few that will take over any space you give them.

  4. Tomatoes: Raised beds provide the warm, well-drained soil that tomatoes love. Raised beds make harvesting tomatoes easier as you can get access to both side for clean picking. If you are growing indeterminate tomatoes that will need a trellis-raised beds make is easier to attach the trellis to the side of the beds making it secure.

  5. Peppers and Eggplants: These are also heat-loving plants that benefit from the warmer soil temperature in raised beds. Raised beds also make it easier to maintain consistent moisture in the soil which is ideal for these plants.

Putting it All on Paper

Now that we have gone through some of the most important things about planning your garden, take the time to sit down with my Plot Plan worksheet and write it out. Putting it on paper first will allow you to visually see without having to plant anything. On paper, you can move things around as many times as you need before you get the final plan perfect. Keep in mind all the things we have gone over here and that crop rotation is important to avoid soil depletion and help reduce the pest risk.

Planning your garden layout is a rewarding endeavor that sets the stage for a bountiful harvest. By considering sunlight, soil quality, companion planting, plant size and crop rotation you can strategically decide where each plant should go. Embracing basic garden design patterns like rows, blocks and raised beds will help you create a functional and beautiful garden on your homestead. Finally, selecting the best plants for your raised beds ensures optimal growth and productivity.

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@ Craftyqueenmama.

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