garden planning worksheet

Ep. 16 – 8 Simple Garden Layout Tips + FREE Garden Planning Worksheet

Get a head start on your gardening plans this growing season with these tips for setting up your garden space! Plus get a copy of our free printable garden planning worksheet!

Garden planning and more specifically garden layout design can be a huge point of contention for the beginner gardener! Understanding where to plant your tender transplants and what exactly can be planted together can make you feel stuck! So in this episode I’m going to share 8 tips and hacks that I use in my own garden to get the best results for a successful gardening season!

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Hey ya’ll and welcome to the podcast! Today, I want to share a few tips that I wish I knew as a beginner gardener that I swear by now that I am further along in my gardening journey! These tips are all really easy tweaks you can make in the layout of your garden to enjoy bountiful harvests! I’m going to pack this episode with lots of useful information (so make sure you’ve got pen and paper for quick notes. And I encourage you to check out the transcript on our blog as it will include links to additional posts that can go deeper into each topic we’ll discuss! So, let’s jump right in! 

Tip #1: Understand Sun Exposure and Shade in your Garden

The first tip for planning your garden layout is to know your sun exposure and shade levels in your garden! Plants thrive with sunlight, water and nutrient rich soil and in some situations, the sunlight of our garden can’t be helped, but knowing exactly what the trajectory of the sun in your growing space can help you to better plan the location of each crop. 

As far as plant requirements go, leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale do well with partial sun. Root vegetables can tolerate some shade. Fruiting plants thrive in full sun (6-8 hours daily). Aim for a spot that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight for a bountiful garden. 

You can evaluate sun exposure by using shade mapping or various tools online like “Find my shadow.” Keep in mind the varying sunlight qualities in different regions – northern areas might face shade challenges, while southern regions can benefit from partial sun.

Tip #2: Succession planting

The second tip for planning out your garden layout is to use success planting. Succession planting is the practice of continually planting new crops throughout the growing season to extend your harvest. This is especially useful for fast-growing vegetables like lettuce, radishes, and green beans.

Mark your calendar with the average last frost dates in your area so that you know when it’s safe to plant cold-sensitive plants. Keep in mind that this can vary from year to year, so it’s important to check each year! 

Additionally, you can use a planting schedule to know exactly when each type of plant can go out and plan ahead for when to start each crop and transplant into the garden. 

Tip #3: Use Companion planting

Another great way to maximize space in your garden layout is to use companion planting. There are many benefits to companion plants in the garden! In fact we covered 3 episodes on companion planting which I will link below! But some of the ways that they can help in your planning and layout are:

  • Help in maximizing space and yield.
  • Pest control when done correctly. 
  • Nutrient optimization through nutrient cycling

It’s important to research which plants work well together before planting. You can also find great companion planting charts online or create your own using the information you’ve gathered. 

Tip #4: Plant using the square foot method

Another garden layout hack is to use the square foot method of gardening! This gardening method is all about maximizing space and reducing waste by planting crops in specific square foot sections. This method works especially well for small gardens or raised garden beds.

You can easily create a garden grid system using twine, string, or wooden stakes to section off your garden bed into square feet. Then, follow the recommended plant spacing for each crop and plant accordingly. And I’ve included a space recommendation chart in our free garden planner, which will also be linked below in the show notes! 

This is YOUR YEAR to Successfully Grow Food!

The Square Foot Garden Planner is the Ultimate tool to help you turn your garden dreams into reality!

Whether you are a complete beginner or a gardener with years of experience, this quick reference guide will help you Maximize your garden space, choose the right plants and companions, and successfully grow your own fresh produce!

square foot garden planner

Tip #5: Plant Brassicas together and cover

This next tip is one that has worked wonders in my garden this season and given me by far, the best brassicas I have ever grown and that is to grow them together AND cover with insect netting! Last year, when I planted my fall crops of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage my plants did well until the cabbage moths found them and DEMOLISHED them! This year, I covered with insect netting before they had a chance to come out of hibernation! 

I also plan to do this with my squash and just do a lot of hand pollinating! Ill be keeping everyone updated on the progress!

Tip #6: Plant crops based on height

Tip # 6 is to plan your garden beds with the height of your crops in mind! If you are planting a bed full of crips that need to be in full sun, then you don’t want to plant crops that will shade them! For example, a bed with sunflowers in the back (or north), tomatoes in the middle, and leafy greens in front. This way, all of your plants can receive optimal sunlight without competing for it. 

The best part of this sort of planting is when it gets really warm in the summer, you can interplant your lettuce between tomatoes or sunflowers and use the shade that these crops bring to extend your leafy green harvest!

Tip #7: Proper irrigation considerations

Watering  is one of the most important aspects for success when it comes to gardening! So when planning your garden layout, make sure to also consider irrigation. This can include drip irrigation systems or simply having easy access to water sources. 

Also, keep in mind that certain crops may require more frequent watering than others, so plan accordingly and group plants with similar water needs together. 

Now, if you are wanting to DIY your irrigation you can check out our irrigation garden planning worksheet and get all my step-by-step system for creating a hands-free watering solution for your own back yard! 

Speaking of hands free watering solutions, I want to take a minute to thank one of the Sponsors of the Podcast, Garden in Minutes! I often tell you all that I am a low maintenance gardener, so I am always looking for ways to enjoy the fruits of my garden without spending hours on garden chores! 

That’s why I decided to invest in the Garden in Minutes garden grids this year! Last year, I DIY’d my irrigation system, but found uneven and inadequate watering meant that I still needed to stand outside daily, especially during the heat of the Alabama summers! The Garden in Minutes Garden grids are the easiest way that I have found to ensure adequate watering, these patented grids follow a square foot gardening method of construction and are customizable to most popular sized garden beds! 

And with my timers connected, these truly give me hands free water!! Now as a podcast listener, we have a really neat deal! You can get 7% off your entire order by clicking the link in the show notes and adding the discount code GARDENTHINGS at checkout! Now, lets get back to the episode! 

Tip #8: Layout based on nutrient needs

The last tip for your garden planning is to plan based on the nutrient needs of individual plants.  Some plants are heavy feeders and require more nutrients from the soil, while others can thrive in less fertile soil. 

Now there are two schools of thought here when determining how to use this information. You can group plants with similar nutrient needs together, and the idea here is you can ensure that each plant is getting the proper nutrients without over or under fertilizing certain areas of your garden. 

Or you can do what I prefer to do which is to create a mixed bed with differing needs. Plants will take what they need, and planting a bed with a mixed level of nutrient needs mean you can fertilize less often and plants will take what they need from the soil as they need it. 

Plan Using our Garden Planning Worksheet

Now before we close, I want to take a moment and talk about our free printable garden planner! This is the must have garden printable if you are looking to grow your own food in your vegetable garden! 

In this free download you’ll get a simple step-by-step walk through of how to plan your own gardens as well as access to our additional free printables for companion planting, irrigation, and seed starting germination rates as well as get connected with our email list where I share weekly garden tasks and to-do lists! 

You can get your copy of this planner by checking out the link in the show notes!

Well, that’s all for this episode! I hope you are encouraged to maximize the space in your garden and grow more food! 

If you dug this episode I would be honored if you would rate this podcast and spread the word to your friends who are also passionate about gardening.

Your five-star support fuels the growth of “Garden Things with Friends,” and together, we’ll cultivate a network of thriving gardens and plant-loving friends.

Happy Gardening and Remember It’s never the wrong time to Grow where you are!

garden planning worksheet
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