Alicia DeVore

Welcome back to our blog, where we share valuable insights, tips, and trends in the world of gardening. Today, we are focusing on a crucial aspect of successful gardening – creating an efficient use effective game plan for your garden this year.

6 tips to planning a successful garden

Every successful garden begins with a well-thought-out plan, and a key strategy that’s making waves in the gardening community is Raised Bed Gardening. This innovative approach involves growing plants in soil that’s elevated from the ground level, typically contained within a frame. It’s a concept that not only maximizes your gardening space but also offers a range of other benefits from improved soil conditions to better pest management.

In my garden, I’ve experimented with various gardening styles, including metal raised beds, wooden raised beds, vertical planters, containers, and traditional in-ground beds. However, over the years, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to raised bed gardening. I’ve been steadily adding more of these to my garden in place of in-ground beds. This preference is primarily due to their ease of use and remarkable efficiency – they allow me to grow significantly more food within the same spatial parameters.

Below you can see summer squash growing in the ground and another set of summer squash growing in raised beds. The difference has helped me to realize that raised beds work better for my yard. They produce more and take less time to protect and keep up with.

choose this or that

In today’s post, we’re going to explore six effective strategies that incorporate raised bed gardening, among other techniques, to help you make the most of your garden this year. Whether you’re dealing with limited space, challenging soil conditions, or simply looking to optimize your garden’s yield, these strategies could be your ticket to a flourishing garden.

So, if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get planning on growing vegetables, let’s dive into these six ways to effectively make a game plan for your garden this year.

Number 1: Choose the Right Location

number 1: choose the right location

Consider Sun and Shade Requirements

The foundation of any successful garden, especially a raised bed garden, lies in selecting the optimal location. The importance of location cannot be overstated—it influences everything from plant health to maintenance ease. When scouting for that perfect spot, several key factors must be taken into account.

First and foremost, consider sunlight exposure. Most vegetable and herb plants thrive with at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Observe potential garden spots throughout the day to determine which areas receive ample sunlight. Additionally, access to water is crucial. Your whole garden planting area also needs to be situated within a reasonable distance of your water supply to make watering less of a chore and more of a joy.

yard with garden beds and trellis

The easier it is to access your garden, the more likely you are to tend to it. Therefore, choose to garden plan a spot that is easily visible and reachable from the back door of your house.

For more on choosing the right location, check out these blog posts:

Green and Grow: A Simple Guide to Growing Organic Vegetables at Home

Quick and Easy Homegrown Food: 10-Minute Vegetable Gardening Tips

Start Your Backyard Garden Journey Today: 4 Easy Steps for Beginner Gardeners

By carefully selecting the right location for your raised garden beds, and considering these essential factors, you set the stage for an easy space to enjoy and garden in.

Number 2: Selecting Appropriate Size and Height

number 2 selecting appropriate size and height

Choosing the right size and height for your raised garden beds is crucial as it directly affects the health and productivity of your plants, as well as your overall gardening experience.

Optimal bed dimensions can vary based on your space saving the type and number of plants you intend to grow and your physical comfort. For most vegetables, a bed width of 3 to 4 feet is ideal, allowing for easy reaching to the center from either side without stepping into the bed.

This prevents soil compaction, which can hamper root growth. The length can be as long as you wish, but keeping it under 8 feet makes managing the bed for smaller plants more manageable. Height is another important consideration; 6 to 12 inches is sufficient for most crops, but if you’re looking to reduce bending and make gardening more accessible, going up to 24 inches can make a significant difference.

Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, however, benefit from deeper beds of at least 12 to 18 inches to accommodate their growth needs. By tailoring the size and height of your raised beds to meet these guidelines, you’ll foster a more productive and enjoyable gardening experience.

Vegetable Garden Layout Design Ideas

carrots coming up

A key strategy in maximizing your garden’s yield and health is to leverage seasons and themes when planning your vegetable garden layout.

Seasonal planning involves understanding which crops plant vegetables are best suited for your local climate throughout the year and organizing your planting schedule accordingly. For example, cool-season vegetables like lettuce, carrots, and peas can be planted in early spring or fall, while warm-season crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers thrive in the summer months. This approach not only extends your gardening season but also ensures a continuous supply of fresh produce.

Incorporating themed gardens into each raised bed offers another innovative layer to your garden planning. Creating a “pizza garden” with tomatoes, basil, oregano, and peppers can be both fun and practical, providing all the ingredients you need for a homemade pizza night right from your backyard.

Similarly, a “pollinator garden” filled with flowers and herbs that attract bees and butterflies can help improve soil quality and pollination for your vegetable crops while supporting local wildlife.

periennial pink plants

When it comes to arranging crops within your beds, you have the option to either mix varieties or keep them separate. Mixed planting can help reduce pests and disease spread between like plants and can be aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, dedicating each bed to a single crop type or theme can simplify management and harvesting tasks.

Ultimately, choosing a plan for each bed and considering these different strategies can make garden maintenance more organized and enjoyable. It also helps in determining the best size and height for each bed based on the specific needs of the plants you intend to grow, leading to a more successful and productive gardening experience.

Number 3: Choosing the Right Soil & Irrigation

number 3 chooseing the rigth soil and irrigation

The health of your garden begins with the quality of your soil. In raised bed gardening, choosing the right soil mixture is paramount to promoting robust plant growth and yield. Because these beds are above ground, they allow for full sun and better drainage and aeration, essential factors for healthy root systems. For an optimal soil mixture, consider blending one-third peat moss, one-third vermiculite, and one-third compost.

This combination provides a light, nutrient-rich environment only plants that retain moisture while offering enough space for roots to expand. Incorporating compost not only enriches the soil with essential nutrients but also promotes microbial activity, which is vital for plant health.

Number 4: Planning the Layout of Your Raised Beds

number 4 planning the layout

Square-Foot Gardening Layouts

Square-foot gardening is a simple and efficient way to structure your raised beds. By dividing the bed into 1-foot square sections, you can plan exactly how many plants fit in each square, optimizing space and reducing weed growth. This method encourages a high yield from a small area, making it ideal for gardeners looking to maximize productivity in limited space. It also simplifies crop rotation, as each square can be replanted with a different crop throughout the gardening and growing season.

square foot gardening

Raised Bed Garden Layout to Maximize Space

Designing a raised bed garden layout to maximize space involves careful consideration of plant spacing, height, and compatibility. Planting taller crops on the north side of the bed ensures that they don’t cast shade on shorter plants while deploying a mix of root, leaf, and vine plants can utilize space above and below the soil efficiently. Adding paths between beds wider than 2 feet can offer easy access for maintenance and harvest, preventing soil compaction around the plants.

Planning to Get the Most Out of Small Gardens

container garden

Small gardens require creativity to maximize their potential. Utilizing vertical space with trellises, wall-mounted planters, or hanging baskets can expand your growing area upwards. Choosing dwarf or bush varieties of plants saves ground space without sacrificing yield.

Here’s a post on growing in small spaces: Small Garden Space with 3 Ways to Increase Your Harvest

Incorporating container gardening offers flexibility in plant placement, allowing for the optimization of sunlight exposure. The key to small garden success is selecting plants with similar light and water needs to cohabit spaces harmoniously.

Plant Up Instead of Out

Implementing structures like arches, trellises, or vertical planters in your garden encourages plants to grow upwards rather than spreading out, conserving valuable ground space. This approach not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garden but also improves air circulation around plants, reducing the risk of disease.

Vertical gardening supports diverse planting options, from climbing vegetables like cucumbers and beans to ornamental flowers. This method is particularly effective in small gardens where space is at a premium.

Number 5: Selecting the Right Plants

number 5 selecting the right plants

Different Types of Vegetable Plants for Garden Planning

When selecting plants for raised bed gardening in a growing season, key factors to consider include plant size and growth habits, along with their sunlight and water needs. Opt for a mix of root vegetables like carrots and beets, leafy greens such as kale and lettuce, and fruiting varieties like tomatoes and cucumbers to create diversity.

Understanding the vertical space some plants require, such as trellised peas or pole beans, can also influence their placement in your vegetable garden layout to ensure every plant receives adequate resources.

planting plan for spring

Easy-to-Grow Varieties for Vegetable Garden Layout

For beginners, starting with easy-to-grow vegetables can lead to early success and foster ongoing gardening enthusiasm. Salad greens, cool season crops like spinach and loose-leaf lettuce, root vegetables including radishes and carrots, and herbs such as basil and cilantro require minimal care beyond regular watering and occasional fertilizing. Tomatoes, especially cherry or bush varieties, and zucchinis offer rewarding yields for novice gardeners, providing ample produce from just a few plants in a growing season. On this website, you can plan out your garden using a computer.

Companion Planting in Vegetable Garden Layout

Companion planting involves strategically placing plants together to enhance growth, deter pests, and increase pollination of other crops. Marigolds, for instance, can repel harmful nematodes when planted near tomatoes, while basil enhances the flavor of tomatoes and helps repel flies and mosquitoes. Incorporating flowers like nasturtiums can attract beneficial insects that predate common pests, creating a healthier and more productive vegetable garden.

Number 6: Regular Maintenance and Care of Vegetable Garden

number 6 regular maintenance

Regular watering, weeding, and fertilizing are critical components of maintaining a thriving raised bed garden. Plants in raised beds may require more frequent watering due to enhanced drainage; therefore, monitoring soil moisture closely ensures plants stay hydrated without being waterlogged.

Weeding is vital for eliminating competition for nutrients and light, allowing your vegetables to flourish. A balanced fertilizing routine supports healthy growth and maximizes yields. For pest management, consider using physical barriers only for plants such as row covers, and maintaining garden cleanliness to deter pests.

Additionally, practicing crop rotation and interplanting with pest-repellent plants can naturally reduce disease and pest issues in vegetable beds, helping to produce a healthy garden ecosystem in your vegetable garden.


In summary, planning a raised bed garden involves a series of strategic steps that, when followed, help you to create a productive garden in a small space.

The process begins with selecting the first plant requires the right location, and ensures your garden receives fresh meals, plenty of sunlight, and is protected from harsh conditions.

selecting the right plants for the veggie garden

Next, choosing suitable materials for your raised beds in your vegetable garden sets a solid foundation for plant growth. Preparing the soil with the right mix and nutrients promises a healthy start for your plants. Designing the layout of your beds with methods such as square-foot gardening optimizes the available space and boosts productivity.

Selecting the right plants for your vegetable garden, and considering their growth habits and needs, adds diversity and ensures a bountiful harvest for your own food. Lastly, regular maintenance through watering, weeding, and fertilizing keeps perennial plants in your garden thriving.

ways to make your garden planning successful

Embarking on your own raised bed gardening journey is not just a step towards an enjoyable hobby, but also a pathway to numerous benefits. From providing your family with fresh, homegrown vegetables, to beautifying your outdoor space, and even contributing to your own food and physical and mental well-being – there are so many advantages.

Today could be the day you begin this fulfilling adventure. Immerse yourself in the pleasure of nurturing your plants and witnessing your first garden’s growth. Remember, there’s no perfect vegetable garden layout. The fun lies in experimenting with different plant combinations to create a unique garden that caters to your specific needs. So, prepare to get your hands dirty and start your raised bed gardening journey now!

5 day lettuce challenge mock up

Join Our 5-Day Lettuce Growing Challenge – It’s Free!

Are you ready to dip your toes into the world of gardening with an easy and rewarding project? Sign up for our 5-Day Lettuce Growing Challenge! Perfect for beginners and seasoned gardeners alike, this challenge is designed to kickstart your gardening journey by teaching you how to grow lettuce in a small container.

This is your chance to build your vegetable garden confidence and expand your knowledge, all while enjoying the fruits of your labor (or in this case, the leaves!). The challenge is completely FREE to join, and by the end, you’ll have your fresh lettuce to enjoy. Don’t wait, start your gardening adventure today and discover the joys of homegrown produce. [Sign Up Now!]

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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