Where to Grow Your Garden
Location is everything, but what makes for a perfect spot?
The old real estate adage seems to always ring true, even when it comes to plants: Location is everything! Your garden needs the perfect growing spot—whether that’s in your yard, beside your front porch, or on a rooftop—to fully thrive. By considering garden must-haves like sunlight, healthy soil, and consistent care, you can help your plants find their happy place!
In your search for an ideal setting, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is it sunny? Take note of all the outdoor spaces where you might put your garden, and consider which season you plan to grow in. Light shifts depending on the time of year, so watch how and where it shines for a few days and you’ll start to see patterns of sun and shade. Since most veggies, herbs, and flowers need at least 6 to 8 hours of daily sun, your garden should go where it will get the most exposure throughout the day. If you can’t find an ideal spot, consider growing shade-tolerant plants, such as arugula, spinach, parsley, mint, ferns, or hostas. Or, if rays of light can only reach part of your garden, mix it up: Grow sun-loving plants in one section and shade-tolerant plants in another.
2. Is it flat? Level ground makes growing easier for you and your plants. A garden in a low spot, like at the base of a hill or on a dip in the middle, might end up retaining too much moisture. And soil can wash away from a garden placed on a steep slope. It may sound like the Goldilocks of gardening, but a flat, level place is "just right" for your beds or containers. This will prevent drainage and erosion problems, plus, you won’t need to do as much crouching or climbing to tend to it!
3. Is it close to a water source? You’ll be watering your garden a lot—at least once a week for in-ground and raised bed gardens, and once a day or more for container gardens. Make sure your hose can reach every single plant. A watering can works well for small gardens or individual plants, but lugging it back and forth to the spigot will tire you out quickly. Gardening is more fun when you set yourself up right.
4. Is it visible? Out of sight, out of mind applies to many things—including gardening. You’ll take better care of your plants, and enjoy them more if your garden is located where you can see it. When it’s just outside your window, or in a place where you walk through or past it every day, your veggies, herbs, and flowers will call out to you like a siren song for the love and attention they need.
5. How’s the soil? Plants need to be able to spread out and grab hold of the earth, and water and air need to flow through the plot of land they call home. This means soil matters, a lot. Soil holds the nutrients and moisture that your plants will use to get established, grow, and produce foliage, fruit, and flowers. To check if yours is fit for growing an in-ground garden, dig a small hole at least 6 inches deep and pull out the contents. If you find clay, sand, or lots of rocks, or if the texture feels dense and compact in your hands, improve the soil that’s there by adding organic matter or fresh, new soil.
6. Is it convenient? You’ll want easy access to your gardening tools, compost pile, and sidewalk or driveway (especially when you’re moving around heavy bags of soil or mulch). You may also want to gather around your garden with family and friends to admire the fruits of your labor, so consider places where there’s room to relax.
7. Is it the right size? Alright, this is kind of a trick question. The right size garden is the one that’s right for you—whether that’s one or two container plants, a raised bed, or a multi-row in-ground garden. Whatever style speaks to you, give your plants enough space for them to grow bigger without getting crowded. What’s tiny now won’t be for long! And don’t forget, you’ll need some room to maneuver, too. Extra space gives everyone a little added comfort.
Once you’ve settled on your garden’s location, you can have some fun imagining what comes next. Lay your garden hose on the lawn to “trace” outlines for beds, or place empty containers to see how they’ll look in different spots. When you’re confident you’ve found the ideal place to grow your veggies, herbs, and flowers, you can move from planning to planting!