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How to Build a Backyard Vegetable Garden

Updated on September 12, 2014

Cassi's Garden

When we moved into our house I decided that I wanted to have a real garden. Square foot and container gardening didn't work where we were before.

Building a garden from scratch takes a lot of hard work and hours. If it's not something you'll be committed to caring for it's not worth the effort. However, if you like watching your creation growing and reaping the rewards then building your own garden is the way to go.

(All pictures but the top view are taken by me. That one is from the Google Maps view of my house.)

Best Location
Best Location

Location, Location, Location!

Once you've determined you're willing to put in the effort to build and maintain a garden you need to figure out where to place it. Here are some things to consider:

Where will your plants receive the most sunlight?

How accessible is the location?

Where is the flattest area?

What do you want to plant?

Now that you know where you're planting you need to determine what you want. There are so many varieties in existence but it's better to start with the easiest to care for. You'll need to decide whether you want to start from seed or starter plants.

Planning the Layout

Now that you have the where and the what you need to determine the how - how your garden will look. Some can do this on graph paper. Others can do this in Excel.

I prefer an all-in-one source such as You can enter your region, the size of the garden, the orientation of the garden, and all the vegetables you're planting. It'll produce a recommended layout for where to plant everything.

Not only does this site help with the layout but also gives you a calendar of activities to care for your garden, from soil testing to harvesting. You can use the site as much or as little as you wish but it has a wealth of information.

Some Things You'll Need

These are just a sampling of the supplies you'll need to build the garden in your back yard. Purchasing these exact items isn't necessary.

Starting Indoors

There are several plants that you'd need to start indoors (i.e. tomatoes & peppers). Pick up one of the little greenhouses with the peat pods and follow the instructions included with the packaging.

Keep the greenhouses out of the way of little children and pets. Our cat tried to steal one of my pods but we caught her running away with it in her mouth.

Dug Out
Dug Out

Dig, Dig, Dig

You have the logistics all squared away so it's time for the manual labor. Grab a pointed shovel with a raised step to make it easier to dig. Depending on the thickness of the grass roots, any tree roots, and the size of your garden, it can take hours or days to dig up the soil. Take the grass away in a wheelbarrow. You can use the strips to fill in any bare patches or holes found in your yard.

Adding the dirt
Adding the dirt

Getting Dirty

Once all the grass is cleared away you'll need to level out the little hills made by the shovel. I used the cultivator to do this. Add your preferred edging (plastic, wood, stone). Add the garden soil. Use the cultivator to mix the existing dirt with the garden soil.

Get Planting

Ready for Planting
Ready for Planting

Add your seeds and starters according to the seed packets and/or Watch your garden grow!

Either before or after you plant everything you should add a fence made with chicken wire and stakes. Even the little starters attract critters and you'll find plants going missing.

Garden Photos - 2013

Click thumbnail to view full-size
It's definitely a giant weed.  There's another like it in the front yard.One of the groundhogs that invaded my gardenCucumber plant with the first stake 7/12/13Beans 7/21/13Bean harvest 7/28/13Beans, cucumbers, and single tomato harvest 8/11/138/21/13 Harvest8/26/13 Harvest8/28/13 Harvest
It's definitely a giant weed.  There's another like it in the front yard.
It's definitely a giant weed. There's another like it in the front yard.
One of the groundhogs that invaded my garden
One of the groundhogs that invaded my garden
Cucumber plant with the first stake 7/12/13
Cucumber plant with the first stake 7/12/13
Beans 7/21/13
Beans 7/21/13
Bean harvest 7/28/13
Bean harvest 7/28/13
Beans, cucumbers, and single tomato harvest 8/11/13
Beans, cucumbers, and single tomato harvest 8/11/13
8/21/13 Harvest
8/21/13 Harvest
8/26/13 Harvest
8/26/13 Harvest
8/28/13 Harvest
8/28/13 Harvest

2014 Garden

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Week 1Week 2Week 3
Week 1
Week 1
Week 2
Week 2
Week 3
Week 3

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