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Vegetable garden planning - in easy steps

Updated on February 7, 2014

Vegetable Garden Planning Guide

Spring is almost upon us, so it is time to start planning your vegetable garden. Vegetable garden planning may feel like an overwhelming job but it can be made easier by following some easy steps. This page will help you to plan a vegetable garden step by step. After following these suggestions, you may choose to draw your plan on graph or grid paper, but even more easily, you could use some vegetable garden planning software available on-line (used to produce the vegetable garden plan on the left).

As you know, it's much healthier for you to eat freshly picked, home-grown vegetables and that nothing tastes quite as good as vegetables you've grown yourself. A store bought tomato cannot compete with a home-grown, red tomato fresh out of the garden. By growing your own vegetables, you can ensure that your "fresh" food really is fresh - you can harvest it and eat it on the same day. And you can choose, like me, to grow your vegetables organically without any added pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or any other "nasti-cides" for that matter!

So don't be put off. Read this page to get some vegetable garden planning ideas, then grab a measuring tape, a pencil and paper and get started!

The above plan was created using this vegetable garden planning tool.

Draw a Rough Plan of Your Yard

Some measuring involved

Getting your vegetable garden plan on paper or on the computer will give you direction, help keep you focused, and help you to be able to allocate space for all the vegetables you wish to grow. Start by drawing a rough plan of your block showing the outline of your house and any other buildings such as garages, sheds, pergolas etc or any permanent features such as a pool, decking, driveways or trees etc. Now you will need to write measurements on this drawing. You can get this information from your title or measure it yourself using a long tape measure or a piece of string marked off in feet or metres. It's easier to have two people if you need to measure your block - one for each end of the string or tape measure.

Planning the size of your Vegetable Garden
Planning the size of your Vegetable Garden

Planning the size of your Vegetable Garden

Next you will need to plan how much space in your yard you want to allocate to your vegetable garden. You may wish to leave space for:

© Copyright Will Merydith

and licensed for reuse under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license .

  • the children to play

  • the dog to run

  • the clothes to dry

  • entertaining

  • barbeque

  • picnic table

  • views from the house

  • compost bin

  • rubbish bins

  • dog kennel

  • shed

  • greenhouse

  • pool

  • sand pit

  • chicken coop

  • rabbit hutch

  • pond

  • seat

  • flowers

  • butterfly garden

  • gazebo

  • . . . .

If you are just starting out, it may be a good idea to start with one small vegetable garden bed and then add more beds at a later date, if you have the room . So even if you start with just one garden bed, remember to allow room for expansion. As your confidence, ability, and love for fresh, home-grown veggies grow, you may wish to add more.

Don't fret if you only have a small space for your vegetable garden. Think vertical. Many vegetables can grow up on a fence, trellis or tepee to make your available space more productive. Up is good. After all, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are one of the seven wonders of the ancient world!

Draw your vegetable garden beds plan

on paper or on the computer screen

Make a grid of squares on paper or use graph paper. If you have a large garden, each square could represent 5 feet (1.5 metres - or 1 metre). If your garden is small, each square could represent 1 foot (30cm). Transfer your rough plan of your yard onto the grid or graph paper using a ruler to draw your straight lines.

You can now decide where is the best place to put your vegetable garden. Don't think that this needs to be restricted to your backyard. A couple of years ago, I created a vegetable garden, also containing flowers, in my front yard. Bear in mind that you will need to take into account the direction of the prevailing wind and how much sun the position receives.

Do you want to incorporate any other elements into your vegetable garden - a seat for daydreaming, a sundial, a scarecrow, some urns, statues or a pond (resident frogs can help provide insect control)? Once you have made your decisions, draw your vegetable garden beds on the graph paper in your desired veggie garden layout or use the vegetable garden planning software (like I did here) which will make this process even easier.

The Essential Garden Design Workbook

The Essential Garden Design Workbook
The Essential Garden Design Workbook

This book goes into much more detail about how to plan your garden (not just your veggies). There are much more detailed instructions on the best way to measure your yard before drawing your plan. You will learn about space, light and proportion. Read about planning an outdoor space, vertical and overhead elements, and the use of different materials.

choosing vegetables to grow
choosing vegetables to grow

Planning which vegetables you want in your garden

Now you will need to decide on which vegetables to grow in your garden. If you are new to vegetable gardening, you may like to start with some of the easier to grow vegetables. Easy vegetables to grow include beetroot, swiss chard (silverbeet), broad beans, carrots, lettuce, shallots, peas (including sugar snap and snow peas), green beans, radishes, potatoes and tomatoes. But don't plan to grow a particular type of vegetable in your garden that you don't like and so won't eat.

Picture courtesy of cooee on morguefile.

(Why anyone would bother planting broad beans is beyond me....) And don't be afraid to try other vegetables. Read the packet or the punnet information carefully and give them a try.

It is a good idea to make a list of the vegetables and herbs you eat and cook with on a regular basis and maybe even add a few you would like to try. You could look at the seed packets or seedling punnets available at your garden supply centre to get new ideas. Sort this list into columns: "Essential", "Would Like" and "If I have room". If you are a new gardener, try to include some of the easier vegetables to ensure at least some success.

Be sure to check on the back of the seed packet to find the correct season for planting in your area.

If you only have space for a small vegetable garden, you may choose to grow vegetables and herbs which produce a decent harvest in a short amount of time and do not take up much space (such as carrots, radishes, lettuces, chives, parsley, leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes and bush snap beans). You may wish to avoid those that take up a lot of room and time only to return a small harvest (such as sweet corn, pumpkins and melons).

When deciding of how many of each plant to grow, you must take into account how much of that vegetable you are likely to eat and also the average yield for that vegetable. Some plants may yield a prolific crop. If you plant too many, you may find your family getting tired of your creative ways of cooking zucchini (boiled zucchini, stir-fried zucchini, scrambled zucchini, broiled zucchini, baked zucchini, poached zucchini, zucchini burgers, zucchini soup, zucchini pancakes, zucchini muffins, ......)

Help with choosing which vegetables to grow

Choosing Which Vegetables To GrowChoosing which vegetables to grow is part of planning your vegetable garden. Your choice will depend on what you like to eat, your level of expertise, where you live, the time of year, the size of your vegetable garden and your reasons for wanting a to grow your own vegetables.

Easy vegetables to grow - Let's see if we can decide which are the all-time easiest vegetables to grow!

Click on the box next to the vegetable you have found the easiest to grow, then click vote (at the bottom)

See results

The garden layout below was produced using an easy-to-use garden planning tool.

Planning where to place the veggies in your garden

Now plan where to plant the vegetables from your list, starting with the "Essential" veggies. (If you are using the same vegetable garden planner tool as I did, this is easy: just select your veggie then drag and drop into position.) Bear in mind the following points:

  • Different vegetables have different space requirements. For example, one broccoli plant will require more room than one carrot plant and one pumpkin plant can ramble all over your back yard. Make sure you leave enough space for the mature plant. The gardening software I used makes it easy to see the space needed for the fully mature plant.
  • You don't want taller vegetables such as sweet corn and tomatoes blocking the sun from the lower varieties such as lettuces and spinach.
  • Some vegetables such as sweet corn do better if they are planted together so they can easily cross-fertilize.
  • It is recommended that you practice crop rotation. If you plant the same family of vegetables in the same plot each year, it may encourage the build up of pests and diseases in the soil. Crop rotation will also avoid depleting the soil of nutrients. The main vegetable families for crop rotation include:
    • brassicas: cabbages, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflowers, kale, swedes, turnips, radishes, salad rocket, kohl rabi, mustard
    • potato: potatoes, eggplants, capsicums, tomatoes
    • legume: beans, peas, broad beans
    • onion: onions, garlic, shallots, leeks
    • carrot: carrots, parsnips, celery, celeriac
  • ... for example - don't plant broccoli in a spot one year, then cauliflower in the same spot next year since they are both from the brassica family. The vegetable garden software I used will keep track of where you position each vegetable and will give you a warning in subsequent years if you try to plant something from the same family in that spot. (Check out my
  • crop rotation vegetable garden
  • .)
  • It will make cultivation of your soil easier if you separate your perennial crops (which live for three years or more) such as rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, asparagus, oregano, rosemary and sage from your other vegetables which are mostly annual (living for one year or less).

More Helpful Resources

The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season
The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season

Learn how to create a 24 different small vegetable gardens and how to look after and expand them year by year.

Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens
Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens

There's so much to learn and get your head around when you start gardening that it can all seem a little overwhelming at times. This book will guide you through the steps and even has a variety of garden plans which you can expand over the years as your knowledge and skills increase.


Sample Garden Plans

Click thumbnails for larger view

Note: not all of these are vegetable gardens, but you can get ideas of garden beds' shapes and layouts which may inspire you.











Some extra help for your vegetable garden planning

Tell us about your plans for your vegetable garden this year

Fellow gardeners . . .

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    • BowWowBear profile image

      BowWowBear 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, great planning info here and some very useful links to other sites!

    • profile image

      HouseBuyersOfAmerica 4 years ago

      Useful information! Thanks for sharing.

    • lgOlson profile image

      L. Olson 5 years ago from Northern Arizona

      Very nice lens and tremendously useful information!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish I can garden much but given that we are often not home, I can only enjoy the pictures.

    • profile image

      TheGardenGuys 5 years ago

      Good advice. Nice lens. I'm more interested in lawncare myself, but it's nice to see the vegetable growers.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I wish i had more place on balcony. Small garden with herbs would be perfect for me.

    • profile image

      JeffSawyer 5 years ago

      Good lens.Effective way to do gardening and growing vegetables at yard

    • profile image

      dioniz 5 years ago

      It's winter here, time to begin planning for next year. Good tips!

    • profile image

      nifwlseirff 5 years ago

      A great planning lens for the vegetable gardener! My balcony vegetable garden is going dormant as we head into winter. Next year I plan to have more peas, beans, tomatoes (which were mutant sized this year), lettuce and asian greens and a large variety of fresh herbs.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Absolutely great tips for me... Blessings!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My father loves to cultivate vegetables and fruits. His garden is very big and I am following him LOL... It is very relaxing, there are tomatoes, papaya, etc and herbs for my mom to cook. My granddad was an Italian, agronomy engineer... So it goes through generations.... love your lens...

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      1st time I've ever planted a garden and most everything is coming up but the pepers?

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Always love vegetable garden lenses and all works of you.. dear, GonnaFly :) Have a wonderful time.. always :D

    • Dickstucki1 profile image

      Dickstucki1 5 years ago

      This is good information. Thank you.

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 5 years ago from Australia

      @Rickcpl: GrowVeg garden planner:-)

    • profile image

      Rickcpl 5 years ago

      Whats the software called????

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great planning. Plan to vegetable garden is equal to plan to healthy living. Thanks for sharing.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Really great information - I am actively getting into gardening this year in a big way. Angel Blessed!

    • oldmedic profile image

      oldmedic 5 years ago

      Thanks very much for helpful and practical information. We were looking for some ideas on how to plan and improve our garden and this information was very valuable to us. Great tips.

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      This info is helpful! I had to email your link for the gardening software to my husband. That looks like it would come in handy later!

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 5 years ago from Sweden

      Such a loving lens! Clear and easy to understand. Nice photos and captions. Blessings from a Garden Angel

    • profile image

      Sergios_Landscaping 5 years ago

      Planning is definitely a must before starting a project which includes even a garden. This post is a good source of information for garden enthusiasts, young and old, in order to help them create the garden of their dreams. Being a lawn maintenance Phoenix service provider, we believe that in order to have a successful thriving garden, planning is essential.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      This truly is an awesome resource of information.

    • jstarley profile image

      jstarley 5 years ago

      I have a small garden and I also grow vine veggies against my house. Very informative info.

    • Scraps2treasures profile image

      Scraps2treasures 6 years ago

      Great tips! I have started some seeds and am getting ready to plan where I want to put everything. I can't wait for spring to get here so I can get outside and play in the dirt :)

    • awesomedealz4u profile image

      awesomedealz4u 6 years ago

      Carrots and onions are already to decide what to plant next month :)

    • Dustbunnyodoom profile image

      Dustbunnyodoom 6 years ago

      I can't wait for spring to get here, but until then I am quite content with planning my vegetable garden.

    • profile image

      gemjane 6 years ago

      Tomatoes and sweet peppers are always on my list of what I'll grow. I also do onions, green beans, sweet corn, lettuce. Spinach, cabbage most years. I've grown potatoes a few times. I grew turnips a couple times, and am going to plant them again this year. We have an asparagus patch and rhubarb. Don't have much luck with cauliflower, carrots or beets. We don't have very good soil for melons, but I usually grow them and get a few! (Sometimes it's the groundhogs that get the melons first!)

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for the inspiration as I plan my garden for this growing season.

    • Vallygems1 profile image

      Vallygems1 6 years ago

      Great I am off to plant

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      A Perfect Planning Guide!

    • GardenBuildingsUK profile image

      GardenBuildingsUK 6 years ago

      Very handy ineed. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Keithm2576 6 years ago

      I love vegetable gardening almost as much as I love eating vegetables! So any tools that help to make planning and laying out a vegetable garden easier is a fantastic idea. I have been trying to put together a site myself, My Vegetable Garden Planner, to help like minded gardeners understand the planning process and I will certainly be recommending they look at this tool to help them. Thanks gonnafly.

    • Patduffy profile image

      Patduffy 6 years ago

      I have to admit, the garden outlines produced by that software impressed me. I grow a garden in the majority of my backyard every year, and go by memory as to what I should rotate where.I definitely will give that planner a try

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Very handy tool and very well explained!

    • profile image

      BillSimmons 6 years ago

      This software is great! I usually end up planting things too close.

    • profile image

      cufflinksuk 6 years ago

      Really a good work. I like your lens

    • Muzzie4848 profile image

      Muzzie4848 6 years ago

      Another fantastic lens. Just featured on my heart lamb and vegetable soup recipe lens.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 6 years ago from Covington, LA

      No fooling, this is a wonderful lens. I'm in your neighborhood for only today and I'm leaving a blessing from the Angel of Farmyard Animals.

    • profile image

      PlantPlanters 7 years ago

      Another great idea to incorporate into the vegetable gardens is to use containers. Unfortunately I was not born with a green thumb, so I am always having to make adjustments to the sun and water requirements. The easiest solution so for has been for me to use plant planters that I can make around according to the needs of the plants.

    • ravi551854 profile image

      ravi551854 7 years ago

      very good green service

    • profile image

      ZazzleEnchante 7 years ago

      Very informative, useful lens, with great tips. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 7 years ago from Texas

      This is an amazing lens. It's super informative and visually attractive as well. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. We're going to start growing veggies next spring.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I always enjoy your gardening lenses, thank you! - Kathy

    • kohuether lm profile image

      kohuether lm 7 years ago

      I wish I were this organized! Last time I had a garden I didn't plan it, and things were a bit chaotic. You made a convincing case for planning it, though!

    • profile image

      Grawr 7 years ago

      Awesome lens!

      We just moved house and want to put a vegetable garden in our own garden. Looks like we'll be using your guides. Great work :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      The Vegetable Garden Planner software is really neat. You have some wonderful info here and I appreciate your sharing your Vegetable Gardening knowledge. We used to always have a large Vegetable Garden but now mainly plant tomatoes. One can never have too many tomatoes. Lensrolling to my Tomato Pie Recipe.

    • hayleylou lm profile image

      hayleylou lm 7 years ago

      This is one of those things that I really want to get around to but never seem to have the time - this time next year maybe - a great lens, with lots of info - like this lens :) and have also visited a few of your others - I am now a fan :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 7 years ago

      I just planted some herbs two weeks ago. Neat to see them growing and cant wait to use them in my meals.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Very helpful lens. I've bookmarked it :) Great work!

    • KiwiSanet profile image

      KiwiSanet 7 years ago

      Great lens! Planning is important to having a constant supply of fresh vegetables from the garden. This looks like an excellent tool to help with the planning process. Does the software give tips on what crops goes well together and companion planting or warnings for others that is better to kept apart? I have also visited your website I like the very compact GrowGuide Plant Information section and will be back for more visits!

    • WritingforYourW profile image

      WritingforYourW 7 years ago

      I have raised veggie beds and raspberries and fruit trees. Gonna add a picnic table and fire pit and stuff this year, so it's fun to hang out there all the time. :)

    • profile image

      petersams 8 years ago

      You have an awesome lens. Looking at those vegetables above makes my mouth watery. I like those vegies.

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 8 years ago

      Great Lens! I've tried to do a vegetable garden, but have never had much luck. Next year I'll try some of your tips and see if I can be a little more successful. Thanks!

    • purplefire profile image

      purplefire 8 years ago

      I'll remember your lens when I move into a house. Hopefully I'll have the space then to make my own garden. Good job.

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 8 years ago

      Wonderful lens. I'll have to remember this when I plan to have a garden. Right now in apt. :( 5*.

    • profile image

      OliverW 8 years ago

      I like this lens! The content lives up to the title. The steps are clearly presented and are very easy to follow. Great job!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 8 years ago

      Looking at your lens makes me hungry. :-) 5 stars

    • profile image

      CatJGB 8 years ago

      Ooh, I need to plan my veggie garden for my new house. That we're still looking for, so I have a bit of time ha! Nice lens!