Designing a Vegetable and Herb Garden: Design Ideas

Learn Factors to Consider When Sketching Vegetable Garden Layout Designs

Gardener raking

Growing a vegetable and herb garden is a rewarding task, and earning how to design the garden is actually a fun process when you take your time and think things through. 

 Here are some factors to keep in mind when getting started:

  1. Determine Your Reasons for the Vegetable and Herb Garden: There are many reasons for growing a vegetable and herb garden, including ornamental purposes and practical purposes such as self-sustenance and growing organic foods. Knowing why you want to grow a vegetable and herb garden can help determine your design in terms of space, size and types of vegetables and herbs grown.  If you want it for ornamental or aesthetic purposes, the design might be to include a color schematic or theme.  Planting vegetables and herbs that flower or that bear some sort of color can brighten an otherwise dull landscape. Try to keep your primary goal in mind when you design a garden.

    Some people grow a vegetable and herb garden primarily for food, either to supplement the food they buy at the grocery store or because homegrown vegetables and herbs tend to be safer, especially when grown organically without the aid of harsh chemicals and pesticides.  If you want the garden for food, then the design might incorporate food or practicality themes. If you take the time for vegetable garden planning, your end result will be better.

  2. Sketch a Vegetable Garden Layout: After determining your needs and wants, sketch a layout. Don't fret - you don't have to have a special degree to come up with a vegetable garden design. When you sketch, keep in mind the size of the plants, how much total space you will need and any special considerations such as borders, mulching, landscape issues (rocks, trees, etc.) and whether you might add a container or two to your garden area. You don't have to be an artist to sketch the garden area. You can use blank paper or graph paper for a more technical sketch. With the graph paper, designate one square as a set measurement and build from there. You may also consider using a garden design ideas program. Just do a search on the Internet to find a garden design program that works for you.
  3. Determine Budget: Budget is always a factor; smaller or tighter budgets need more creativity in design. Container gardening or growing the garden from seed can save a lot of money. Determine how much money you can spend at the start and keep this in mind as you sketch your garden.
  4. Determine the Size and Space: When you design your vegetable and herb garden, keep in mind how much space you have available. The sketch you did at the beginning should help with this step. Even apartment-dwellers can have a vegetable and herb garden if they design it with a small space in mind; just pay close attention when you do your vegetable and herb garden design and space won't be an issue. You will need space for the plants, but also space to move around the garden when you have to harvest or weed. After you have figured out how much space is available, then decide how big the garden should be. Some vegetables need a lot of space; for example, tomatoes and peppers need a lot more space than lettuce and herbs. Even herbs can sometimes grow to a large size. Determine the space limitations; if you don't have a lot of space, consider raised bed and container gardening. Using containers to grow your vegetables and herbs doesn't require the space that a conventional garden does.
  5. Type: After you've determined which vegetables and herbs you would like in the garden, design the garden around them. While most vegetables and herbs need lots of full sun, some need more shade. Design the garden with these preferences in mind. Most vegetables and herbs are annuals, which means they are planted once and will only produce once. Herbs are more likely to be perennial or biennial (also called biannual) but some vegetables, such as asparagus, last many seasons. This means they produce more than once each season and may last into more than one growing season. Keep in mind that the plant you grow may last many seasons.
  6. Climate and Season: Season and climate can affect design of your vegetable and herb garden. Some vegetables and herbs are better for warmer climates while some are better suited for cooler climates. Design of the vegetable and herb garden should address this situation. For example, you could plant cooler weather plants that are quicker to grow, such as radish and peas, before the warmer weather plants, such as tomatoes and peppers. These cooler weather plants can be planted in the same space as the tomatoes and peppers because they mature before the tomatoes and peppers get a chance to start. Design your garden around your needs and desires and make this year's vegetable and herb garden a garden that you will love for years to come.
  7. Changes in Your Sketch: After you have carefully considered these factors, you may have to change your layout. Don't worry if it's not exactly as planned. Gardens change just as anything else. Be flexible in the planning, and as creative as you can in choice and layout.


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