Your Garden Location is really important; here are a few ideas to help you pick the best spot! All plants, flowers and vegetables need certain elements to grow well and to be productive. Taking the time to research your best garden spot is time well spent.
We learned the hard way on what not to do when looking for a good place to put our garden. After having tree roots and bushes invade our beautiful garden location, we had to step back and evaluated where we went wrong.
There are number of things to consider when planning your garden. Reviewing the 6 Steps on How to Find the Perfect Garden Spot first will help save a lot of headaches.
HOW TO FIND THE PERFECT GARDEN SPOT
Vegetables need a few things to be productive……..they grow best when these 6 basic conditions are taken into consideration. Evaluating these elements up front will help ensure a great garden.
- Wind Protection
- Good Soil with Good Drainage
- Keeping Animals Out
The majority of plants need at least 6 hours of full Sunshine each day. Plants actually do better with 8 hours of full sunshine but 6 hours is the bare minimum.
So, your first criteria for finding a great garden spot is an area that receives 6 hours of full sunshine. Morning sun is wonderful as it is not too hot and can slowly awaken your vegetable batch.
There are a few vegetables that do well in part sun/part shade and almost all shade. So, the #1 item on the top of your list is Sunshine.
A good source of available water is a must
The next step to insure a great garden spot is water. All plants need adequate moisture to grow. This water can be from a variety of sources but it needs to be from a simple, straightforward source:
- The easiest is natural Rain Water plus catch some in your Deluxe Rain Barrel
- Irrigation Water which will have to be monitored as to the flow and application in the garden
- Sprinkler System Snip-n-Spray Garden and Landscape Sprinkler System
- Drip System Snip-n-Drip Soaker Hose System
- Manual Sprinklers like this Hi-Rise Lifetime Sprinkler which we have used for years. No moving parts. Super durable. I have 3 of these sprinklers which I hook together with shutoff valves so I can water different areas of my garden at different times.
THE BEGINNING RULE OF THUMB:
Plants need approximately 1 inch of water per week. In more arid climates, you will need to add an extra 1/2 inch per every 10 degrees above 60 degrees.
There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when implanting this rule. Soil quality needs to be considered in regard to moisture holding capacity along with drainage capabilities.
If you have a more sandy soil, then you will need to plan on providing additional water along with working to build up a more loamy soil.
If you have a heavy, clay soil then you will need to reduce the amount of water and work on building the soil with peat moss, compost and sand to create a more loamy type soil.
#3 WIND PROTECTION:
Protection from moisture reducing wind is vital
Protecting your garden area from direct wind is very important. Strong, drying winds draw moisture out of the leaves of the plants adding stress during high growing periods. Reducing the impact of wind greatly increases your productivity. There are several types of fencing that offer great garden protection.
- Slatted Snow Fence is easy to install and very reliable plus relatively inexpensive
- Plastic Fencing is lightweight and is also easy to install, relatively inexpensive alternative but not very permanent. This has free shipping.
- Wooden Fencing is a great more permanent solution
- Garden Structures such as greenhouses or garden sheds can be placed strategically to protect your garden area for direct winds
- 4″ x 4″ Wire Fence can act like a Trellis for peas or climbing plants as well as provide a wind break for more sensitive vegetables
- Willow Fencing
This is an important step
Soil quality is extremely important when picking a great garden location but it is also something that can be created by adding soil amendments that increase overall soil quality.
Doing a quick soil test plus adding soil amendments will greatly improve your garden’s overall productivity. Building your garden soil is an ongoing project that you will do every year.
Try this inexpensive, simple soil pH test kit to determine the acidity or alkalinity of your garden soil.
DIY SOIL pH TEST:
- Take one cup of your garden soil from various parts of your garden area.
- Place 2 tablespoons of this dirt into 2 different small containers
- In the first container add 1/2 cup of vinegar (acid) and watch for any bubbles. The vinegar will bubble up if your soil is alkaline somewhere in the 7.5 to 8 range
- If you soil does not bubble, then add 1/2 distilled water in the other container with the small dirt sample, and 1/2 cup baking soda (base). If your soil is more acid, then the baking soda will bubble.
Make sure to let each mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vinegar and baking soda need time to mix with the soil samples. Watch and listen for bubbles. This is a great experiment to do with kids, too.
This will give you a quick heads up as to the approximate pH of your soil. From this point, you can adjust your soil’s pH by buffering it either way. Remember this takes time as the soil particles and micro-organisms readjust themselves.
(As a side note: most weed killers are either acids or salts which are bases. pH is very important with all plant life so if we get it wrong, our gardens suffer.)
pH SOIL PROBLEMS AND QUICK FIXES:
- Alkaline Soil: add Peat Moss as it will lower the pH plus Peat Moss adds volume to the soil creating more loam for a loamier type soil that allows some air circulation. Loamy type soils also have more capacity to retain water and drain water better. Use a Rototiller or simply dig the Peat Moss into the dirt with a garden fork
- Acid Soil: add wood ash from your wood stove or oyster shell which is available from your local feed store. Fork in the wood ash or oyster shell with your garden fork
Heavy Clay Soil are usually rich in nutrients but this type of soil needs added sand to break up the clumps of fine clay particles that stick together to make your so more loamy and more plant friendly.
(Here is a super easy test to determine if you have clay soil. Pick up a handful of dirt and rub some between your fingers. If the soil falls apart and does not stick together, then you do not have a heavy clay soil. But, if the dirt balls up like molding clay, then you guessed it: heavy clay.
Add the sand plus compost and rotten manure. You can also grow a cover crop for a “green manure” that helps increase soil quality by the roots breaking up the heavy clay structure and then by rototilling the cover crop directly into the existing garden soil.
Sandy Soil needs added organic materials like: compost and rotten manure. Compost and manure should be added at the rate of about 1″ over the entire garden area. Simply use your Rototiller or garden fork to work this material into the soil.
Stainless Border Forks are Beautiful as well as Functional. They come with a Life Time Guarantee
RELATED POST: from my friend Susan at A Country Garden Journal: PLANTING LOCATION FOR FRUIT TREES
FOR FURTHER EDUCATIONAL READING: THE NEW ORGANIC GARDENER
Also, make sure to read up on Mulching for Garden Success as Mulch helps build soil structure, suppress weeds while conserving soil moisture. This type of mulch is extremely helpful in building productive, healthy soil. Just make sure you watch for any nitrogen deficiencies in your plants.
As the wood chips or any organic matter breaks down, it can rob your soil of Nitrogen which is one of the 3 biggies in gardening. Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are vital nutrients for healthy plants.
An All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer is a great way to insure your garden is getting the needed nutrients. Look for something that had soil matter along with the nutrients. This is especially important as you work on building your garden soil.
Take wild and domestic animals into consideration where planning your garden location
Wildlife as well as domestic animals can really wreak havoc in your vegetable garden. Just imagine 3 horses running wildly across your lettuce, carrots and tomato plants……we learned the hard way! Between rabbits, mice, ground squirrels, robins (they love strawberries), deer, moose, snakes, raccoons, skunks and whatever else……..something is always thinking your garden looks delicious. It is very disappointing to have your hard work destroyed overnight. So, a bit of planning is well worth it. This step can be coupled with the next step on fencing……..
Proper fencing is extremely important as it can help with both wind and animal protection.
Fencing is super important as it is the key factor in protecting your great garden location. Fencing aids in wind and animal protection.
There are some great ideas available on fencing that are practical as well as aesthetically pleasing. The photo of the willow fencing below is an example of beauty and practicality.
This type of willow fencing is great for wind protection as well as offering some protection from wildlife.
Willow fencing also helps to keep dogs and cats out of your vegetable batch. Cats love the soft dirt but you do not want them digging to use your garden as a litter box!
LARGE GARDEN AREAS:
If you have a large garden area, then you might need to a more economical form of fencing. We have used hog panels and horse panels to keep out large livestock.
If you have a deer population, you might need a 6-foot fence which can be achieved with post and wire.
We have also had great success with Livestock Panels that we have used as horse corrals. These are movable panels that can be taken down and moved if need be.
They come in various dimensions so are easy to use. If you have a rabbit problem, then simply run chicken wire or some other type of wire around the bottom of your panels.
Also, consider some type of automatic sprinkler with a motion sensor!!! These are great at scaring potential midnight raiders out of your garden. Plus, these motion sensor sprinklers will water your garden at the same time!!! Win-Win!!
In conclusion, knowing how to find the perfect garden spot is really about being sensible and careful when deciding where to plant your garden. It needs to be easily accessible, easy to water and easy to maintain in order to be enjoyable as well as productive!!