How do You Plan a Garden?

As I have said before, I don’t know everything, but I am willing to try.  Having the information and the right tools to start or try a project is critical to success.

One of my goals for Small Scale Gardening is to serve as a warehouse of useful information about gardening, food preservation and wine making.  The Garden Trellis is a unique post on Small Scale Gardening because it will provide information from other blogs and sources that focus on a particular subject.

This post to other bloggers or writers, so if you would like to be featured on Small Scale Gardens, please e-mail me at, and you could be featured on Small Scale Gardening.

 This Garden Trellis is focused on Garden Planning

I have been teasing for some time about the second installment of the Evolution of Garden Design, which will discuss how I am changing the Small Scale Gardening raised beds and strategy this year.  As part of that introspection, I have been gathering articles from other great gardeners about Gardening Planning Process on the Small Scale Gardening Facebook site.

A great resource out there on this subject is the Modern Steader Blog (  Tim and Dave, the gentlemen behind the Modern Steader Blog, have developed a series about garden planning on their Steader Lessons page.  This series is all about the garden planning process which includes studying your garden space which will ultimately help you plan, design and build your gardens. To do this, the garden planning process is all about developing a base plan of your yard/planting area, completing a thorough site study and identifying microclimates.  The following section links to three of their excellent articles.

Developing a Base Plan

A Yard Base Plan.  Photo Courtesy of Modern Steader

Base Planning Process. Photo Courtesy of Modern Steader

A base plan is essentially a site plan of your space.  Tim and Dave (and I agree) recommend that you map out your space to scale.  This will serve as a blueprint for other studies and eventually laying out planters, raised beds and other gardens around your property.  The base plan allows you to get to know your property, make your mistakes on paper and plan for the future.  This is a key element of engineering projects I have worked on over the years, and the process will serve you well now and in the future.

Completing a Site Study

A Site Study with Sun, Wind and Water Details

Site Study Process. Photo Courtesy of Modern Steader

In the Completing a Site Study post, Tim and Dave recommend start looking at the character of your space.  Identify where the wind blows, where the water drains and where the shade is.  The critical elements to study are sun patterns (full sun, filtered sun, shade), winds, and water patterns.  This will help you locate garden beds and planters around your property and give you a better chance at getting plants to grow successfully.

 Identifying Microclimates

Microclimate Study using a Base Plan

Microclimate Study using a Base Plan. Photo Courtesy of Modern Steader

A microclimate is an area of your space (farm, yard or planting area) that has its own climate due to terrain or other variations.  Perhaps your yard does not have any trees or is shaded from your or your neighbor’s trees.  Perhaps you have a pipe or downspout that drains into a low spot in your area.  Perhaps you have a driveway area that gets great sun all day long but is windswept.  These would all be microclimates, and they need to be accounted for during garden design.

Tim does a great job walking us around his property, talking about specific areas that could be planted and other areas that will not be, all due to the microclimate in that particular area.  Tim and Dave do a great job discussing how you can make microclimates work for you.

Next Steps

Armed with this information, I am moving ahead with my garden planning and will post up the results soon.  I need to add some raised beds to my garden spaces this year, and I will definitely be developing a base plan and identifying microclimates this week.   I enjoy the planning process, so I am looking forward to sharing the results with you.

Perhaps this will inspire you as well.  How will you be changing your garden this year?

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