Building a garden plot in your backyard is one of the more basic of DIY tasks that a person can do. A garden that is both functional and attractive looking can be an asset to your family while also adding value to your home. Do it wrong, however, and you’ll end up creating a lot of extra work for yourself.
With 40 years of DIY gardening experience behind me, here are the four most important lessons I learned when it comes to creating planting or vegetable beds in the backyard.
Don’t be overly ambitious
My first garden plot was a massive 30′ x 40′ plot that I carved out of the backyard of our home. For someone new to gardening, this is simply too large and you’ll find yourself (like I did) becoming overrun with weeds and pests. From this experience I learned that it’s always best to start with a small flower or vegetable plot first and then expand as you gain more experience and refine your gardening techniques.
Seek out expert advice
Dad used to say that it “makes no sense to keep reinventing the wheel” and the same goes for gardening as well. For example, I spent nearly ten years trying to grow Big Boy and Beefsteak tomatoes without success until finally discovering that they aren’t recommended in our planting zone due to our short growing season. A gardener can waste a lot of time and money “reinventing the wheel” which is why I now get expert advice from local nurseries and the County Extension services who can recommend flower and vegetable strains that will work.
Give yourself plenty of space
Another mistake I used to make quite frequently was to plant shrubs and trees too close to the house and too close to each other. While this looks great for the first few years, over time the plants will crowd each other and damage the structure of the house as well. These days I pay close attention to the spacing requires of all my shrubs, trees, and plants including the vegetables. Adequate spacing improves air circulation, exposure to sunlight and reduces pests which makes for healthier plants.
Start with a good foundation
Just like a house won’t last without a foundation, a garden also needs a good foundation for plants to thrive. I’ve learned through experience that my garden is happier if I rotate my crops and add soil amenities like composted garden waste and steer manure to my beds before a new set of plants go in. Trying to save money and time here means weak looking plants and low yields which sort of defeat the purpose of growing your own food crops to begin with.
Creating attractive garden beds in your yard may seem like a simple project but takes a bit more work than many people think. Good soil, plenty of space, the right plant varieties for the area, and taking care not to get overly ambitious in your garden plans is the key to a successful garden plot.
More by this contributor:
How to make a container rock garden
My 10 best organic gardening tips
Nine tips for veggie gardening in a semi arid, high desert climate