A vegetable garden is the pinnacle of any backyard and as well as being the beautiful centerpiece, they come with a lot of other benefits.
A carefully curated veggie patch will give you access to the farm-to-table experience with fresh, tasty produce, and fill your spare time with something satisfying and enjoyable to work on.
Although a popular asset, planning a vegetable garden requires some work, and it’s more than just making sure it looks good.
There’s a lot of moving parts to consider with a veggie patch no matter how big or small it is, but the rewards will be more than worth it.
What should be considered with vegetable garden design?
You’ll need to look at the planned space to see how the sun and shade hit it, think about drainage, irrigation, and whether you’ll plant a vertical garden or just a standalone bed.
The next big challenge is choosing the vegetables you’ll grow and determining which are compatible to plant together and which aren’t.
All of this forward planning will pay off in the long run, so getting the design of the garden just right should be your first goal.
If you’re an amateur in the veggie patch but want to get it right, we’ve covered all of the elements of vegetable garden design to ensure you do it properly without having to do it all again.
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Does the Design of a Vegetable Garden Matter?
Gardening is a versatile hobby that can be done just about anywhere.
No matter what you’re planting, the weather conditions, and whether you’re doing it indoors or out, you’ll be able to find a plant that can make it all possible.
When it comes to vegetables, things can be a little harder, and it’s not so easy to just throw some seeds in a container and hope for the best.
Regardless of the size of the vegetable garden you’re planting, you’ll want to have at least a basic design in mind so you can guarantee the best drainage, sun aspect, shade, water, and compatibility with other plants.
Although it seems like there’s a lot to consider, it’s not that hard to do, provided you break down each of these parts into separate areas.
You might only need to spend a few minutes designing a vegetable garden or it can take weeks, and this will all depend on how grand you want it to be and what you plan on growing within your veggie patch.
Companion planting is the process of planting certain things together that will be beneficial to the other.
This planning is usually done when growing things like vegetables and herbs as they tend to have more of an impact on each other, so it’s important to do your research and layout a garden plan.
There are many reasons to plan out your veggie patch with compatibility in mind, as these plants can affect each other significantly when not done right, and will achieve better growth when they are.
A plant must be considered for its root growth, height and width, shape, flowers, and pest attraction, and then planted alongside others that will prove beneficial in these areas.
Vegetables That Go Well Together
If you want a peaceful vegetable garden and to promote growth with the right pairing, keep these vegetables together for the best results.
- Artichoke: cucumber
- Corn: beans, cucumber, peas, pumpkin, parsnip
- Pumpkin: corn, marjoram
- Spinach: strawberries, beetroot, onion
- Swede: onion, turnip
Vegetables That Need to Stay Separate
The easiest way to plan a veggie patch is by looking at the families of vegetables and keeping the opposing ones apart.
Here are some plants that don’t appreciate the company of the other.
- Peas: onion, garlic, potatoes, shallots
- Leek: beans and peas
- Radish: hyssop
- Parsnip: carrot, celery, caraway
- Carrots: dill
Vegetables That Can Go Anywhere
These vegetables are low maintenance in terms of their neighbors.
If you’re looking for filler plants or don’t want to spend too much time planning what should go where they’re easy choices.
Sun Exposure and Shade in the Garden
All vegetables require something different from the sun, and others need more shade to thrive.
It’s up to you to determine how much natural sunlight your vegetable garden will get, the areas where it will receive more shade, and how many hours a day you can expect both to have.
With a rough idea of what your garden has to offer, you can then choose plants that best suit these conditions.
For a sunny area that gets at least six hours of direct sun a day, you’ll want to plant anything that has fruits that you can eat, including cucumbers and tomatoes.
If there’s more shade, place the plants where leaves and roots are eaten there, as they’ll do better in these conditions.
The Right Drainage for Vegetables
Just like a plant in a pot, the vegetables in their garden bed will require some sort of drainage to protect them from rotting, waterlogging, and developing other conditions.
Although most plants have different needs for how much drainage and what type is required, you can follow a few general rules to get it right for your vegetables.
The height of the garden bed is the first thing to look at, so if it comes up to underneath your knee, you might not need any additional draining.
This is because many vegetables have a shorter root system so will only need a foot of soil for adequate space. Some varieties have longer roots that span a few feet down, so if you have these, you’ll want to make a higher bed.
To determine how much drainage there should be underneath the soil, you can opt for around 50% of it.
The taller garden beds that need drainage can have a bottom layer made of things like crushed granite or river sand, but you should avoid materials like gravel and pebbles as these don’t work as well with a garden bed setup.
Climbing Vegetables and How to Support Them
Many plants love to climb and if the savvy gardener knows how to support this type of growth, they’ll be rewarded with greater rewards.
Some plants do better when lifted off the ground as it gives them more space and better access to the sun, making it imperative to support them.
The gardener also benefits with less weeding and easier access when it’s time to pick the produce, so everybody wins.
There are loads of options available for how to train a climbing vegetable plant to go upwards and each of these structures should be decided on depending on the plants you’re growing.
Popular choices include arches, pergolas, pegs, arbors, poles, stakes, and homemade items that facilitate this upwards growth.
As they grow, they’ll cover more and more of the structure which will add a unique touch to the garden, and soon these will become the centerpiece that the eye focuses on when looking at your vegetable patch.
Vegetables that like to climb include varieties of climbing peas and climbing beans, gourds, pumpkins, vine tomatoes, squashes, cucumbers, and melons.
With any of these in your garden, you’ll benefit from a vertical structure to support their upward growth, and more than one in most cases.
The Layout of Your Garden
With all of the moving parts considered, you can now figure out a way to put them together so that everything works.
The layout of the vegetable garden will be key to success but it means utilizing the best parts of the sun and shade, adequate drainage, and grouping plants together that will benefit each other.
For the best results, consider planting vegetables in scattered groups rather than the typical look of rows of vegetables.
With these groups, you’ll be creating isolated areas that confuse pests and deter them. Even if they do attack a certain group of vegetables, there’s a good chance the others will be left unscathed, and you can take action to prevent it from happening in the future.
The typical garden patch layout is a square and a good size to start with is around 10 by 10 feet which should give ample space for a few vegetable varieties.
However, there are no hard and fast rules about the size or even the shape of a garden, provided you’ve catered to all of the other elements that need to be considered.
Creating a Garden Path
Those lucky enough to have a larger vegetable garden will find a good addition to a garden path.
A garden path will allow you easy access to tend to your vegetables and collect the harvest while ensuring no damage is done to the plants that are growing.
When done correctly, a path can also assist with drainage, help to maximize the space of your garden bed, and reduce the amount of weeding.
The beauty of creating a garden path is that it can be made with virtually any material, can be as long and wide as you want, and can go anywhere you desire.
You can use old scraps of cardboard, dig out a hole and fill it with concrete pavers, or use organic matting to create the path, so the world is your oyster, but just be sure to consider it when planning your vegetable garden design.
Planned Success for Your Veggie Garden
If you love to garden and are ready to dive into growing a vegetable patch, you’ll find a lot of planning will lead to the best results.
Any successful gardener understands there’s some forward-thinking at times, and this couldn’t be truer than when it comes to a vegetable patch and all of the elements you’ll have to consider.
A good vegetable patch needs to have all aspects covered including where it will get light and shade, what vegetables will support or hinder each other, and how you’ll drain the soil.
You can start with just a basic patch and grow as your love for vegetable gardening does, but you’ll always need a plan.
Not only do vegetables have their own unique requirements but they are highly sensitive to the seasons as well.
With the right vegetable garden design, you’ll guarantee the most delicious and bountiful produce all year round regardless of the weather, thanks to a little bit of planning at the beginning.
Planning a vegetable garden precisely might seem like a tedious task but it’s the only way to guarantee results in this unique gardening setup.
If you still have questions about growing vegetables and don’t know where to start, check out these FAQs to find out more.
If your vegetable garden is planned for a shady area, you’ll be happy to know some vegetables grow best in light to partial shade.
For these areas, choose plants like broccoli, carrots, beets, cauliflower, and asparagus, but be careful to keep an eye on the temperature difference in the shade.
There are no set size requirements for a vegetable garden and you can go as big or small as you choose, and work with whatever your space allows.
However, a good starter’s veggie patch should measure around 10 x 10 feet which gives enough room for a variety of plants that won’t crowd each other, even as they mature.
A vegetable garden performs best in a raised bed, and you can make these easily yourself using some of the recommended materials.
For a vegetable garden specifically, you should create the raised bed with concrete blocks, corrugated iron, treated wood, and untreated wood, depending on what you have available.