Before you plant, it’s important to go through some form of vegetable garden design process.

This video will show you how.

This organic garden design step is often an afterthought, which is why so many gardens fail to meet the goals of their owners.

The process begins with writing down your goals, and then proceeds through a bunch of measurements and drawings to arrive at your vegetable garden design layout.

I don’t have time for that kind of detail today, but I at least need to decide the purpose of the garden and add a quick sketch onto my landscape plan.

You should think about how the garden should look and feel, how the space will be used, and how you can create an ecosystem right in your own backyard. For this organic garden, I want to:

  • Grow healthy food, especially herbs and greens
  • Control pests and weeds organically,
  • Create an inspirational haven, and
  • Improve the health of the planet while I’m at it.

In the Academy, you get a lot of help with how to choose your goals. You’ll look at aesthetic considerations, how to design a vegetable garden so it will be best used by everyone who lives there, and how to develop a thriving ecosystem.

And then you learn how to draw your vegetable garden designs, starting from a basic site plan right through several stages until you get to a final vegetable garden layout. Totally cool.

Today I just do some quick measurements and draw out the basics. Doing this helps you figure out a budget, how many plants to get, how to go about preparing the bed and so on.

Graph paper is really handy for this. Map out you existing yard, gardens, hardscaping and trees. Do some measuring to make sure it's all to scale. Then make a few photocopies to play with.

It's also important to learn a bit about your soil before making final plant choices, which is coming up in the next lesson.

Obviously this is just a quick introduction, but an important one. Do you have any questions about the vegetable garden design process? Let me know below.

Vegetable Garden Design Video Transcript

I'm so glad you're gonna join me on this. We have a beautiful afternoon here.

And what I'm going to do is basically give myself this afternoon and into this evening to put onto video the basic steps I follow when putting in a new organic garden.

And one of the first steps is obviously - and it's one that's often skipped when people are doing it on their own - is to do a bit of a vegetable garden design. And before you can even do that, a step that's very often skipped is setting out your goals for your garden.

So behind me here I have this what is primarily a vegetable and herb garden that I've put in this year. And that's kind of the basis for the Smiling Gardener Academy that you may have heard me talk about this year.

So my goals for this have been to basically make a food garden, especially a lot of herbs and greens. I really like to have a lot of salads in the summer and a lot of medicinal herbs.

So my main goal was food. I also wanted to make sure I'm controlling pests organically, and controlling weeds, and I don't want to have to do a lot of weeding.

I want to have a place that's really inspirational to me, just like a haven where I can go and relax. It's not gonna be a whole lot of work - maybe some work up front, but in the long run I wanted to enjoy it.

A big goal for me is thinking about the environment, trying to improve this little ecosystem I have here, capturing rainwater and all of that good stuff.

So in the Smiling Gardener Academy (as I'm filming this series of videos here, I'm getting ready to release the Academy, to put it out there). As I learn a little bit more about exactly how it's gonna work, I'll tell you more about it.

But certainly I go big time into setting goals in the Academy, which a lot of people want to skip, but if you just take an hour to set your goals, it's so worthwhile. It really helps the backyard vegetable garden design process.

And your goals may be totally different than mine, which is fine. So we go into that. Now what I have here is, once you have your goals, you go through a series of steps to design a vegetable garden.

It can be as simple or as detailed as you want. I have something here, and this is nothing beautiful at all, and it doesn't have to be beautiful because it's just for me, but this is just kind of what I came up with. This is what I did this year.

This garden here is mostly food here. And what I'm gonna show you today is just that little bump at the top where I'm gonna extend my herb garden out a little bit.

It's not big, but it's perfect for showing you a little addition on there.

It'll get some herbs in there that I don't have yet, 'cause there are a few that I want. So even if you're just doing a simple vegetable garden layout you wanna go out and do some measuring.

For example, when I started measuring this, I had this existing tree right here, and I wanted to know exactly where that was.

So I would measure it form the house and measure it from over here and do a little bit of triangulation on graph paper, as you can see, to really figure out the correct dimensions of everything here.

It really helps with the vegetable garden design process. You can see more detail there, some of the things I planted.

Obviously in the Academy we get way more into how to do this, but I just wanted to, the main thing I wanted to share with you today is, think about what your goals are gonna be.

And you can kind of put it into your aesthetic goals, like how you want the garden to look, but also how you wanna use the garden, and that might be food, but that could also be all kinds of different things.

And you wanna talk to everyone who lives in your house and see how everybody wants to use the space.

And then you get into your ecological goals, which is what can you do with capturing water, getting rid of toxins and all kinds of stuff that we go into in the Academy.

So take a little bit of time to set some goals when you're designing a vegetable garden and then do some drawings. It's great if you can do it on graph paper and just start out with your basic site and maybe even make some photocopies and start playing.

In the Academy I go through a whole bunch of stages of drawings, but here I just wanted to, just tell you that it's a really good idea to do that, and that's gonna help with budgeting and deciding how many plants to buy and where to start digging and all that kinds of stuff.

So that's one of the first steps, and then I get into looking at the soil and that's what I'm going to do in the next video.

And I kind of do those at the same time, because I need to learn about my soil before I do pretty much anything as well, so that's coming up next.