How to Plant a New Garden


If you are thinking about starting a new garden, one of the most important aspects is planning. The location of your garden is very important to its success. Whether your garden site has sun or shade will determine on what you can grow. If you want to grow vegetables, you will need a sunny location. However, if you are growing flowers, by selecting shade-tolerant varieties can help you grow a garden in a shady part of your yard. Once you have decided on what you want to grow, preparing the ground and planting is not difficult.

Step 1

Sketch the area you are thinking about turning in to a garden on graph paper. Use a pencil to make changing dimensions and planting areas easier.

Step 2

Design your garden with taller-growing plants, like corn, hollyhocks or sunflowers on the north side of the garden to avoid shading shorter plants. Design your garden with how it will look in mind, advises the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Place shorter plants in front followed by with medium-height, then taller plants so they can all be seen.

Step 3

Prepare the soil in your garden. A tiller can make this process faster and easier. However, if you do not have a tiller, remove any sod and dig down with a shovel 12 to 18 inches and turn the soil in your garden area, according to The Farm, a Tennessee cooperative.

Step 4

Break up clumps in your garden larger than a pea with a hoe and rake.

Step 5

Add a couple of inches of compost to your soil and mix the soil well using a hoe or rake.

Step 6

Level your soil with a garden rake.

Step 7

Make garden rows if you are using traditional gardening techniques. Make the planting rows by mounding the soil 3 to 6 inches high. These mounds will allow excess water to drain away from your plant stems.

Step 8

Plant seeds rows, sowing each no more than three or four times its depth, according to the University of Iowa Extension. If planted too deeply, a seed may germinate, but die before it reaches the surface. If not sown deeply enough, it may be washed away.

Step 9

Plant nursery plants by removing them from their plastic nursery pots and digging a hole the size of the root ball. If your plants are in peat pots, you do not need to remove the pot, but remove any of the peat material that extends above the rootball as it may act as a wick, drawing moisture away from the transplant, warns the University of Iowa Extension. According to the University of Illinois Extension, wait for an overcast day or evening to before setting your transplants in the ground. Set them in the hole, disturbing the roots as little as possible and tamp in soil around the plants. Water immediately.

Step 10

Mulch your garden. For nursery plants, add a couple inches of mulch to help keep the soil moist and reduce problems with weeds. For direct-seeded areas, wait until your plants have grown to several inches before mulching. Some seeds may not grow properly under mulch.

Step 11

Water your newly planted garden. Soaker hoses help to prevent fungal problems on plant leaves and help reduce the risk of seeds being accidentally washed away.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Tiller (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Young plants
  • Mulch
  • Soaker hose


  • University of New Hampshire Extension: Make a New Garden Without a Rototiller
  • University of Illinois Extension: A Taste of Gardening
  • The Farm: How to Plant a Garden
  • Iowa State University: Planting a Home Vegetable Garden
Keywords: garden planning, garden planting, new gardens

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.