How to Plan a Garden Bed


Planning a garden bed begins with a piece of graph paper. Planning a garden bed involves deciding on a design that complements the existing landscape. Garden planning also should incorporate soil amendments to establish the best possible base for your future plantings. High-quality soil will protect your landscape investment. Learning how to plan a garden bed involves investigating the type of soil in your yard, evaluating sunlight, maintenance and choices of individual plants. The completed plan can be used as a template when constructing the new garden bed as well as a tool to estimate the total cost of materials and plants.

Step 1

Choose a location on your property that fits the purpose for your vision of a garden. Some types of gardens include stand-alone, border or complementary varieties that enhance permanent landscape features in your home.

Step 2

Take a length of garden hose outdoors to the proposed site. Lay the hose out in the general shape of the planned garden. This step will allow you to adjust the dimensions and shape to provide a more realistic idea of how the garden will look.

Step 3

Finalize your outline and measure the length and width of the proposed plot. Decide on a scale for your drawing (one box on the graph paper equals 1 foot on land) and add this to your drawing.

Step 4

Multiply the length times the width to determine the square footage of the garden bed. This figure becomes important when determining the amount of peat moss, compost and mulch required to prepare the garden soil for planting.

Step 5

Evaluate the sunlight conditions in the garden bed. Full sun receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day. Partial sun receives two to four hours and full shade receives no direct sunlight. Observe the garden bed for a few days and also take into account the amount of sunlight during different seasons of the year.

Step 6

Visit the garden center with this information and decide which plants best suit the light availability and maintenance requirements. Each plant pot has a tag with information about soil needs, light requirements and dimensions of the mature plant. Keep track of this information for plants that you'd like to have in your garden.

Step 7

Add your choices to the scaled diagram, allowing plenty of room for mature sizes of plants. Use basic garden design principles by choosing a focal point and various height plants to create depth to the garden. Choose a color scheme and consider adding plants with interesting foliage for contrast. Combined plants look best in odd-numbered groupings.

Things You'll Need

  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Measuring tape
  • Garden hose


  • University of Wisconsin
  • Cass County Extension Service
Keywords: plan a garden, garden design, garden bed plan

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.