Planting a garden of any size or type is likely to occur with more success and pleasure if a garden plan is made first. A garden plan allows gardeners some trial and error on paper rather than more costly revisions with plants themselves. A garden plan also gives gardeners an opportunity to experiment with various layouts and color schemes before making a true commitment.
Assess the growing area. Make a thorough evaluation of the area in which you intend to plant. Note the soil's condition, and feel the texture to determine whether it is sandy, loam or claylike. (Loam soil is crumbly and dark and provides the optimal growing conditions for a garden. Clay soil is almost rocklike and often requires amending to add nutrients. Sandy soil is a mixture of sand and loam soil and is good for a garden.)
Perform a soil test to determine whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. Purchase a soil testing kit at garden center and mail off or take a sample of your soil to your local county extension office.
Assess your current landscape structure. Count any trees that and note their location. Observe your outdoor space during different times of the day to study where shady, full-sun or partial-sun locations can be found.
Find appropriate plants. Choose plants that will grow well based on the growing conditions present in your yard. Study which plants typically grow well in your area to help further narrow the selections. Visit your local nursery or garden center or take a stroll through your neighborhood to see what's commonly grown in your area and to see what you find appealing.
Make a drawing. Use a sheet of graph paper to make an illustration of the information gathered and to plot what you want to grow. First, draw the areas where it is shady, sunny or partially sunny. Fill in the areas where you want to plant perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees or even vegetables. Alter the drawing until you are satisfied with the preliminary plan.
Make mini-gardening projects from your plan. Note that a garden has four main areas: a garden floor, which tends to be covered by a lawn; a garden ceiling, which includes hanging plants and vines; and the garden walls, which include a garden's boundaries or fences; and the furniture. Prioritize your projects according to the areas you want to change immediately.