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The Best Way to Mark Out a Planting Area

A well-designed garden not only looks good, it provides adequate access to the gardener for plant care, weeding and harvesting. For vegetable gardens, this often means square or rectangular planting areas that allow for tilling the soil between rows or walkways for the gardener. Laying out the area requires measuring and marking the dimensions before establishing the garden plot.

Determine the desired size of the garden area. Some people prefer to establish an exact size, such as 10 feet by 15 feet, and find the best location for the garden plot. Others prefer to find the location and mark out an area of level soil within that location. Either way is fine.

Mark the four corners of the area by inserting a wooden or metal stake. The height of the stake is not important as long as it is visible. A height of 2 to 3 feet might be the easiest to work with, but any size will do.

Attach one end of garden twine or rope to a corner post and run it horizontally to the opposite corner to mark one side of the garden border. Loop the twine around the second post. Turn right and run the line to the next stake. Repeat until the border of the garden is complete and tie off the twine.

Observe the area from the distance to determine whether the garden area is in the appropriate shape. Corners should form right angles and the sides should run parallel to each other. Adjust the stakes (and twine) to correct any areas that are out of alignment.

Use the lines as a guide for tilling and preparing the soil for gardening. As rule, till soil to a depth 8 to 10 inches. Remove any rocks or other debris and rake smooth with a garden rake.

Mark rows in the same manner as you marked the area, by measuring the desired distance between rows (beginning at the corner stakes) along the front and back border of the garden. Generally, 24 to 36 inches is sufficient for large garden vegetables. Insert a marker in the soil and run strings from side to side of the garden plot.


Layout garden plots so they run parallel to major features of the landscape or buildings. Align rows north to south for maximum exposure to sun in northern climates. Run rows east to west to avoid shading smaller plants from large plants like corn.

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