How to Start a Garden Plot How to Start a Garden Plot

What You'll Need
Shovel, spade
Newspaper (optional)
Compost, fertilizer
Garden soil testing kit

A garden plot is the beginning of many good things. Gardens are good for us. Offering beauty, healthy eats, relaxation and fun in the sun, gardens give back rewards to those who labor. However, planting without taking the time to prepare a plot and the soil can have disappointing results. By following these steps, your plot will be a nourishing home for your plants, vegetables, trees and flowers. 


  • Check the USDA hardiness zone map to see what plants grow best in your area.
  • Start a compost pile.
  • Plant native plants at first since they will be better suited to your natural soil.

Step 1- Choose Where and What to Plant

Choosing where to place your garden and what you will grow is an inter-dependent process. Your choice of plants should effect where you place your garden. For example, most vegetables require full sun, so if growing vegetables, choose land that gets around 8 hours of sunlight a day. On the other hand, if you don't have much land to work with, you may choose the plants you grow based on the amount of sun or shade your garden plot gets.  Another point about sun and shade to consider is whether your plot will receive most of its sun from the east or the west. For example, if your plot is on the east side of a building or large trees, the cool morning sun will shine on your garden. In the afternoon, your garden will be shaded from the hot afternoon sun. 

Step 2- Remove Grass and Weeds

Time to get to work! Grab your spade and outline the perimeter of your garden, pressing into the soil. Then cut out a grid pattern. Flip the squares over, the roots pointing towards to the sky. Leave for 2 weeks until dead then rototill over the dead grass and weeds. If you don't want to wait that long, remove the squares shaking all the good soil over your garden spot. Transfer the squares to a compost pile. Another option is to place 3 to 4 layers of newspaper or plastic over the grass and weeds to block and cover with dirt. The lack of sun will kill the weeds and grass.

Step 3- Add Compost and Till

Compost is beneficial for any type of soil or plant, and usually more is better (not true with non-organic fertilizer). Add a few inches of compost and work into the soil with a rototiller. After tilling one direction, till across. Compost can be bought as well as created at home. A rototiller can be rented from a hardware store if you don't want to purchase one.

Step 4- Test the Soil and Add Fertilizer and Nutrients

For best results, your soil should be a mixture of silt, sand, clay and organic matter. Test your soil to determine what you need to add. A soil test will also tell you the ph level, the amount of acid in your soil. Buy your own kit or take a sample of soil to the local gardening shop to have it analyzed professionally. If your soil is too acidic, add ground limestone. For a high alkaline content, add sulfur. Respond thoroughly to the results of your soil test so that the time you spend planting won't be wasted.

Finally, you are ready to plant your garden. Happy gardening!

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