Community Education on Environment and Development

Choosing a Garden Site & Deciding When to Start Your Garden

Picking out a place for a garden is easy if you think about four important things:
sunlight, soil, water and access.


Most vegetable crops need at least five to six hours of direct sunlight a day (assuming a cloudless day). Areas receiving less sunlight than this should be considered for a composting site or work area. If your garden site is too shady, think about whether you can remove the shading fence, shrub or tree. Maybe just pruning a few branches will help. (Remember to ask your landlord or neighbor before cutting a tree on someone else's property.) Light can be improved a lot by painting nearby walls or fences white.


Of all the resources in the garden, soil is the easiest to improve. You can always make the soil and its drainage better by adding organic matter (decomposed leaves or sawdust, compost, aged manure). If you can dig a shovel's depth down (about 12 inches) into your soil without breaking your back or the shovel, or reaching puddled water, then you can probably grow vegetables in it with minor additions. If the ground is constantly wet or it is too rocky for a shovel to penetrate, you will probably need to add a substantial amount of organic matter or build raised beds.


Although you don't want too much water in your soil, you do need to think about getting some water when you need It. Is there a water spigot handy in your garden? How much hose do you need to reach the whole garden? If the spigot is in an inconvenient place, you may want to extend the line with PVC pipe and put a spigot nearer the garden site.


Don't forget that you have to get things in and out of the garden -often big, heavy things like wheelbarrows of compost. Identify the shortest route between your compost area and a loading area in the street or driveway. Keep this path open when you lay out planting areas. You may have to cut a path through shrubs or put a gate in a fence, but it is worth the effort to shorten hauling distances.

Another thing to consider is how accessible your garden is to pests, both the animal kind and the human kind. Low barriers will keep dogs out, but humans are more persistent. If you have trouble, enlist neighbors to help in your garden for a share of the produce. (Having someone there a lot keeps out vandals.)

Copyright: WSU Coop Extension

Home :: About Us :: North Fraser FreeNet :: Campaign for Pesticide Reduction