5 Tips for Planning Your Vegetable Garden

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

A well-planned vegetable garden

There’s so much to consider when planning a vegetable garden, from what to grow and where, to the finer details that will make gardening easier and more enjoyable. Follow our five guidelines and you'll be well on your way to vegetable gardening success!

1. Consider Where Shade Falls

Where sun and shade fall is an essential consideration because it will determine how quickly and healthily your crops will grow. Almost all vegetables grow best in full sun in all but the hottest regions, but plan to reserve the sunniest spots for warmth-loving crops like tomatoes and peppers.

Spend some time in your garden and make a note of where the sunshine falls at different times of the day, and consider how this will change over the course of the year. Remember, shade cast by deciduous trees in summer won’t be there after they have shed their leaves in autumn, which is good news for winter crops like kale, spring cabbage and Asian greens.

Work out where shade will fall and plan your plantings accordingly

Consider the position of the midday sun and plan beds so that taller crops aren’t shading shorter ones. Or grow plants that can tolerate shade such as salads and leafy greens behind your lankier crops.

2. Plan Your Garden Workspace

A busy kitchen garden requires a nerve centre – a place for all the propagation, potting on, and general pottering about. So be sure to include a bench space (an old desk or similar will do) to work on your seedlings and plants. It will need to be undercover, or capable of being covered, and you’ll need space close by to put all those plants. If you haven’t got the space or budget for a full-sized greenhouse, buy or make a cold frame.

Make space for somewhere to sow, pot up and more

3. Choose Happy Companions

Companion planting, when plants are grown next to each other for the benefit of one or both, is a very sensible practice, yet one that’s often overlooked. By growing, for example, French marigolds among your tomatoes, you can minimise the risk of aphids, while growing nasturtiums close to brassicas like cabbage may help to lure caterpillars away from your crop.

Our Garden Planner can help you choose perfect companion plants for your vegetables by selecting a crop or crops, then clicking on the Companion Planting button to reveal suitable companions.

Choose good companions with care to benefit your crops

4. Plan Your Watering and Water Storage

Plants need water, and even in relatively moist, temperate climates you’ll still need to irrigate from time to time. Make sure your new vegetable garden has some means for easy watering close to hand, such an outdoor faucet.

Mains water is precious, so supplement it where you can with stored rainwater, using water barrels to collect water off house, greenhouse and shed roofs. Water barrels take up very little space but will provide a fantastic source of natural rainwater much preferred by plants – and if you’re on a water meter it’ll save you money too!

Easy access to a water source is essential

5. Make Easy Access Garden Pathways

Finally, make sure you can easily get around your vegetable garden. Fail to include garden pathways and you’ll find it harder to tend your crops without standing on and compacting the soil. You should be able to comfortably work on beds from your paths, and ideally have enough room for a wheelbarrow to pass through. Aim for a width of at least 18 inches (45cm), but wider is better where possible.

Paths can be paved or gravelled, but they don’t have to be. You can lay woodchip, sawdust, or some other biodegradable material that will need to be topped up once or twice a year; or just leave paths between beds as grass that is mowed regularly.

Make sure pathways enable you to easily reach all areas of your vegetable garden

These simple considerations are easy to forget, but will make your gardening so much easier. I’m sure you’ve got some really exciting plans of your own this growing season, and we’d love to hear about it, so do drop us a comment below to tell us what you’re up to!

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Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

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If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

Show Comments


"That was very helpful thank you."
Audrey GreganQVC on Thursday 26 March 2020
"Very helpful thankyou "
Jackie on Thursday 9 April 2020
"My garden this year is beautiful growing well except for corn and peppers although peppers have flowered they are stumped in growth and as well as corn its stumped and has tassels already .I found this very good the tips I will do next season .I'm always up for a challenge and change .can I add other components besides manure, peatmoss,sand ,soil and ,straw for extra benifits ?"
Rose Cote on Monday 20 July 2020
"Hi Rose. The absolutely best soil amendment in almost every instance is garden-made compost. It has a good level of nutrients and will help build good soil health to better support crops. You can never have too much compost!"
Ben Vanheems on Wednesday 22 July 2020
"Hello, I am planning a potager and looking at vegetables and companion planting. Last year my brassicas were attacked by cabbage white butterflies even under netting. How do the gardeners keep their brassicas looking perfect in the photographs? They show many-coloured cabbages and kale all looking neat and tidy with no netting in sight. Thank you."
Sarah on Monday 25 January 2021
"It's almost impossible Sarah. Mine rarely look like that. You almost always have to net brassicas to prevent them being pitted and torn by cabbage white butterflies. I think the photo at the top was taken in very early summer, before their main arrival."
Ben Vanheems on Tuesday 26 January 2021

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