Garden Layouts
Planning Improves Harvest

Garden layouts aren't necessary to make plants grow.

However, if you want to make the best use of the solar power and space available while growing plants for food, or your viewing pleasure, taking time to plan your layout will definitely improve your harvest.

There are many ways to plan, or lay out your garden. You can find plans all drawn up for you on the Internet, as well as in books.

But, what I'd like to do here primarily, is help you understand the principles you need to consider to lay out your own gardens.

If you can't afford to use solar power any other way, this use can save you big money, and it might even save your health as well.

Plants use solar power more efficiently than any technology man has yet developed.
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As you are willing to invest the time and energy to garden effectively, you'll use solar power to grow food that will have higher nutritive value than anything available anywhere else. Not only will it save big money on your grocery bills, but it will improve, or maintain your health at the same time.

And it is hard to place a value on beauty, yet anyone who has reveled in a gorgeous flower garden knows its value as well. Of course, if you've tried to buy flowers, you know they are even more expensive than food, and those you buy, rarely last as long as those grown in your garden.

There are actually two different frameworks we should discuss when considering garden layouts. They are:

  • those planned when a house and yard are being built initially, and
  • those planned at a pre-existing house and yard.

Garden Layouts
Initial Landscaping

If you are building a house and planning the gardens and landscaping to go with it, you are starting everything from scratch. There are definitely advantages to this. The advantages are:

  • You don't have to make changes to already existing landscaping
  • You don't have to try to get rid of well established plants you may hate. For example the house I currently live in has many yucca plants in the landscaping. I don't like yucca plants, and would like to replace them, but I've not yet been able to accomplish it. They are exceedingly hardy.
  • You can choose layouts that most appeal to you.
  • You can use already prepared garden layouts without making many adaptations.
  • It is easier to plan your gardens where you want them from the beginning than to have to redo already existing landscaping.

On the other hand, there are several disadvantages as well. They are:

  • You will have to decide which garden layouts best fit your overall landscaping almost immediately.
  • You will need to put a lot more work into establishing all the gardens simultaneously, than you would have to put into modifying them, one at a time to suit your tastes, after they were already established.
  • The expense of initial landscaping is far higher than that of adding one garden to an overall established landscape.
  • If you don't want to do the planning and work necessary to layout your gardens, your lack of landscaping may actually detract from the value of your property.
  • If you don't do anything, plants will grow, but they will probably be a detriment to you, and your family, instead of an asset, and a source of beauty and relaxation.

I've never had the opportunity to do the initial landscaping and garden layouts for a home. I know it would be a lot of work, but I suspect it would be a lot of fun as well.

Were I to ever undertake such a project, I think it would be wise to consult a professional landscaper before I implemented my layouts, to be sure I wasn't overlooking something of foundational importance.

Garden Layouts
Already Established Landscaping

I've always been in the position of adding gardens to already existing landscaping. If you find yourself in a similar position, there are several things to consider initially:

  • What type of garden do you want to add? I know of several different types of gardens that can advantageously be added to existing landscaping. They are:
    1. flower gardens
    2. vegetable gardens
    3. herb gardens
    4. shade gardens
    5. rock gardens
    6. water gardens
Although some layouts can be used interchangeably between different types of gardens, to get the best results for your garden, you need to decide to begin with, which type of garden you'd like to have.

  • Do you want a segregated or an integrated garden?

    You may be thinking "What?"

    In other words, do you plan to plant different types of plants separately, or would you like to mix many types of plants together as you plant?

    The gardens I listed above are all types of segregated gardens, but if you have a section of your shade garden you make into a rock garden, now the garden is an integrated shade/rock garden.

    In the same way if you plant your herbs and vegetables together, you have an integrated vegetable/herb garden.

    Where I currently live I have one garden that has flowers, vegetables, and herbs together. It has worked well for me, although I wouldn't have thought of the combinations on my own.

    Frequently these combinations can make it less likely you'll have problems with insects and diseases, if you make the right plant combinations in your garden layout.

    If you segregate your garden, you'll probably want to add the garden layout to the already existing landscaping.

    But if you use integrated gardening, you may be able to place your plants in between already existing landscaping features.

    However, you'll want to be sure you plan wisely when using integrated gardening methods. They will either help or hurt you.

    I found this out the hard way when I planted glads around my rose bushes, only to discover that the glads caused the rose bushes to get black spot disease because they didn't allow enough air circulation.

    It took me three years to get all the glads out! And my roses still have problems with black spot.

  • Which types of plantings will you use?

    There are four basic types of plantings you can use and combine in your garden layouts. You will need to consider which you want to use where, as you plan your garden layouts. We'll consider them in more detail below, but they are:

    1. traditional rows
    2. raised beds
    3. vertical gardens
    4. container gardens
  • Garden Layouts
    One Type, or Combinations

    If you use traditional rows for planting you have the advantage of being able to plow and plant quickly without additional preparation. If you have fairly fertile soil, and plenty of room, this type of garden may work well for you.

    A second type of garden is the raised bed. If you aren't sure about the fertility of your soil, or its drainage, this type of garden might work best for you.

    A third type of garden is a vertical garden. It is best used for flowers, or vegetables that vine, or can be attached to supports to grow vertically. A vertical garden can easily be combined with either of the first two types of gardens to economize space and keep the vegetables more healthy as well.

    The final major type of garden is the container garden. It is especially well suited to small spaces such as a patio, apartment, or deck, but it has other advantages as well.

    Garden Layouts
    Practical Applications

    You can find plenty of layouts on the web, but the best garden layout is personalized, so it will enable you to improve the beauty of your property, while best providing nutritious fruits and vegetables for your family.

    Which layout will best accomplish that goal for you will depend on a variety of circumstances so wide, that only you can make the right decisions about it.

    As you consider the information we've discussed here, you can decide what will be best for you. As you make your decisions, never forget your garden's power source, solar power.

    In making your layout be sure to put vertical crops, that is the plants that grow tallest, on the north side of vegetable and flower beds, unless the plants behind them will benefit from their shade.

    Also beware of planting either flower or vegetable gardens in the shade of trees. Most won't produce well in the shade. Only shade gardens, and rock gardens planted with shade loving plants will do well in the shade. So be sure you choose the right types of plants for your situation.

    Finally, don't be afraid to experiment. If a plant doesn't do well in your garden one year, try another variety the following year until you find one that works well.

    So make your garden layouts in pencil, not ink, then you can change them as you find out what will work best for your individual situation.

    As you follow these suggestions you'll find your garden layouts, as well as the gardens developed from them, will grow more successful each year.

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