Small Garden Design – How to Get Started

So, you have decided to start a small garden, but where should you start? The first step in any small garden design project is planning the type of garden you want to grow.

Do you want a small garden with lots of color? Will you want flowers that you can cut and bring indoors? If so, then you will want to think about flower garden design. Do you want to combine an interest in cooking with a small vegetable garden design or an herb garden design? Maybe you want to consider a combination garden.

Once you have a starting point on the type of garden you want, before you start your small garden design, you need to consider a few things…

What is your planting zone?

How many hours of sun does your garden area get during the day?

Does the amount of sun change during the day or the seasons?

If your garden is in a small portion of a yard, what else is already growing in that area?

Let’s start with your planting zone. What is a planting zone? In North America, the USDA has created a Hardiness Zone Map that divides North America into 11 different planting zones. A low and high range of temperatures defines each zone. While there are limitations to using a zone map, it will give you some idea of whether a plant will survive in your climate.

Some sources for finding planting zone information are on the back of seed packets, in the plant description, and on the internet. This information will not only help you determine if a plant can survive in your climate range, but how early you can plant a particular plant in your location. While zone maps are not perfect, they can provide a useful start to determining the plants to use in your small garden design.

One of most important factors in determining the types of plants you can use as you develop your small garden design will be the amount of sun you get in the area you want to plant. Whether it is a container garden for your patio, deck, balcony, or rooftop or a small area in your yard where you are going to plant, you need to spend some time evaluating the amount of sun you get in that area. Do you get full sun for 6 to 8 hours a day? Is the area in the sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon or shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon?

The amount of sun you receive in your planting area will determine whether you can plant sun-loving plants, shade plants, or plants that can take part sun/part shade. Armed with the information about your planting zone and the amount of sunlight in your area, the next step will be to start determining the types of plants you want in your small garden design. Now the fun starts…