Design Your Garden

Design Your Garden

Two years ago, I did a vertical only garden in pots since we didn’t really have much of a backyard. Last year, I created raised garden beds and used the square foot gardening method. I learned a lot last year and am ready to expand my garden this year! You can use this simple method to design your garden too. It’s easy!


This year, I am planning on raised garden beds and using the square foot gardening method. You can use this method to design your garden, too. It's easy!

Design Your Garden

I started by reading Square Foot Garden by Mel Bartholomew. The idea behind square foot gardening is that you can section off a bed a foot at a time and then depending on the size of the plant, you plant 1, 4, 9, 16 plants. Or in some cases, you use 2 or 4 squares for 1 plant.

This year, I am planning on raised garden beds and using the square foot gardening method. You can use this method to design your garden, too.


From there, I did a TON of research on the web about companion planting. Understanding the ways in which companion planting can help improve your garden is amazing. There are a number of possible benefits, the major reasons include:

Some plants can improve the flavor of other plants simply by being in close proximity with one another. Pest control is a major benefit. Some plants discourage certain pests and guard plants that are normally attractive to these pests; or certain plants can attract beneficial insects that keep predators down. Some plants can attract pollinators well, and other plants close by benefit from these good pests.

I used herbs and flowers as companion plants in all my beds last year in hopes of keeping bad pests to a minimum and good pests in abundance. And I didn’t have any bad pests at all last season!  I took notes in a gardening journal, to remember from books I read what goes well next to what (like planting the herb borage next to strawberries), and what you should not put next to what (like no beans near tomatoes).  I used Marigolds to deflect aphids – Marigolds attract hoverflies….which eat aphids!  I planted basil in almost every box.

This year, I am planning on raised garden beds and using the square foot gardening method. You can use this method to design your garden, too.


One of my biggest mistakes was wanting to plant too much.  Even though there were guidelines to how far apart you should plant some things when you design your garden, in some cases you just need more room.  When flower shopping, it’s hard to just pick one type-I picked at least 10.

Another downfall I had last year was making sure to thin out the plants as they come up.  I was so excited to see things starting to grow.  So, what do you mean I’m supposed to cut 2 of the 3 seedlings that came up?  Well, let me tell you, “they” are right. You need to let the strongest survive in order to let it flourish. By leaving 3 squash where I should have left just 1 when they came up, none of the 3 did well at all.

I would love to hear some of your tips for making a great garden!  Or tips of lessons learned to share with others to do better the next time you design your garden.  Be sure to comment below and share!

11 Responses to Design Your Garden

  1. I love container gardening! I used to do the square foot thing – I had a 4’x8′ raised bed. But we tore that out when we fenced in our yard a couple of years ago. I’m hoping to do more planting this year.

  2. I ALWAYS plant too close together. I just want so many garden goodies!!

    I have trouble with my peppers every year. They never get tall enough.
    I also love growing beans on strings vertically. Saves on space!

  3. I’m in the mode to learn more about planting flowers and landscaping right now. In fact, my last blog post was about how I tend to over think too much and that I just need to DO it. I think your info will be a good reference, However, I just may need to dig in and learn by trial and error.

  4. We have raised beds all along our porch, where we grow tomatoes in the back so I can tie them to the porch.
    I’m going to really go for the square foot gardening method myself this year, and plan out my squares so I will know what plant is coming up where.

    • Hi Kim, let me know how the square foot gardening method works for you. I’d love to see it, too. You can always share with me on my instagram @living5x5 or on here. 🙂

  5. We’ve used raised beds for years in our community garden, although we abandoned the actual “square foot” gardening method years ago. We have to use container gardening at our house, where much of our small plot of land is in shade or part sun – the sunniest part is a patio.

  6. I am an avid gardener and always ripping up sod to make more gardens. I always overplant! First thing everything looks so bare, so I add in just a bit more. Before I know it, I have a jungle! Every single year.

  7. Weeding is probably the most hated job but one of the most important– I find that if I weed the day after a rain or have watered well — the weeds will be much easier to remove. Also buy a long handled simple weeding tool that makes it easy to just pop them out root and all. Easier on your back and keeps them out longer. If every time you go out to the garden you pick a small section to clean you won’t get yourself overwhelmed later in the summer.

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