How to Choose a Site for Your Garden

Choosing a site for your garden is an important factor in how well it does and the yield you get. If you have an irrigation system at home, that can give you more flexibility as far as where you put your garden, but even still, there are certain things you have to keep in mind to choose an optimal site. 



1. Soil Content

First, when you’re thinking about a location for a garden, you need to know what type of soil there is. Is it clay sand, or is it sandy or stony?

You should take soil samples from the places where you might plant, and you can then learn more about it. 

When your soil test, you can also find out the acidity or pH level of the soil. A lot of plants can live in an area with soil that’s slightly acidic—usually around 6.5 to 5.5. Certain types of plants do require nutrients that they can only get through their root system based on certain pH levels, though. 

If you want to get soil testing done, you can get in touch with agricultural testing labs in your area, or if you have a university nearby, they might have an agricultural extension service. 

When you get your soil tested, you can learn everything about it, including its nutrient health. 

The ideal spot for a garden will have what’s called loamy soil. Loamy soil usually contains fairly equal parts of silt and sand, and there’s less clay. 

Good soil for gardening should also drain well. 

Exposure to Sun

Vegetables and flowers need sufficient sun exposure to thrive. Most vegetables need full sun, which is at least six hours of sun a day, unobstructed. More than this, around eight hours, is better. 

Certain vegetables like spinach and broccoli can take less sun, but overall, the more sun your garden gets, the better. 

Accessible Water

As mentioned above, if you have irrigation, this isn’t as much of a priority, but otherwise, you need to be able to get water to your garden site pretty easily. You don’t want to have to carry buckets of water to your plants when it’s already hot outside. If you have a source nearby, it’s easier, and you’ll be less likely to skip doing it. 

Wind Protection

Choose a spot for your garden that’s well-protected from heavy potential winds. Winds can be especially detrimental for plants that grow upright and produce a lot of fruit, like peppers and peas. Any other climbing vegetables aren’t going to be able to take a lot of wind. 

Along with toppling tall plants, wind dries out soil and plants, and it causes plants to reduce their growth. 

A cold, dry wind is the worst for your garden. This can sap moisture from the plants and cause windburn. 

Level Ground

You want your garden to be on level ground ideally, but if not, just a gentle slope. You don’t want low spots that are continuously wet in spring, nor do you want your garden at the base of a slope because the air there can create a pocket of frost. 

Cooler air will move downward while warm air rises. Low spots are cooler as a result. 

Other Factors

Yards have what are called microclimates. These are areas where either structures or natural factors create different weather conditions. 

Something like a wall, fence, house, or shed is going to lower temperatures on certain sides at different points throughout the day. The cooler sides will be the ones that face the east, north, and west. The warmer side will be the south side. 

When it’s warm, the ground that’s in a shady area will keep moisture longer, but if there’s a vertical object, its downward side will limit the rain’s ability to access the ground, so it will be drier. 

When you’re deciding on a place to put a garden, you’re going to have to think about how much work you’ll have to put in based on the characteristics of the site. For example, you’re going to have to dig up the grass and topsoil. Will you also have to dig up roots or rocks? Will you have to make changes to the soil if it’s too sandy or has too much clay? What about having to build a fence to keep animals out?

Finally, you’ll also consider how many sizes you have available. If you want to grow vining plants like cucumbers or sweet potatoes, you need a big area. Things like carrots, onions, and beets can be grown in a small area by contrast. You’ll need to research and figure out, based on what you hope to plant, exactly what it’s going to need in terms of a garden site.