Beginning Gardening Series #1: Best Location for a Vegetable Garden

I often think about what advice I’d have for a friend who wanted to plant their first vegetable garden. In particular, what advice would I have if my friend was very busy, didn’t have a lot of cash to invest in a garden, had a relatively small yard but still wanted to produce plenty of fresh produce for their family. This question will be the focus of my beginning gardening series. Today’s video will be the first in the series, and will focus on what factors to consider when determining the location of a vegetable garden. As a rule, it’s best to pick a location that gets 6 to 8 hours of direct sun. Fruiting crops, in particular, benefit from at least this much direct sun, while root and leafy vegetables better tolerate more partial shade. Full morning sun and some afternoon shade is a great combination for a vegetable garden. When you have free time over the course of a day, I recommend observing how the sun falls on different areas of your yard and taking notes on how much sun each area gets. If you’re planning a summer garden, make sure to do this in late spring or summer, so that your observations will be as accurate as possible. In other words, don’t rely on observations made in winter when the sun is lower in the sky and leaves are absent from deciduous trees. For example, in our yard, this is the sunniest location in winter but the most shaded in winter. If you find that you don’t have an area that gets 6 to 8 hours of sun, there still may be hope for a vegetable garden. Most of our garden gets less than 6 hours of sun per day, but we still manage to grow quite a bit of food by growing a lot of leafy greens, root crops, and small fruiting crops like cherry tomatoes and jalapeno peppers. It’s also important to consider the quality of the soil and avoid areas where the soil might be contaminated, especially if you’re planning on growing in native soil. For example, I’d be wary of sites that have a history of industrial or commercial use, or where a building was demolished, or pesticides have been used heavily. If in doubt about heavy metals, it’s best to have the soil tested for contaminants before planting a garden in native soil. It’s also a good idea to have the soil tested for nutrients, pH, and organic matter. Here in the U.S., this particular test is inexpensive and available through agricultural extension offices. A soil test can save you a lot of time, money, and guess work in the long run by identifying what the soil really needs, and doesn’t need. I suspect if we had tested our soil earlier we would have found that we already had nutrient surpluses years ago, and we could have saved ourselves a lot of time and effort. Getting back to the issue of contaminants. Growing in raised beds is the best way to ensure your soil is safe to grow in. I’ll talk more about raised beds in the next video in this series, but, in the meantime, you can follow the link here or in the description below to see how we make our raised beds. It’s also a good idea to locate the garden close to the house. Our yard is so small that this isn’t really a factor, but if you have a very large yard, having the garden closer will make it easier to tend to the garden and harvest its bounty. It’s also a good idea to have the garden close to a water source. This is certainly true when hand watering, but it’s also true when using an irrigation system, because the shorter water runs will be less vulnerable to problems. One thing I didn’t consider at all when I started gardening was slope. Our yard has a slight north facing slope, which means it slopes away from the sun. The northern slope can result in the soil warming more slowly in the spring and the garden getting off to a slower start in the spring. Because we were already at a disadvantage with limited sun, I decided to correct the slope when I built our raised beds. Though the yard has a northern slope, the beds have a slight southern slope, which helps the soil warm in the spring and get the growing season off to an earlier start. So, if you live in a colder climate with a short growing season, a south facing slope can provide a significant advantage. However, if you live in a very sunny climate, say you live in Phoenix Arizona, you probably don’t want to have your summer garden on a south facing slope. Another factor to consider is the presence of structures to protect your garden from elements and possible garden invaders. Are there trees, fences, or buildings that won’t significantly shade the garden but will provide protection from extreme winds? Is there fencing or some other barrier to keep deer out of the garden? Here in the suburbs, we don’t have to worry about deer, but the buildings, fences, and trees that surround the garden protect it from harsh winds and create a nice little microclimate that is friendlier to a vegetable garden than an unprotected area would be. Finally, before starting your garden, make sure to learn if your municipality or homeowner’s association places any limits on vegetable gardens. Bans on front yard gardens are especially common. We grow some edibles out front that pass as ornamentals, but if we wanted to grow a full-blown vegetable garden, we’d have to get a permit. Backyard gardens are less often prohibited, but some homeowner associations may forbid them, so make sure to take these factors into account early in in the planning process. I hope you enjoyed this first video in what I hope to be a series of videos for beginning gardeners. The next video will focus on how to start your first vegetable garden bed without having to spend much money or work too hard. Well, that’s all for now. Thank you very much for watching, and until next time remember you can change the world one yard at a time.

100 thoughts on “Beginning Gardening Series #1: Best Location for a Vegetable Garden

  1. So anyone can carry a gun but vegetable gardens are forbiden. I think you should stop this independence nonsense and return to British rule lol.

  2. What about someone like me ,cripple (can still get around just have to take frequent breaks) so I have all the time in the world . Have big backyard with plenty of sun. Very little money. I got about 5 yards of finished compost from leaves and all food scraps. Got a few loads of chips from tree service a few houses down from me. I under stand most people have small yards and all starting gardening should start small. I value your advice in a big yard almost too much sun northern tennessee, little money, lot of time. Been gardening few years.

  3. Thank you Patrick you continue to out do yourself.  And a special thanks to making the world a better place.

  4. Very good points Patrick. Just sent a friend over to look at your cold frames and he's subbed you. This could be just what he needs.

  5. loving your videos. i would love for you to come checkout my page and see my first veggie garden . so far I'm loving it . would love your advice or input . thanks!

  6. Great video Patrick. I have been gardening on my property for a couple of years now, and think I am still learning about the many "microclimates" of my yard. Trees, fences, and the time of year really can make a difference in what to grow and where. Looking forward to more videos. P.S it looks like you could almost get lost in your back yard, what a forest! such a nice contrast to the millions of yards 99% of people have.

  7. …"We still manage to grow quite a bit of food…" I`d say that that was the understatement of the year Patrick. The garden/jungle looks amazing.

  8. I just learned this year about how the wind can whoop on a cabbage plant. I had the same problem last year, but didn't know why until I saw another video about it happening to another gardener. Luckily, they bounced back and are doing great now, but it's definitely something I will be thinking about next year.

  9. Hey Patrick!

    Loved the video.  Can you share with me exactly what I should use to fill the raised beds to grow tomato's?  I know you mentioned in this video that you used peat and home grown compost, but is this the mixture for tomato's?  Also, can you tell me why you used cardboard first?

    Thanks so much.  Jeff.

  10. Nice idea for a series, Patrick, and good points here!  Shade can stick around a lot longer than you expect.  I have about 3 acres, with about 1 acre of very large old trees and a wooded lot next to me.  I put my garden in the same location the previous owner had one some years ago, thinking it was far enough out from the treeline, but, one end gets a lot more sun than the other.  Of course, the shady side is also the lower end, and it really stays in shade until early afternoon and is the first part to loose light. :-/

     Anyway, look forward to the series..

  11. Patrick, here's a tip I learned the hard way that you may want to consider for your upcoming video on raised beds:  I made your wire trellis and they work great.  But I had a problem with driving in the rebar because I kept hitting a rock.  So before filling up the raised bed with soil, drive a piece of rebar into the ground where you expect you may use a trellis and dig out any offending rock then, rather than later.

  12. An excellent clip packed full of useful information on garden design Patrick.  Am sure you'll help many folks out with this series.
    Have a great one.

  13. 'Great video. As you know, I'm finding myself going thru the "new garden" experience now that my current garden is coming to an end. I hate to do it, but it looks like we'll have to take down three trees. The upside is that these trees should really be removed regardless as they have very much overgrown their spots and are already half dead (bark is falling off two trees, large dead branches); If they ever fell they would damage property and/or snap power-lines. In all we have 8 giant oak/maple trees on our tiny suburban plot (roughly 170ft by 60ft, including house).

  14. Great video Patrick…I wish I would have thought about the shading of the trees before I ventured out…lol this big oak tree is putting a damper on my production rate :-/

  15. I really enjoy the music at the end of the video. May i know what is the title of the guitar song? I would like to listen to the full length of the music.

  16. Great series and ideal for me just starting out. I have one 6 ft by 4ft area which is overgrown by weeds and fairly shaded after 3pm)and I'd like to make a raised bed for next year to grow suitable veg. Will need help to find out how to suppress those weeds and encourage growth of the right things! I'm in Britain, so not always hot here.

  17. Great video Patrick, so many things to think about when planning your first garden. Your garden is looking so good, I'm also impressed with the look of your rich soil; I bet you can grow anything in that. Take care, Kim

  18. Great video Patrick.
    It is amazing that authorities in the US have restrictions on what you can grow in your own yard.I can pretty much plant any type of garden I like in my yard, front or back.
    Your garden there is looking amazing.

  19. Great tips. Likes the slope component. 

     And Oscar… He is very athletic, and a  true asset for pest control.

  20. Great video, Patrick!  This will be a wonderful series for beginning gardeners – full of very useful info.  Looking forward to seeing the next one!

  21. Great video Patrick! I'm always learning something new on your videos. Excellent information👌

  22. This series you are starting is a GREAT idea.  It will be fun to follow you and see how many 'newbies' will be commenting.  They would be very smart to take your advice.  It will save them lots of money & energy in the long run.  Take care Patrick.

  23. Thank you for this video series!  I have a small garden and I am expanding…need all the advise I can get!  And your garden is awesome, hope mine can look as tasty!

  24. I think this is going to be a great beginners series – do you mind if I post it on our FB page? – Melanie

  25. Great advice. While I was watching your video I was thinking if you have such a beautiful garden there I imagine if your were liven in the Caribbeans where it's summer all year round. Great video

  26. Patric, thanks again for all the useful information. I am a long time fan.
    I hope this is not out of the place but I'd like to share a link   ""- kind of a neighborhood watch for insect pests.

  27. Wow Patrick! Your garden is looking amazing! Where are you located…Costa Rica?(-:Thanks for the tips on the best location for a vegetable garden. I look forward to watching your new video series for beginning gardeners.

  28. Absolutely crazy that you need a permit for having a vegetable garden in the US. Didn't people protest when this first came out? How on earth is that acceptable?? You own the land, a vegetable garden is likely not causing HARM to any of the neighbours…. It should be your right to grow whatever you wish in your front/backyard. It's private property for a reason. Unbelievable.

  29. Great video, the only thing I miss when I build my garden last year it s close to water source… You are right, not easy to watering my garden. Ty

  30. Thanks for your videos. I noticed you had dinosaur kale growing. I tried to grow some last year but between the loopers, japenese beetle and slugs I was unable to harvest ANY. I used about everything people recommended but nothing stopped them and they didn't grow well at all. Are you going to go over how you put the soil you use together?

  31. Mr Pat, I wanted you to check out this guys method on gardening
    Let me know what you think,  and if it is for real
    Back to Eden  by – Paul  Gautschi
    Youtube Channel Name is –  L2Survive

    Its seems so unbelievable to do this garden with no watering.
    I would like to here your professional feed back.

  32. I know NOTHING about gardening but would like to start off by growing vegetables so I am very much looking forward to following your series for beginners. As regards the shade being cast in part of your garden by neighbouring trees, do you not have any legislation where you are governing such matters which would entitle you to request the tree owners to cut back their trees on the basis that they are depriving part of your garden of light? This is a right that people have in other countries. As regards homeowners associations, the homeowners should be able to vote to change the management company, and thereafter the rules governing what they can and cannot do, particularly if they do not like the original rules imposed by the developer who then formed the management company. Also, I have heard that in some States in the U.S. there are even local councils which prohibit homeowners from erecting solar panels, and oblige them to use a particular electricity supplier. This seems crazy to me, particularly in this age of conservation and the use of more productive and sustainable processes.

  33. I hope that every new gardener searching for info finds you channel early in their quest. Such practical info that a the novice or the expert can learn from.
    Thanks for sharing.
    #garden   #gardening    #gardeningtips   #gardendesign   #gardeningideas   #growing   #growyourown

  34. If your neighbours, whether immediately adjacent to you or not, are depriving you of light to your property I should have thought you would be entitled to require the offenders to cut back their trees, and particularly when the deprivation of light is having real and significant consequences for the purpose to which you put your back garden. Of course, it may depend on the legislation governing your area. While I am not particularly familiar with your Constitution, I should have thought that a right to light is your constitutional right, and in which event any local law purporting to void such right would be unconstitutional.  It would be worth your while to check the matter out with a lawyer. Avoid any legal cost by asking an acquaintance lawyer, or through a friend who is a friend of a lawyer, or try a free legal advice centre – if you have such facilities in the U.S.! Or you could Google your Constitution and right to light cases. Our laws are much simpler here (Ireland) as we are not governed by all sorts of different federal, state and local laws. We have legislation and case law based on our Constitution. If we think there is something unconstitutional with a piece of legislation, or process, we challenge it.

  35. I used to get an idea sun/shade before I placed my raised beds.  It's a really useful tool.

  36. I'm guessing you're getting tons of rain too! Are you taking any special steps to deal with the excessive amounts of rainfall? I've been cutting the yellowing bottom leaves off of my tomatoes and spraying them down with a baking soda/soap solution (on the rare days that it's not raining) but I don't know if it's helping any. Your garden looks awesome as usual.

  37. Thanks for this  Patrick! So now listening I hear you say your yard has a North facing slope. Ok So my garden is out in front of my house which is facing North East. The Sun
    rises In front of the garden. Do you think this location even though the sun is rising in front it may still not be in the right angle to grow? Some Blue Dwarf Kale did not even sprout this year. I started out with this kind of kale and it grew effortlessly in 2013.
    I am now wondering if it is due to the soil being moved by tilling that halted my good kale growth? I am just very grateful my Vates collards are starting to get big and strong some are the others that are a bit smaller I will re fertilize. There is a lot to learn but it is sucha healthy hobby!!

  38. I wish you would upload you just playing the guitar song for the garden video all the way through. Is it longer then you play on the video? I really like the key you play in its very soothing I know I mentioned it before but I had to say it again cause its a pretty lil jam you made up! Peace Brother

  39. Nice one Patrick! I've been researching pineapple cultivation in Britain and, before you laugh, you may like to take a look at the link below. In particular the reference to the fermentation of oak bark in the third paragraph of the section entitled "Structures designed for pineapple growing." I sometimes wonder if I'm more interested in making compost than growing plants themselves.

  40. hey Patrick,
    New to your channel what seed company do you use I'm from northeast ohio .
    thanks again for a great channel

  41. Awesome video, newbie veg garden grower here so any info is great info…Subscribed and looking forward to more of your videos, keep them coming

  42. Thank you for all of your education. You have been valuable to my family and I as we start our farming journey! I have mentioned you in my newest video and will be putting a link to your page in the description. Thank you, again!

  43. Great stuff, Patrick. Really enjoying all your videos.

    I'm preparing now for my first garden in spring 2017. Keep the great advice coming.

  44. Thank you so much for sharing. This is very helpful advice, full of bits and pieces we'd never have thought of before digging in. We really appreciate your time! Happy gardening 🙂

  45. Patrick, I'm trying to decide whether to plant facing south, or East. I live in N . Texas and shade seems to be helpful in mid to late spring and obviously through the summer. My main concern is the heat. Any help would be greatly appreciated, orienting my garden.

  46. how truly lost has a society become when they make laws against growing food! its one thing to have most people so lost that they simply dont care to grow thingss but to specifically stop the ones who do from doing it is madness, why do ppl care so much about what others do in their yards, its mental illness

  47. Wowzers! I didn't know that there are, so many, factors, to consider. I think, I'm going to stick with buying vegetables from the store, but, I'll probably start going to the farmer's markets, sometimes. Thanks, for this helpful video. I learned, alot:)

  48. Patrick, it would be nice to know where you are so we can determine what we need to change in your advice because our conditions may be vastly different.

  49. Thank you for the content. Your garden is so beautiful! I subscribed because I have been saving up to buy a house and would like to grow food in the garden. But I have to admit, I feel very overwhelmed. Preparing the soil and building beds seems to be the fun part honestly. Deciding the crop and protecting it from harsh weather and bug damage is something I know nothing about.

    I still have time before I buy my house in Virginia or Florida and I would like to have a solid plan. when I start gardening.

  50. New subscriber here. Found you from Jake at White House on the Hill. This video convinced me to subscribe even though I am in the country with 10 acres. 🙂

  51. Good job! We've included this video in our Best of YouTube for learning to create a veg garden.

  52. Your garden looks amazing and your hostas, wow, gorgeous. Do you have slugs at all? If so, how do you deal with them?

  53. Do you have fire ants? and if so how do you keep them out of your outdoor worm habitats, raised beds, etc.?

    Thank you for your amazing content

  54. Hi new backyard Gardner here. Love watching your videos. Can you do a video on where in your garden you planted your backberry and grape plants. They seem to be doing well and producing tons. Trying to get ideas of where I can plant them in my small backyard garden.

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