Organic Gardening For Dummies
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Before you start planting, you need to create a garden plan. Start by using graph paper and drawing a plan of your garden site to scale. Plot every feature you find on your site, both natural and those you or your predecessors have put in place. Use a measuring tape to get approximate measurements. You may also want to indicate areas of sun and shade.

After you've completed the initial drawing of your yard or garden plot, you can move forward and add the elements for your garden plan. Here are some recommendations:

  • Gather any pictures you're using for inspiration, and prepare a list of your main goals, assets, and limitations.

  • Study your current plan carefully and decide which features you want to incorporate into your final plan, which ones you want to highlight, and which ones you want to downplay or remove.

  • Place a piece of tracing paper over your plan and sketch in or leave out various features and designs.

When designing your garden plan, you don't have to get bogged down in details, listing every plant by name. Instead, “sun-loving perennials,” “blue and yellow bed,” or “pots of annuals” may suffice.

With your sketched yard in hand, your next step is to decide which area you want to start with and to roll up your sleeves. Break big projects down into manageable pieces, and do them one at a time.

Like rooms in a house, a garden area has four major elements. And as in building a house, going from the ground up is best. Tackle the four major elements in this order:

  • Floor: Lawn grass, a groundcover, paving materials, or good, plantable soil

  • Walls: Supplied literally by a wall of your house; by a fence, hedge, or trellis; or by backdrop of evergreens or shrubs of some kind

  • Ceiling: Can certainly be open sky but may also involve an umbrella, awnings, overarching tree or large-shrub branches, or a pergola with or without a cloak of plants

  • Furniture: Tables and chairs and benches and the like, but also major containers or garden ornaments and décor

Don't go overboard with garden gnomes and pink flamingos. Limit yourself to one or two ornaments and keep the focus on the sense of space and the living parts of your garden.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Ann Whitman is the author of the first edition of Organic Gardening For Dummies.

Suzanne DeJohn is an editor with the National Gardening Association, the leading garden-based educational nonprofit organization in the U.S. NGA's programs and initiatives highlight the opportunities for plant-based education in schools, communities, and backyards across the country. These include award-winning Web sites and

The National Gardening Association (NGA) is committed to sustaining and renewing the fundamental links between people, plants, and the earth. Founded in 1972 as “Gardens for All” to spearhead the community garden movement, today’s NGA promotes environmental responsibility, advances multidisciplinary learning and scientifi c literacy, and creates partnerships that restore and enhance communities.
NGA is best known for its garden-based curricula, educational journals, international initiatives, and several youth garden grant programs. Together these reach more than 300,000 children nationwide each year. NGA’s Web sites, one for home gardeners and another for those who garden with kids, build community and offer a wealth of custom content.

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