Picking a Location for Your Kitchen Garden
Should you choose the strip of grass alongside the driveway? What about that one patch in the backyard that gets all the sun? Is the front yard even an option?
Picking the perfect spot for your kitchen garden can be a challenge. My team at Rooted Garden in Houston and my Gardenary-certified garden coaches help clients make this tough decision every day. In fact, it's a key part of their job because it's not just the design of the kitchen garden that really matters—it's the location.
You've probably heard a realtor say, "Location, location, location," and it holds just as true for the kitchen garden as it does for a house.
If you have limited space, such as a patio or only a small patch of ground that receives sunlight, then the decision may have already been made for you. If you have a huge backyard, then you might have several spaces where a garden could go.
Either way, there will be some sort of available spot in your outdoor space where you can grow delicious food. I guarantee you, something edible will grow in your space if you follow these guidelines for choosing the ideal garden location.
Key Considerations for the Ideal Kitchen Garden Location
After working with hundreds of clients to design and install kitchen gardens, I've narrowed the long list of things to consider when choosing a site for your kitchen garden to four key aspects:
- Sunlight exposure
- Water proximity
Let's look at each of these more closely.
The Ideal Site for a Kitchen Garden Will Get Lots of Sun
I'm starting off with the single most important factor to consider: sunlight. In my experience, choosing the spot with the best sun should make up about 60 percent of your decision.
Your garden will need to receive six or more direct sunlight hours per day, all year. Really though, you're aiming for as much sun as possible. Ideally, you'll position your garden on the south side of any tall structures, such as homes, garages, tall sheds, and fences. This is especially important during the winter months, when the sun is lower on the horizon for those of us who live in the Northern Hemisphere.
If your only available spot receives four or so hours of sun a day, you can still have a kitchen garden—you'll just need to prioritize growing herbs and salad greens, plants that will still thrive with less-than-ideal sun.
Now, what if you have the perfect sunny spot but there's already something there, like a swing set or an outdoor dining table? Let me just say that structures involved with eating, entertaining, and playing can typically be enjoyed at the same rate in shade as they can be in the sun. In other words, you'll probably still take advantage of your outdoor seating space if it's in one spot versus another. This doesn't hold true for a garden. Your plants have way more requirements for success and will not thrive in just any old spot of your yard.
The Best Place for Your Kitchen Garden Will Be Close to a Water Source
Proximity to a water source is the second consideration when selecting a site for your kitchen garden. This should make up about 20 percent of your decision. Unless you live somewhere that happens to reliably give you one inch of rain per week (Wouldn't that be nice!), you'll need to set up a way for your fruits and veggies to get consistent water.
If you're thinking, "This doesn't pertain to me. I'll wake up early and water with a watering can every morning," let me forewarn you that watering by hand can feel like a chore real fast. Plus, it can put a damper on your travel plans or kill your vacation glow when you return to dead plants.
It's far better to place your garden, when possible, near a spigot, a rain barrel, or a location where it can be connected to an irrigation system. Plants love the deep and consistent water that drip irrigation can supply.
Check out our FREE download on the 4 mistakes you'll want to avoid before adding a new garden. Learn how to avoid: choosing the wrong location, creating a garden that looks “awkward”, forgetting your priorities, and not knowing your local numbers.
Convenience Is Key When Figuring Out Where to Put Your Raised Garden Beds
Convenience should make up about ten percent of your decision. Out of sight, out of mind is definitely a thing, and the more hidden away your garden is, the least likely you are to head outside to tend it, harvest from it, and enjoy it.
We just so happen to believe that kitchen gardens should ideally be located as close to the kitchen as possible—imagine that! My own kitchen garden is visible from my kitchen window and can be accessed easily. This makes it super easy for me to pop outside with scissors to snip some herbs for dinner or some lettuce leaves for my lunch.
If proximity to your kitchen is not an option, think of a location as close to your everyday activities as possible. Look for sunny locations near a back door, front door, or even next to your driveway. (Bonus: you'll be able to check in with how your garden is doing and which things are ready for harvest every time you come home.)
Get Your Own Garden Design
Designing your own kitchen garden can be overwhelming. A virtual kitchen garden design combines the experience of a professional designer with the convenience of a virtual planning session so that you can plan, design, and build your own kitchen garden with confidence. Let Gardenary-trained designers help you grow yourself and your garden.
The Location of Your Kitchen Garden Should Fit in Aesthetically
If you've been keeping count, you'll know there's only ten percent left in your decision making. The aesthetics of your location is the final piece. You want your kitchen garden to fit in with the rest of your landscape. Our goal at Gardenary and Rooted Garden is to ensure the kitchen garden feels like an extension of the home, something that's always been there.
To ensure your kitchen garden fits in with the rest of your space, connect your garden to the rest of the landscape by placing it near prominent structures or lining it up with existing elements of your home or yard. Look for spots where you could add beds along already-established lines, such as a side yard, a fence, a driveway (like the garden pictured below), a deck, a patio, or a pool (like the garden pictured above).
So, Where Is the Best Place to Put a Raised Garden Bed?
Weigh all four considerations (sunlight being most important, then proximity to water, and then convenience and aesthetics) to select your top garden site choice. You don't have to go for the absolute perfect kitchen garden location. Such a space is just not attainable for all of us, and you don't need to put that kind of pressure on yourself and risk stressing so much about location that you never set up a garden at all.
Instead, aim to match these four considerations as much as possible. The spot that you land on will ideally be large enough to accommodate the size of garden necessary to hold the amount of fruits and vegetables you'd like to grow. If not, remember you could always grow your herbs and leafy greens in a more shaded spot and prioritize your sunniest areas for large fruiting plants.
Complete Guide to Gardenary Raised Beds
Get three books in one and learn how to make each of Gardenary’s signature raised beds.
You’ll learn the step by step to create:
-the $100 raised garden bed used in Salad Garden School
-the rolling steel planter used in Herb Garden Guide Course
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Resources to Help You Pick Your Kitchen Garden Location
If you're feeling stuck or intimidated over picking the perfect spot, you're not alone. Gardenary exists to give beginner gardeners a place where they can find all the resources they need to keep on growing.
If you're a DIY'er, my book, Kitchen Garden Revival, delves deeper into picking a location for your kitchen garden and then walks you through the planning, designing, building, planting, and tending of your space.
If you're more an online-course-type of person, check out our popular course, Kitchen Garden Academy. Over the course of eight modules, we walk you through the complete step by step to set up and grow in your own kitchen garden.
For maximum help setting up your own kitchen garden, find a garden consultant near you to come out to your space or work with one of our designers virtually through our brand new online garden design.
Work With Your Own Garden Designer
A garden consultant or designer can help you set up a productive kitchen garden that will also be beautiful. Part of Gardenary design is the use of elements, structures, and hardscapes that make the garden beautiful year round, even if it's bare in the winter or fully grown in the summer. Your garden consultant is there to help you have a beautiful garden every single season.
No matter how you choose to set up your raised beds and grow, don't grow alone! We're here to give you the confidence and the knowledge to find success in the garden!
Get Your Own Garden Design
Designing your own kitchen garden can be overwhelming. An online kitchen garden design combines the experience of a professional designer with the convenience of a virtual planning session so that you can plan, design, and build your own kitchen garden with confidence. Let Gardenary-trained designers help you grow yourself and your garden.