How to Start a Vegetable Garden in the Backyard

At least two rows of any vegetable increases chance of success.
At least two rows of any vegetable increases chance of success. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Starting a vegetable garden may seem daunting, but it's easier than it looks. At its very core, starting a vegetable garden requires nothing more than digging a hole and putting seeds in the ground. Digging a larger hole simply gives you room to plant more seeds, and filling that hole with top-quality soil helps the seeds grow. Beyond that, vegetable gardeners are free to use their imaginations.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Four-tine pitchfork
  • Dirt rake
  • Garden gloves
  • Topsoil
  • Compost
  • Seeds

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Choose a sunny spot in your backyard that is preferably on the south side of your property; the south side of any yard receives the most sun. Look for an open space that is not too near trees. Trees provide shade, and many popular vegetable varieties do best in full sun.

Plan the vegetable garden. While this step is not necessary, planning what you want to grow and where increases your chances of success. Read seed packets to know how much space is needed between plant varieties, and map out how to plant your vegetable garden.

Measure the space you want for your garden. The more space, the more food you can grow. Vegetables are usually planted in rows with a foot or so of space between them. You will need at least a couple of yards on each side of the garden.

Dig up the grass with a four-tine pitchfork, not a shovel. Wear garden gloves to prevent blisters. Push the top of the pitchfork into the ground with your foot, lean on the handle and push up the grass. Dig down at least a foot.

Dispose of the dug-up grass or, alternatively, turn it upside down around the edge of the garden. Some gardeners say this prevents weeds on the edge of the garden.

Even if the soil in your yard is good, start the new garden with good quality topsoil. Lawn soil is full of grass and weed seeds. Purchase bags of topsoil and compost at any garden supply shop or hardware store. Tell the people at the garden supply shop how big your plot is, and they will tell you how many bags of soil and compost to use; more soil is used than compost.

Alternate dumping soil with a little compost into the garden bed and work the two together. Mix with your gloved hands or a dirt rake. Fill the garden bed and till the top with the rake.

Sprinkle seeds in the various plots in your vegetable garden. Till with the dirt rake, and sprinkle more soil on top of the seeds.

Tips & Warnings

  • In subsequent years, purchase a soil test kit every spring. Before planting seeds, follow the directions on the kit. A pH of 6.5 is desirable. If soil is too acidic, correct by adding compost.


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