Designing a garden bed can be fun, overwhelming, and hard work all in one! If you’re trying to design a new garden bed consider making it an edible garden. It’s an extra bonus for all of your hard work!
Often times when I think of designing my garden I categorize everything. Assuming vegetables are by themselves. Herbs in a different spot. Then succulents over there. And flowers in their own pots and garden beds.
Well this year for the first time I designed my herb garden with succulents!
I have an area next to my chicken coop that is shaded and only gets sun a few times throughout the day.
Last year I had it planted in flowers, and while it was pretty, it did not grow as great as I’d hoped.
So this year I started researching what flowers would grow best in shade and all the plants that I loved and wanted needed way more sun!
And all along I never considered planting herbs or succulents in that area (the plants that actually prefer some shade)!
Until one evening we had some friends over for dinner and as I was walking through my garden showing them around, my best friends mom suggested making it an herb garden.
I was so excited that she suggested that because it was the PERFECT spot for herbs.
So sometimes when you’re feeling stuck it can really help getting a second set of eyes or opinions.
I was so set on making it a flower bed that I never even considered my other options.
So now I have planted many different herbs and included a few different pots and arrangements with succulents as well!
How to Prepare Your Garden Bed
In my case the ground was hard from getting packed in by rain all winter. So I brought out the rototiller and tilled up the soil until it was nice and worked up. Then I added in compost and used the rototiller again to mix it in to the top layer of soil.
If you don’t have your own rototiller (amazon), I highly recommend getting one. It is one of my greatest garden investments.
I initially thought I’d only use it every now and then, but I use it every time I am preparing my garden for planting and it makes it so much easier!
Whether you’re going to be planting your plants in raised beds or in the ground, prepare the area by pulling out all of the weeds. Then work up the soil if needed, either with a rototiller or by hand with a shovel.
Then if your soil needs it, mix in some compost or potting soil such as Miracle-Gro Performance Organics All Purpose soil. You can always test the ph of your soil if you aren’t sure what your soil needs.
Although, once you know the type of soil you have, within a couple of planting seasons you’ll start to see how plants grow and will be able to better decide what should be added into your soil.
What to do Before Planting
First, water soil:
Once you have worked up your garden bed, water it in. Whether you are planting transplants or seeds, it is always better to plant into moist soil.
Moist soil helps hold seeds in place so when you first water they don’t get washed away. It also helps transplanted plants by lessening the shock of transplanting.
Plus, moist soil is much easier to dig into, so you’ll save yourself some effort!
Second, map out design while keeping in mind:
- Light requirements
- Plant size
- Growing habits
I like to quickly design and map out where plants should go before planting because it will give you the best chance later on for healthy plants.
In the area where I did my herb garden, it is right up against my chicken coop, receiving mostly shade but the outer portion gets more sun.
So I planted herbs that do well in more sun towards the outer edge and plants the require more shade closer to the wall.
For example, in our hot summers cilantro will bolt quickly so I planted cilantro in the shadier area of my garden bed and it has been growing great!
Thyme on the other hand does best in full sun. So I planted my thyme plants along the edge of the garden bed where they will receive the most fun.
Then I did a few potted succulents in between since a majority of succulents grow well in about half shade, especially in hot areas like mine.
The next thing to know is how big each plant gets. You don’t want something that grows really tall to be in front and cover up your smaller plants.
So as I planted each herb variety I put the tallest plants towards the back and low growing and shorter plants near the front.
The last thing to keep in mind is the growing habit of each plant. There are some herbs that can take over an entire area! So it is super important to know that before planting.
An example is mint! Mint will grow like crazy and take over a whole bed if you aren’t careful. And the tricky part is that even if you pull it out it will come right back.
So I don’t ever plant mint straight into the ground, I plant it in its own pot.
Why I Chose Edible Plants Over Flowers
I think everybody loves flowers because they’re so pretty. But sometimes they’re only pretty when they bloom which means at other times they might seem a little useless.
And that’s not exactly the case for me, I still plant flowers but I don’t try to incorporate as many around my vegetable garden.
But I redesigned my garden this year and I thought having all plants be edible would be a great addition. Even though I have some potted succulents here and there, all planted plants in the ground are edible.
I also have a limited vegetable garden space. So it makes the most sense to have my herbs and vegetables all in one area instead of filling that space with flower beds.
Some edible plants to choose from can be vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and berry vines!
Currently I only have vegetables, herbs, and strawberries, but I am hoping to add some more variety soon!