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A Beginner’s Guide to Backyard Vegetable Gardens


Creating a scenic landscape that frames your backyard pool can be an affordable option to dress your outdoor entertainment center in style.

Taking time to commune with nature is also soothing for the soul, particularly if you spend most of your day in front of a computer screen. Stepping out and away from technology will give you a chance to breathe!

However, if you’ve never considered yourself a gardener, it may be a little intimidating at first. So perhaps you don’t want your first foray into horticulture to involve planting and tending rose bushes. They can be finicky and require a great deal of care.

What About a Vegetable Garden?

Given the broad spectrum of boldly colored fruits and vegetables, they too can add a beautiful visual to your backyard space. Even if they don’t bloom into picture-perfect specimens, they’ll still taste good! Actually, the flavor and texture of your home-grown vegetables will far exceed what you’ll find in your supermarket.

  1. Make a Plan

First consider the fruits and vegetables your family enjoys. While you may be able to harvest zucchini all day long, if no one likes it, then it’s a waste. If you like tomatoes, peppers, and squash, they will produce year-round. Figure your menus in advance so you can take advantage of the full crop. You may not need too many multiples of these plants as you will be picking from them throughout the season.

Note that vegetables like carrots, radishes, and corn produce only once in a season and then need to be replanted.

As far as your planting schedule, it will be staggered so you’ll have a bounty from which to choose over the three growing seasons:

  • Early spring grow: peas, radishes, carrots, broccoli, and greens like lettuce and arugula.
  • After you’ve harvested these cool-weather crops, you can plant: eggplant, herbs, tomatoes and peppers.
  • And in the fall, harvest: the very versatile potatoes and kale.

Check out these 17 Incredibly Easy to Grow Vegetable Garden Plants for Beginner Gardeners by Gardeners’ Magazine.

  1. Set the Scene

Don’t overwhelm yourself. A good beginner garden size is 10×10 with perhaps five different types of plants. If you want to go smaller at first, try a couple of pots on your balcony or even small containers of herbs on your kitchen’s windowsill. The smell of fresh basil and dill will be a welcome addition to your kitchen’s ambiance. Their aroma and essence will put the dried versions of these spices to shame!

To maximize success, you need to start out with the ideal location. You don’t want to place your garden in the most remote recesses of your yard because you won’t be able to keep your eyes on it. You may be less likely to visit it daily to see how it’s doing. Also, if you can just cross your deck to your garden to select the perfect additions to the meal you’re preparing, the proximity will make you more likely to do so.

However, the first and best placement guide will be dictated by the sun exposure. Ideally, your garden should be positioned north to south to benefit from all the sun it can get. Plants like parsley and thyme, lettuce and kale, spinach and chives, will tolerate some shade. So, if the lot you have in mind has a section that receives some respite from the sun, these delicious additions can take up residency at that end of the garden.

You’ll want to water frequently in the beginning and then once established, encourage the roots to dive deeper by giving them a long soak every few days. Do the best job possible to water the soil and not the leaves to avoid development of fungus. (If you are using a sprinkler, run it early in the day so the leaves are dry by sunset.) Also, do not assume that rainfall will always get the job done. You’ll want to check 3-4 inches down to make sure the rain provided adequate moisture. If the soil at that level is still dry, you’ll need to help Mother Nature along.

Besides the appropriate sun and water, ensure the soil is optimal. Adding compost to enrich it will help give your fruits and veggies the abundant nutrients they need to manufacture the most robust produce. If you have doubts about your soil’s composition, bring a sample in to your local nursery and ask the experts what they think should be added as well as the best fertilizing options.

  1. Keep Your Garden Safe

If your garden is on your rooftop deck, you probably needn’t be concerned about small animals preying on those delectable leaves, but otherwise, it would be a good idea to fence your garden to deter curious critters. A good rule of a green thumb is an 8’ fence to discourage deer and a fence that is dug in 6” down to dissuade rabbits.

You’ll want to of course weed regularly so your thriving plants don’t get elbowed out by hardy weeds competing for the soil, sun, and water. Mulch can be a good solution. You can discuss organic or chemical alternatives to keep smaller pests at bay, so they don’t feast on your fresh produce.

  1. Track Your Cost Savings

A $3 – $5 tomato plant can yield up to 10 pounds of this versatile fruit. Besides the cost savings you want to account for, think of making fresh tomato sauce from the overripe ones or sliding some hearty slices into a sandwich. You can also layer slivers of tomato between thin wedges of fresh mozzarella. Top with fragrant leaves from your fresh basil plant and add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and oil for a delicious appetizer. Or try these easy to make caprese skewers!

  1. Finishing Touches

Just as you’ve carefully selected the aesthetics of your backyard retreat, your vegetable garden doesn’t need to be fenced with chicken wire. You can purchase cute wooden signs with stakes and paint the names of the plants on them. If you’re looking for function and fashion, check out these raised beds and hanging planters courtesy of!

Your outdoor space can be as colorful and full of life as your imagination. With a sparkling pool, a sun deck, an outdoor kitchen, and some yard-to-table vegetables, you can live the sweet life in the confines of your personal haven.

As home improvement financing solution experts since 1979, we love all the nuances that a backyard retreat can hold. Lyon Financial also loves the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information.