Bundle up and take a walk outside to check out your previous garden. Or if this is your first, the location of your new garden. You might take a photo of the space to use it later as a "before" picture.
When choosing your garden space, check out the quality and type of soil. Avoid clays or sandy soils if possible. Loose, well-drained soil is preferred. Make sure the location of your garden will provide optimal opportunity for your garden to grow as well as be appreciated. Avoid planting near driveways or other areas where factors out of your control can lead to damage and an affected crop.
Be sure that tall plants don't tower over shorter plants, depriving them of sun. You want to plant so that the transition of tall plants to short plants is a gradual step-down or so that the shorter plants get enough light. Avoid planting near trees or shrubs, as their roots will compete with your garden plants' roots for water and sustenance. Also, don't plant your garden too far away from your house so it is inconvenient for you come harvest time, or when you need to water plants with the hose.
Remember to leave enough space between plants, especially anything that grows tall or wide that might crowd other plants growing next to it. Plants need room to grow properly.
If you're just beginning your garden, get a tape measure from your local True Value hardware store and take measurements of the space where you want your garden to grow. Take note of how much space you have and how much you need. Be careful not to take up your entire yard; you don't want to use all of your open space.
A good-size starter garden is usually about 30 square feet. If space is minimal, you can grow plants on a plot of land as small as 20 square feet – just choose compact varieties of herbs, flowers or vegetables like squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. Keep in mind that you'll need to spend about an hour a week on every 100 square feet you plant.
Using your measurements, draw your garden dimensions on graph paper. Lay it out so that it accurately reflects all planting areas and label each row with its corresponding plant. Include any obstacles, such as trees or other features that might act as complementary boundary markers or even ones that could prove potentially problematic.
Outside, mark the dimensions and the shape of the garden with a chalk line or outline the area using stakes and string. You can also create garden markers for your plants.