Backyard Vegetable Garden: Growing Your Own Food, Vegetable Garden Tips

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | October 13, 2023

Woman looking at her backyard vegetable garden after learning how to starting growing your own food and vegetables in your backyard, and reading gardening tips, soil prep, and planting guide.

There’s nothing like having fresh, off-the-vine red tomatoes for making salsa, or green leafy spinach for your healthy salads, or even snacking on a colorful bell pepper plant from your personal backyard vegetable garden.

More and more people are growing their own food, not only to reduce costs, but also to help reduce emissions from store-bought, trucked in produce.

If you know nothing about gardening basics and organic gardening, consider this an ultimate guide to gardening for beginners that will tell you everything you need to know about starting a garden in your own backyard

A backyard vegetable garden can be a fun, healthy, and relaxing activity that allows you to connect with nature, grow your own organic produce, and eat nutritious plant foods. And, it’s not too hard to get started.

But, you will need some patience to grow your own vegetable garden.4

This complete guide can show you how to start a backyard vegetable garden, whether it’s a few raised beds, or a large plot.

Vegetable Garden Tips: How To Start a Vegetable Garden

There are a lot of things that you need to consider before planting vegetables in your new backyard garden.

Graphic of how to prepare ground for a garden showcasing sequential steps such as double digging soil layers, creating and using the perfect soil mix with compost, considering the climate and planning, keeping gardening space in mind, and following planting instructions from seed packets.

Here are some essential tips for starting a vegetable garden:

How To Prepare Ground for a Garden

Your backyard soil might not be not rich in organic minerals. Fortunately, you can supplement it with other organic soil or with compost.

To prepare your ground for gardening, choose a perfect soil mix and start with double-digging your backyard.

1. Double Digging

Double digging is a method that enhances your soil and prepares it for gardening. Dig your backyard ground twice as deep as your shovel.

Once you have dug deep enough and your native soil is exposed, you can mix your soil with high-quality organic matter.

2. Perfect Soil Mix

There are a lot of organic compounds and minerals that you can choose from. However, some of the most commonly used fertilizing organic matter include compost, aged manure, peat moss, and mushroom soil.

These are great for your soil and will make your plants much healthier and tastier.

3. Planning and Climate Consideration

Once you have selected the right location and prepared the soil, it’s time to plant your vegetable garden. Planning is important, as you have to keep climate and weather in mind before planting seeds.

Some vegetables grow better in different conditions. For instance, a cucumber plant thrives in higher temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other plants like mint and other herbs can grow at significantly lower temperatures and all through autumn and spring without needing much sun.6

When building your backyard vegetable garden, think about what you love to eat and tailor your preparation to those types of plants.

4. Keep Gardening Space in Mind

You will also have to keep space in mind and the amount of work you can handle.

Gardening takes a lot of commitment and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, especially if you are a beginner.

Freshly harvested vegetables, including orange carrots and purple beets with their leafy greens, arranged in rows on the soil of a backyard garden.

(Image: nagjuha09)

Plan your garden by keeping your abilities in mind and commit to small spaces so that you don’t quickly exhaust yourself. It is best to divide work into time slots and make daily goals beat stress and impatience.

5. Follow the Instructions

While planting, it is important to read the instructions on seed packets regarding watering, depth, and spacing. You will find detailed information about the plant at the back of the packet about temperature, humidity, fertilizers, and moisture.

Even if there is not any information, you need to do your research and provide your plant with the best nutrition and minerals.

Here are a few ways keep your vegetables healthy. First, water your plant immediately after you plant the seeds.

Then, as your vegetables begin to grow, make sure that your soil is moist but not waterlogged. You can use a layer of mulch to control weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

Don’t overwater your plants as it can lead to root rot. Stick to a minimum of one inch of water per week.

You might encounter common plant pests like slugs, tomato ringworms, caterpillars, and aphids. You can use natural pesticides like neem oil and insecticide soaps against them or simply pick them off with your hands.2

Backyard Vegetable Garden: Best Soil for Vegetable Garden

Before you start planting vegetables in your backyard, it is important to understand the available gardening zones. Choosing the best spot for gardening is the first step.

You should choose a location that gets the most amount of sun during the day. Most vegetable plants need approximately six to eight hours of sun for greater yield, bigger plants, and better-tasting produce.

Choose the Right Spot

Make sure that you have a consistent water supply close to your desired location. Don’t choose one that floods, collects water, has deep slopes, dries out quickly, or is exposed to heavy winds.

Remember that ultimately, the health of your crops hinges on the health of your soil. Healthy soil is moist, well-drained, and rich in organic minerals.

Another thing contributing to the health of your soil is temperature. Ideal gardening soil is warm and faces plenty of sun.

Build a Raised Gardening Bed

If you have a compact gardening space, a raised gardening bed is a great way to grow healthier crops. Raised beds have better-uncompressed soil that hasn’t been trodden on.

In addition to this, raised beds also have warmer soil, better water, and sufficient air movement which allow roots to spread more easily. Raised beds can also help prevent weed pollination and ensure better drainage.

Building a raised bed for your garden is actually pretty easy. Once you treat and improve your soil, rake the improved mixture of your soil into an appropriate-sized soil bed.

The desired size of your bed could be anything, however, it is advised to keep it four feet wide or less. You can then build a raised edging around your bed.

This is an important step as it helps in water drainage and blocks weeds. You can also add a weed cloth at the bottom of the bed to ensure better weed prevention.

Rake your soil smoothly throughout the bed to ensure that your soil is distributed evenly. At the end, you can also cover your bed with at least two inches of mulch to ensure further prevention from weed pollination.

If you are building more than one raised bed for your garden, you need to keep a few things in your mind. For instance, it is important to leave at least 18 to 24 inches between two different raised beds.

This will allow you sufficient space to tend to your crops without accidentally stepping on your raised beds.2

Organic Backyard Vegetable Garden

Organic is in fact a term that is highly regulated,7 and anything that wants to be considered organic must pass inspection by a regulatory agency.

That’s why sometimes at farmers markets you will see signs like “no pesticides, herbicides, or chemicals.”

A garden bed filled with an array of fresh garden vegetables, including leafy greens and lettuce.

(Image: planet_fox10)

It means they claim their produce is up to certain organic standards but don’t want to pay to have it certified. Your backyard produce should be up to organic standards too provided you don’t expose it to any toxins.

Vegetables To Grow: What To Plant in Garden

Let’s finally come to the juiciest part of this guide, what to grow in your vegetable garden?

When it comes to what type of veggies you want to pant, things can get a little confusing. This is because not all plants can grow and thrive in similar weather and ground conditions.

It is best to consult a growing zones map before you start planting your vegetables.8

Another important thing that you want to ask yourself is if you want to grow your tried-and-true favorites or want to experiment by trying exotics.

For someone who is just starting to get the hang of backyard gardening, it is better to stick with plants that require less maintenance and are easy to grow. For example tomatoes, lettuce, and beans.

Another important factor to consider is what time of the year it is. Some plants like tomatoes and bell pepper plants are warm seasoned plants that require plenty of sun and should be planted right after the first frost.

These plants are extremely sensitive and cannot tolerate frost. If your night temperature drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, it is best to avoid plating these until summer arrives.

On the other hand, spinach and lettuce could be planted in late spring or fall. Garlic plant also requires temperature between 32 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and is not affected by the cold as it matures.3

Garden Vegetables

Here’s a list of common warm-season and cool-season plants that are easy to grow.

A vegetable gardening space in a backyard featuring sunflowers, vegetables, and a dirt pathway.

(Image: HansLinde11)

This will assist you in planning your garden based on climate and temperature.

  • Warm-seasoned plants: Tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, and lima beans
  • Cool-seasoned plants: Carrots, cauliflower, lettuce, mint, broccoli, and spinach

Backyard Garden: Reasons To Start Backyard Gardening

If you are new to gardening, it may seem like a daunting task at first. However, once you get a proper idea of the right gardening supplies, gardening tools and techniques, you will begin to enjoy it and might even find it therapeutic.

Whether you have a small backyard or a patio, backyard vegetable garden is essential for a healthy, organic, and nutritious diet.

Benefits of Growing Your Own Food

Local gardening can be extremely beneficial for the environment by reducing the distance between farms and consumers. This will also reduce the amount of vehicle fuel exhausted on food transportation consequently dropping carbon emissions and mitigating climate change risks.

By planting common crops of daily use such as tomato plant,5 basil plant, and lettuce plant, you can save a lot of money while eating delicious produce that you grew with your own hands.

In addition to this, backyard vegetable gardening is a great use of fertile land right under your feet in many North American yards, allowing you to make your own tiny garden containing all of your favorite vegetables.1

Vegetable Gardening (Types and Differences)

When you think about gardens, do you envision long rows of crops? Well, you don’t have to turn your backyard into a farm to build a vegetable garden.

There are different types of gardening like container gardening and vertical gardening that allows you to save space and grow fresh produce at the same time. You can grow different kinds of small crops in containers or on special material attached to a wall.

High vertical gardens can also cover outside walls with forest-like foliage.

Similarly, straw bale gardening uses a bale of straw or hay instead of a bed of soil and compost to grow vegetables. It is inexpensive, helps stabilize temperature, and lets you control the nutrients while preventing bending.

No-till gardening is another special technique that retains carbon in the soil by using disc seeders and agricultural drills.

This way, the soil suffers minimum disturbance as it is dug exactly where the seed is to be dropped,3 making it ideal for a backyard vegetable garden.

Growing your own food in a backyard vegetable garden is a rewarding endeavor, just remember to ask advice and be patient, and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a delicious harvest.

Frequently Asked Questions About Backyard Vegetable Garden

Can I Garden Indoors?

Yes, most of the things you can grow outside (as backyard foot plants) can be grown indoors. Special considerations just need to be taken, especially for their potting and light exposure.

How Do I Keep My Backyard Garden Organic?

Most people do not want toxic chemicals on their food plants, especially those they grow themselves. Using such herbicides or pesticides on your garden or nearby areas, like your lawn, can result in these chemicals seeping into your plants and ultimately entering your body.


1Boeckmann, C. (2023, May 16). The Basics of Planting and Growing a Vegetable Garden. Almanac. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from <>

2Earth Easy. (2023). Backyard Vegetable Garden: Getting Started. Earth Easy. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from <>

3Gardener’s Supply Company. (2022, November 28). Vegetable Gardening for Beginners. Gardeners. Retrieved October 2, 2023, from <>

4Rutgers. (2023). Learn Landscaping. Rutgers University. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

5University of Arkansas System. (2023). Spring Planting Tips. University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

6Kansas State University. (2023, July 11). Backyard Garden: Herb Garden. K-State Research and Extension. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

7U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2023). USDA Organic. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

8U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2023). USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. USDA. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from <>

9Photo by nagjuha0. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

10Photo by planet_fox. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

11Photo by HansLinde. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>