Home Gardening: Growing Vegetables, Fruit and Edible Home Garden Plants

Kim Williamson, Author 8 Billion TreesWritten by Kim Williamson

Gardening | February 19, 2024

Person looks at a garden in their yard after reading a home gardening guide that explained how to build a home garden for growing vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and edible garden plants, and other types of home gardens to plant.

Home gardens are growing in popularity across the nation as food prices continue to rise, because home gardening is an excellent way to reduce your monthly expenses and improve your health.

Moreover, anyone can start growing vegetables and flowers at home, regardless of whether they have a large outdoor space or not.

Thanks to several home gardening options and ideas, such as container gardening, vertical gardening, community gardens and others, you don’t have to have much space, just a desire for homegrown veggies, fruits or flowers.

This complete home gardening guide outlines many of the practical ways you can grow plants indoors and out.

Home Gardening Basics: Beginner’s Guide to Gardening

There are a few home gardening basics that every beginning gardener can benefit from.

Graphics showing some tips for Home Gardening Basics.

Before starting a garden, an individual should take note of these things:

  • Location: Which area of the yard gets the most consistent sunlight through various times of day, particularly afternoon hours?
  • Zone: What gardening zone the residence is in (see USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps)71
  • Plants: Which plants grow well within that growing zone and how much sunlight do different plants need?
  • Proximity: The closer a garden is to the home, the easier it is to water and maintain.
  • Soil conditions: Note the condition of the soil. Is the texture sandy or clay-like? If so, the soil will likely need to be amended with more fertile, loamy soil and compost. Test soil samples through local extension offices (Ex. Jefferson County Extension Office).68
  • Complementary plants: Some plants pair better than others and choosing vegetables and herbs that grow well together can help the entire garden thrive.
  • Prepare to weed: Weeds are detrimental, particularly to young plants, so be prepared to weed a couple of hours each week to keep the vegetable garden healthy.
  • Start small: Remember container gardens? Those are a great place to start.
  • Choose the right plants: All plants aren’t created equal. Choose low-maintenance plants to get off to a great start.

This guide to gardening will have any homeowner on their way to home vegetable gardening in no time at all.9 For additional gardening advice beyond this article, access U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) resources.70

How To Start Organic Gardening

When the average person hears the word ‘organic,’ they probably think of clean food, free of pesticides, hormones, and so forth. Pesticide and chemical-free are certainly two of the main elements of organic gardening, but the concept is evolving to embrace new ideas, such as “no dig” gardening, aimed at preserving the integrity of the soil and microbiome and microfungi within it.22

An organic garden begins with organic seeds of native plants. Most organic gardens will rely heavily on compost and mulch and have their own composting systems.51

Thus, the first step to starting an organic garden is starting a backyard compost.

Other elements of organic gardening involve heavy mulching for weed prevention, insect and pest barriers, pollinator support, and seed collection and storage.2

Starting With Container Gardening

There are a great many reasons to begin a gardening journey with container gardening.

A balcony container garden with different plants in various types of pots.

(Image: W.carter88)

Here are a few of the reasons why container gardening is the perfect gardening for beginners:45

  • Container Gardening Is Easy

Container gardening is easier than any other type of garden because gardeners can start on a very small scale with just a small container or two and expand if and when they feel ready. This takes away the worry of over-committing to a larger garden.

Container gardens must be watered more often and fertilized regularly, but otherwise, they are very low maintenance, requiring minimal weeding.

  • Container Gardens Are Inexpensive

Containers of different sizes can be purchased for under $50. Furthermore, containers require less soil to fill and hold fewer plants.

All in all, there is a lesser financial commitment at the outset.

  • Container Gardens Are Versatile

One of the best parts of container gardening is that the containers can be easily rearranged to create different looks and effects. Many different plants can be grown in containers, and container plants can grow indoors or outdoors.

There are many options for container gardens.

  • Container Gardens Are Attractive

Containers can be colorful and decorative, in different styles and sizes. A collection of containers can create a beautiful display.

  • Container Gardens Are Contained

There are certain plants that a gardener may be hesitant to plant in their garden due to their tendency to spread or grow large and shade out neighboring plants. One example is mint:

It smells great, deters pests, has many culinary and medicinal uses, and spreads uncontrollably. Containers are perfect for these types of plants.37

  • Container Gardens Can Be Started at Any Time

An individual may be interested in growing small herbs and vegetables but not wish to wait until spring. Many vegetables and herbs can be started in containers indoors at any time of year, removing many of the barriers to year-round gardening.

5 Steps to Successful Apartment Gardening

Apartment gardening can be a lot of fun! Though space and options are somewhat limited with apartment living, it can be very rewarding and therapeutic to green an apartment space and bring it to life.

Facade of an apartment building with balconies that are filled with mini home gardens.

(Image: Jose – Nacho89)

Apartment gardening is also a good way to reduce CO2 levels in the room air within city areas that may have higher pollution levels. Here are 5 steps to start a successful apartment garden.

#1: Take Advantage of Shared Rooftop Gardens When Available

Shared rooftop gardens are incredible for so many reasons. They provide a dedicated space with optimal conditions for gardening.

They bring individuals with similar interests together which is also therapeutic. They get people outside in the open air and sunshine. Finally, they help reduce the CO2 in the air.

#2: Use Any Outdoor Space Available

Most vegetables, herbs, and fruit grow best in full sun conditions, or 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day. It can be hard for plants to get that much sunlight in an apartment.

Rooftops are ideal for sun exposure, but balconies and patios can be excellent options for many plants. Some windowsills can also work; hanging planters can be attractive as well.

Apartment units often only have one to two walls with windows. Pay attention to sun exposure through these windows to determine the best placement for indoor plants.

#3: Research

Find out how much sunlight various plants require and choose their locations accordingly.

#4: Get Creative

Natural conditions usually generate the best results, but there are ways to supplement with technology. Grow lights can be used to help meet a plant’s sunlight needs.

Hydroponic and aeroponic systems are also high-tech ways of growing edible plants in an indoor space. Think about growing vertically to optimize space.

#5: Prioritize

There won’t be enough space to grow every vegetable, fruit, and herb, so select a few favorites to nurture and see how they do.34

What Are Tower Gardens and How Do They Work?

People continue to find and invent new ways to do old things, which is great news for everyone living an increasingly hectic life. Tower gardens are one example of how technology is making home vegetable gardening “doable.”

Tower gardens are vertical growing systems, hence the “tower,” which rely on aeroponic technology to nourish plants. Aeroponics is one of the 6 types of hydroponic systems.

Like other vertical planters, the tower garden allows gardeners to grow many different plants in a small amount of space. The tower garden differs from many other vertical planters as it does not require soil to feed the plants.

Aeroponic tower gardens at O'Hare International Airport.

(Image: Mx. Granger90)

In aeroponic systems, plants are grown up along the tower column, and each plant’s roots are suspended above nutrient-rich water and are fed through regular misting. This differs from other hydroponic systems where the roots are actually growing in the water.3

  • Advantages of Tower Gardening

There are many advantages to a tower garden. It requires significantly less space, soil, and water than traditional gardens. Plants tend to grow faster and produce more with aeroponics.

It can be used indoors. It is unlikely to be plagued by weeds. It is easy to use, which makes it easier for families to grow healthy and eat healthy.41

  • Disadvantages of Tower Gardening

Aeroponic systems can be expensive to get up and running. They require continual pH monitoring to ensure water conditions are conducive to vegetable growing.

Additionally, the system should be cleaned at intervals to eliminate harmful bacteria and fungi. Requires electricity to operate.19

Best Advice for Balancing Home and Garden

Sometimes life can feel a bit overwhelming, and even things that are meant to provide relief and joy, such as gardening, can begin to feel burdensome. But home gardens are more important now than they have ever been before, so how can homeowners balance home and garden for long-term sustainability?

Here are some advice from the gardening world:

Design for Efficiency

An efficient garden design can mean different things to different people, but there are some things that hold true.

  • Proximity: A garden that is closer to home and readily visible is much more likely to receive regular attention and yield better results.
  • Weed Prevention: Never underestimate the value of weed prevention. A layer of weed cloth or landscape fabric can save a lot of headaches down the road.
    Don’t forget to mulch!
  • Irrigation: Aside from the weeds, watering a garden is probably the task that can become the most chore-like for gardeners. Soaker hoses can be laid between plant rows or buried under mulch and set on a timer to water the garden.
  • Plant Pairing: Bear in mind which plants grow well together and which do not, and avoid wasting time and energy nurturing plants that will be shaded out by their faster-growing counterparts in a few week’s time.6

Learn To Love Low-Maintenance Plants

Some plants are just easier to grow and take care of. What kinds of plants are low maintenance?

  • Native: Native plants are typically best suited to the local climate and soil and most resistant to native plant disease. This is why native plants require less upkeep than others.
  • Perennials: There are some edible plants that actually come back from year to year, reducing the need to continually replant and regrow.
  • Root vegetables: Root vegetables are often very low maintenance, requiring minimal pruning and, in many cases, even minimal watering.

Don’t Overdo It

Dream big…but plant small, at least starting out. It can be tempting to try and dive right into that ideal garden, but incremental, measured additions are usually best.

Top shot of a table with some gardening tools and a person's hands tending to a potted plant.

(Image: cottonbro studio91)

Consider starting with a few containers or a single garden bed or planter for the first season. Gradually add on from season to season if desired.

Weed Daily

It is much easier to pull tiny weeds for 10 minutes a day than it is to pull large, deep-rooted weeds for four hours on a weekend. Even when there aren’t any weeds to be pulled, stay in the habit of working in the garden at least 10 minutes each day.

Also, learn how to identify weeds by photo so that pesky weeds can be eliminated sooner. This will save time in the long run.

Home Gardening Tips for Veteran Gardeners

This article isn’t just for beginning gardeners. There are plenty of people who have been happily gardening for years and are looking for ways to up their gardening game or even shift it to try something new.

Perhaps after years of developing and tending a home garden, these experienced gardeners are looking for ways to manage their gardens a bit more efficiently.

This section includes home gardening tips for veteran gardeners too. Here are some ideas to try:

1. Watering Plants

Water conservation is increasingly in the forefront of gardeners’ minds, as traditional garden watering methods can waste a lot of water.

Water being sprinkled on plants from a watering can.

(Image: Karolina Grabowska92)

But what are the best ways to conserve water in the garden?

  • Grow plants suitable to the climate and rainfall averages. In other words, don’t try to grow tropical plants in a desert.
  • This is an extreme example, but it can be applied more broadly. Choose local plants that are well-adapted to the temperatures and soil conditions.
  • Bolster the garden with compost and blanket it with mulch. The compost will help feed the plants, reducing their water consumption needs, and the mulch will help retain moisture, reducing evaporation waste.
  • Install soaker hoses or drip irrigation beneath the mulch. This may make more work for gardeners at the outset, but it saves time and water in the long run.
    This type of watering system saturates the roots, reducing evaporation and run-off.
  • Weed the garden. Weeds are notoriously thirsty and will gladly take in all the water intended for those garden plants.
  • Collect rainwater. Add a couple of rain barrels beneath gutter downspouts.
    Connect those soaker hoses to the rain barrels, and take water conservation to a new level.52

2. Weed Control

Long-time gardeners are the best at managing weed problems. They know that it’s imperative to impede weed growth from the start and pull weeds regularly to prevent them from taking over.

But life still happens.

People go on vacation. People get sick.

The skies decide to rain for days on end. Then…weeds happen.

Experienced gardeners return to their beloved havens to find them completely overrun with weeds. While a hand towel can be a gardener’s best friend in these situations, it also means a lot of work.

That’s when gardeners can turn to other methods, like an organic weed killer recipe.

3. Managing Pests

Garden pests can take a lot of the fun out of gardening, particularly when food crops are impacted. There are a few ways to manage pests discussed here:37,58

  • Prevention: Many plant varieties are bred to be pest-resistant. Do the research and buy plant seeds that are resistant to pests in the area.
  • Plant smart: Don’t plant vegetables that attract the same pests near one another.
  • Containers: Grow plants that are especially vulnerable in containers away from the rest of the garden.
  • Helpful insects: Grow flowers near and throughout the garden that attract ladybugs and other beneficial insects.
  • Plant herbs: The smell of mint, rosemary, chives, and basil will deter many pests.
  • Larger pests: While snakes can get rid of many unwanted garden critters, most people won’t like to stumble upon them while gardening. There are some methods for how to get rid of garden snakes (home remedies) that don’t require animal control or harsh chemicals.30
    • Begin by eliminating standing water and dark and damp places where snakes shelter.
    • Build a smoky fire to repel snakes.
    • Spray a mixture of cloves and cinnamon oil onto the snakes.
    • Mix onions and garlic with rock salt and spread it around the garden to repel snakes.
    • Pour vinegar around any watering areas attracting snakes.

4. Vertical Gardening

Many experienced gardeners rely on traditional gardening techniques such as row gardens and garden beds. While these methods are tried and true, they are not necessarily the most efficient. In fact, vertical gardens can save on space, soil, water, and physical labor.

Rows of hanging planters with different flowering plants at a vertical garden.

(Image: Jaysin Trevino93)

Vertical garden planters can be placed outdoors, along fence lines, on balconies and patios, or even indoors. They are attractive, can be made at home, have less pest and weed issues, and are easy to access.

Veteran gardeners may also want to try new hydroponic or aeroponic technologies.

Adding an aeroponic tower filled with the most regularly consumed vegetables, fruits and herbs can greatly reduce the workload of a kitchen garden, allowing a gardener more time to play in their outdoor space.

5. Composting

The idea of composting is not attractive to many people, but composting is a great way to fight climate change. Not to mention that compost is one of the best things to add to a backyard vegetable garden.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers excellent guidance for composting at home.72 Learn how to compost at home for gardening to make the process easier.

  • Compost bins and tumblers can make composting cleaner.
  • Eat leftovers to reduce food waste.
  • Take note of what should be composted and what should not.
  • Be mindful of the balance of greens (food waste) and browns (dried leaves, cardboard, wood chips) for decomposition. A 1:3 ratio of greens to browns is ideal.
  • Turn regularly for aeration.

6. Gardening Tools

Most gardeners have their favorite tools, the ones they’ve used through the years and learned to wield efficiently. Over time, gardening tools rust and break down.

Replacing those old tools with newer, stronger, and sharper gardening tools can cut down maintenance time in the garden.

7. Seed Storage

Buying seeds and seedlings for the garden is undeniably cheaper than purchasing produce from the supermarket throughout the growing season. However, the process can be made even more efficient when gardeners save unused seed or collect and store their own seeds.

Gardening experts have great advice for seed storage (See SDSU Seed Storage Tips), and these are the big ones:73

  • Collect the seeds by removing flower heads after they die.
  • Let the seeds dry completely before storing them.
  • Store seeds in sealed containers (tupperware or bags).
  • Store seeds indoors in cool, dry areas. Refrigerate to extend the seeds’ viability.

8. Growing Wild

Many experienced gardeners pride themselves on having an immaculate and well-kept garden. This makes for a beautiful backyard space that feels clean and controlled.

Yet, more people are embracing the concept of “rewilding,” or allowing nature to control certain areas of the garden.

While a vegetable patch needs to be weeded and maintained, gardeners may find relief in designating more distal areas of their property as wild spaces that require less interference.

9. Adding Plants With Health Benefits

An edible garden does not need to be all edible. Balancing edible plants with plants that have medicinal uses can make for a great garden system.

Spider plants and lavender can improve sleep.62 Aloe vera is a great indoor/outdoor growing option for burns and skin ailments.

Mint is great for stomach issues, echinacea for immunity, and lemon balm for a whole plethora of issues. These are just a few of the medicinal plants that should be featured in a home garden, and many of these have culinary uses, too!24

10. Sustainable Landscapes

Recent gardening trends are moving towards creating sustainable, eco-friendly landscapes, but what does this mean? A sustainable landscape involves many of the previous points, such as water conservation, composting, wild spaces, and so forth.

A person's hands planting a seeding into the soil.

(Image: Karolina Grabowska94)

Sustainable landscaping also takes advantage of native plants to support local ecosystems. An eco-friendly landscape is all about balance, creating a place where pollinators can thrive and continually feed the backyard garden.

There are no limits to what a person can do with their landscaping; it just depends on what they want to achieve.

Must-Have Gardening Supplies for Every Home Garden

Everyone has their own approach to gardening, and most people have their go-to gardening tools as well. To keep a home garden running smoothly and efficiently, there are certain gardening supplies every gardener should have.

Graphics showing images of must-have gardening supplies for home gardens such as apron, garden rake, gloves, hand trowel, plant support, pruning shears, shovel, soaker hose, watering can, and wheelbarrow.

Here are the top picks:37,67

  • Apron: To carry around all the smaller garden tools, bulbs, plants, and seed packets.18
  • Garden Rake: Use a garden rake to spread soil and mulch and rake up debris.
  • Gloves: Even gardeners who like to get their hands dirty will want a pair of gloves when dealing with pesky weeds.
  • Hand Trowel: Use it to dig holes for planting and dig up weeds.
  • Plant Supports: Tall plants often require stakes. Other plants may require additional support such as trellises or cages.
  • Pruning Shears: Prune plants and cut back woody weeds.
  • Shovel: Use it to work up hard soil, dig large holes, and turn the compost heap.
  • Soaker Hose: For row gardens and raised beds. Streamline the watering process.
  • Watering Can: For indoor containers and solitary plants out of reach of the garden hose.
  • Wheelbarrow: Great for heavy lifting.

Most Efficient Garden Watering Systems

If efficiency is measured by the amount of water used, hydroponic and aeroponic systems would be considered the most efficient. Because these advanced systems operate in a closed loop, they retain and reuse water, reducing waste.

Where outdoor home gardens are concerned, gardening experts agree that the most efficient garden watering systems are those that concentrate on the plant base, saturating plant roots. Soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems buried beneath the surface mulch are recommended.

Soaker hoses emit water from hundreds of small openings. The water is low-pressure and slowly released which means it won’t disrupt the soil or damage the plants.

It prevents the leaves from getting wet and subsequently scorched or diseased. Drip irrigation operates on a similar premise, but the systems are typically built for larger garden spaces.

Take the soaker hose or irrigation system to the next level by attaching them to rain barrel collectors.48

Home gardening can be an incredibly satisfying venture, allowing an individual to experience the pride of feeding themselves, their family, and the earth. Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs at home does not have to be a chore.

In fact, kitchen gardens have various health benefits and can provide stress relief in the busy lives of the average American.

Choosing the Right Type of Home Garden

A successful home garden starts at the most basic level of determining the right type of garden. To do this, a person must consider a few important factors:

Gardening Goals

A gardener’s personal goals for their home garden are the most important determinants of garden type. If the gardener is looking to start small and get their feet wet or nurture a few herbs indoors/outdoors, then container gardening is probably a great fit.

Rows of potted plants inside a greenhouse.

(Image: Tima Miroshnichenko81)

Someone who wants to grow more of their kitchen edibles at home may profit more from a combined indoor container/outdoor bed layout where they can nurture seasonal vegetables while also tending lower maintenance herbs year-round indoors.

In contrast, some gardeners may be looking to transform their indoor and outdoor space to create an edible landscape full of life.

The gardener’s goals should and will inform every decision they make about the layout, design, and composition of their home garden.

Available Space

An apartment garden will necessarily look much different than an estate garden.

The primary factor here is space. An individual living in a smaller space may opt for a less traditional garden design, such as a wall garden, window gardens, or vertical planters.

Meanwhile, an individual with acres of land may envision transforming their property into an ecological haven.

Available Time

Few things are more frustrating than investing hours and hours of time to develop a garden before realizing there is not enough time to maintain it and feeling forced to watch it become overgrown with weeds.

Before committing to a particular garden dynamic, a gardener should consider how much time they are able and want to commit to gardening and figure out a rough estimate of how much time their desired layout will require.


The primary gardener’s mobility should always be considered when choosing a garden design.

A person's hands harvesting lettuce and other produce from a backyard vegetable garden.

(Image: Kampus Production82)

For example, an individual who is independent in a wheelchair can more easily reach raised beds and vertical planters than in-ground beds and rows.

Also, consider proximity to the kitchen and ease of access for individuals with various limitations.

7 Garden Varieties for Every Home

There are many different options for people who want to develop a garden at home.

The primary focus of this article is the exploration of growing edible plants in a home garden, but this section briefly touches upon all sorts of home garden varieties, such as the following:

1. Flower Gardening

Flower gardens have adorned homes, estates, and palaces for centuries, adding color and fragrance to bring the property to life.

The idea of the flower garden has evolved through the years, shifting from formal, manicured gardens to more open, wildflower gardens to isolated flower beds dedicated to growing specific flowering plants.21

A gardener with a ladder in the middle of a flower garden.

(Image: David Brown74)

Some of the most popular flower garden types today are:

  • Cut Flower Gardens: A garden where flowers are grown to be cut and displayed indoors.
  • Wildflower Gardens: A garden where a more natural look is embraced, encouraging the growth of native plants.
  • Perennial Gardens: A garden where various flowers may be planted to recur in specific seasons each year, becoming part of the landscape.
  • Pollinator Gardens: A garden dedicated to attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies to support local ecosystems.
  • Succulent Gardens: A garden where plants requiring little water and drier soil can be grown outdoors.
A person's hands carrying a basketful of vegetables from the garden.

(Image: Kampus Production75)

2. Fruit and Vegetable Gardening

Fruit and vegetable gardening are essential for a self-sufficient home and kitchen. The scale of such a venture depends on the family’s needs and goals.

There are many options for growing food at home.

  • Container Gardens: Container gardening will be revisited throughout this article. It is a versatile way to grow a variety of small and medium-sized plants year-round.
    Grow herbs and greens in smaller containers and strawberries, blueberries, and cherry tomatoes in larger containers.
  • Greenhouse Gardens: This is a great option for serious, committed gardeners who want to cultivate a variety of food crops throughout the year. However, greenhouses require an up-front investment as well as space, time, money, and labor to maintain.29
  • Kitchen Gardens: The term ‘kitchen garden’ refers to a small, specialized garden, typically accessible from the kitchen, where everyday vegetables and herbs may be grown. Kitchen gardens are much smaller than how most people envision vegetable gardens, and they are often grown in raised beds.13
  • Orchard Gardens: This type of garden focuses on nurturing fruit and nut trees. A garden space can be dedicated to this type of plant or the trees may be interspersed in a larger garden layout.
  • Raised Gardens: A raised garden bed is an attractive way to grow many types of edible plants such as herbs, vegetables, and fruit. Raised beds can create a neater appearance while keeping plants organized and more accessible.
  • Row Gardens: Row gardening, sowing plants directly into the ground is probably the best method for larger-scale vegetable farming. With this layout, a gardener is free to grow a larger variety and quantity of desired edible plants.

3. Herb Gardening

Herb gardens are very useful to have around the home, as herbs are relatively easy to grow and can be used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Herbs can be grown at home in outdoor beds, indoor or outdoor containers, window gardens, and indoor gardening systems.55

Angled shot of a herb garden with plants on raised beds.

(Image: Jack Ketcham76)

Herbal plants will be revisited throughout this article, but here are a few herb garden types.

  • Aromatic Gardens: Many herbs like lavender, mint, and sage have fragrant oils in their leaves and stems, the scents of which are reputed for their therapeutic benefits.
  • Cooking Herb Garden: Some of those same herbs can be used for cooking. The most popular herbs found in a kitchen garden are basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Herbal Tea Garden: The art of tea drinking is deeply rooted in many cultures and religions. An herbal tea garden features herbs that are used to make tea, like chamomile, peppermint, bergamot, and lemon balm.4
  • Medicinal Gardens: A medicinal garden may include types of herbs that an individual might cook with or use in teas as well as other herbs, such as motherwort, echinacea, aloe, and ginseng.
Plants in different sizes and types of pots for indoor gardening.

(Image: Huy Phan77)

4. Indoor Gardening

Indoor gardening systems are becoming increasingly popular as technology makes them more viable alternatives to greenhouse growing.

Many of the obstacles to indoor gardening, the mess, the smell, the moisture, are removed through modern technology, and more people are embracing indoor green space as part of their daily lives.57

Here are a few ways that indoor gardening is gaining traction.

  • Container Gardens: In the more traditional method of container gardening, desired plants are grown in soil-based containers which can be moved around to optimize sun exposure, watered as needed, and supplemented with fertilizer and compost when desired.56
  • Wall Gardens: Vertical gardening is a great way to maximize the use of limited space, and the method can be used indoors and outdoors, in urban or rural settings. Wall gardens can be a fun DIY project to design and build, and they are ideal for growing smaller edibles.35
  • Hydroponic Gardens: These modern systems make indoor gardening easy and manageable. Hydroponic home gardens rely on a nutrient-enriched liquid substrate to grow plants in the absence of soil where plants can grow larger, faster, and with less mess and labor.

5. Landscape Gardening

Landscape gardening can serve various functions, and these gardens are known for their intentional designs, aesthetic appeal, and environmental value. Some notable landscape garden varieties are:

A landscaped lawn and garden with a pathway leading to the house.

(Image: Inspector78)

  • Bamboo Gardens: Bamboo is an easy way to transform a backyard landscape, creating layers of shade. This non-native plant is fast-growing and low-maintenance.
  • Knot Gardens: Knot gardens have been used for hundreds of years to organize edible and medicinal plants in a visually appealing way. Knot gardens typically follow a formal, symmetrical design with low-lying borders.40
  • Rain Gardens: Rain gardens are a way to use the natural lay of the land more efficiently. Rain gardens are designed to take advantage of declivities or depressions in the land which collect water, conserving resources over time.49
  • Tropical Gardens: This type of garden is dedicated to nurturing tropical plants that require high moisture levels and regular fertilizer. This type of garden is labor-intensive to maintain.53
  • Water Gardens: This type of landscape gardening is fairly self-explanatory, centering around shallow water sources and plants that grow near them. Water gardens may feature fish ponds, streams, and pools with aquatic and semi-aquatic plants.
  • Xeriscaped Gardens: Xeriscaping is a great choice for climates that have prolonged dry periods. Xeriscaped gardens feature desert plants that do not require irrigation.
A meditation garden with various trees and shrubs.

(Image: Amaury.gravy79)

6. Therapy Gardening

Therapy gardens are designed in a way that makes them accessible for individuals in need, harnessing the natural properties of plants to improve physical and psychological well-being.55

There are many kinds of therapy gardens and a lot of overlap between them, but these types are a few of the most prominent.

  • Healing Gardens: The term ‘healing garden’ may be used interchangeably with ‘therapy garden’ sometimes. A healing garden may encompass various therapeutic elements, such as quiet spaces, sense stimulation, physical gardening spaces, and walking paths.31
  • Meditation Gardens: Meditation gardens, sometimes referred to as zen gardens, have their origins in the Buddhist religion. They are personal, quiet spaces, designed to facilitate contemplative and mindful practice.
    The elements of a meditation garden vary by individual but often include plants, stones, and water.64
  • Sensory Gardens: Sensory gardens are built around the 5 senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. The elements geared towards each sense may be blended into a whole or separated into different sections.32

7. Wildlife Gardening

Wildlife gardening is aimed at attracting and supporting various forms of animal life, particularly bees, birds, and butterflies, though they are also likely to attract other insects, small mammals such as rabbits and squirrels, and amphibians when there is a water source.

Close-up of a butterfly pollinating a flower at a butterfly garden.

(Image: likeaduck80)

A balanced wildlife garden will feature an array of native soil and plants that serve as a source of food and shelter for wildlife. In contrast to uniform, tidy flower beds, wildlife gardens are wilder, more natural, and unkempt, with larger groupings of plant life.36

  • Bee Gardens: The value of bees for gardening and agriculture is finally being truly recognized, and more gardeners are looking for ways to support colonies of bees. Bee gardens are filled with colorful flowering plants loved by bees (Ex. lavender, wisteria, etc), various water sources, and weedy plants such as dandelion and clover.47
  • Bird Gardens: Bird gardens may feature a variety of specialized bird feeders to attract local avian species. Shrubs, trees, and hedges provide good shelter for birds, and gardeners may also add nesting boxes or birdhouses to their gardens.
    A water source, such as a bird bath, is another critical component.36
  • Butterfly Gardens: Butterflies are also important pollinators. A butterfly garden should be a balance of nectar plants (asters, milkweed, petunias, etc.) which adult butterflies need and the food plants (asters, butterfly weed, sweet peas, etc.) which caterpillars need.33
    The butterfly garden should feature flowers of differing heights, sheltering areas, and shallow water sources.42

Vegetables To Grow in a Backyard Garden (Backyard Vegetable Gardens)

Backyard vegetable gardens can be incredibly fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. Many people enjoy the pride of growing and nurturing plants with their own hands, helping their family, friends, and planet along the way.

While any backyard garden can be beneficial and therapeutic, vegetable gardening is likely the most life-changing.

But which vegetables should be grown in a kitchen garden? A gardener should consider three factors when answering this question:

  1. What vegetables does the family like and eat regularly?
  2. What vegetables grow well in the area?
  3. What vegetables are the easiest to grow in the available space?

After answering those three questions, browse this list of 16 of the absolute best vegetables to grow and build a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle.8,17

VegetableAdvantages of Growing
AsparagusPerennial; low-maintenance; tastes great raw or cooked
BeetsLow-maintenance; edible roots and leaves
Bell PeppersGreat for hot weather
BroccoliGood cool weather crop
CarrotsGrow in sandy soil and cool weather; easy to grow
CucumbersVery productive crop
GarlicExtremely easy to grow; natural pest deterrent
Green BeansTolerate poor soil; nitrogen fixers
KaleHardy; healthy; grows in cool weather
LettuceEasy to grow; multiple harvests from a single plant
OnionsLow-maintenance; natural pest repellent
PeasCool-weather crop; plant a warm-weather crop in the same location after
PotatoesVersatile vegetable and kitchen staple; low maintenance
SpinachCool-weather crop; pick as needed
TomatoesPlant cherry tomatoes for better yield and lesser maintenance
ZucchiniRobust plant with high yield

Which Garden Vegetables Grow Well Together?

Understanding which garden vegetables grow well together is critical, as a bad pairing can be detrimental to both plants. For example, it would be less than ideal to grow broccoli and tomatoes in close proximity as they compete for the same nutrients and are both hungry plants.

Always research plant pairings before sowing seeds. Here are a few popular garden vegetables with their ideal vegetable pairings.39

VegetableIdeally Paired With
AsparagusEggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes38
BroccoliBeets, Celery, Onions, Potatoes, Radishes, Spinach25
CarrotsGreen beans, Lettuce, Peas, Peppers, Tomatoes
Green beansBeets, Carrots, Cabbage, Cucumbers, Radishes
LettuceBroccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Onions, Potatoes, Radishes
OnionsCabbage, Carrots, Lettuce, Peppers, Tomatoes
PeppersCarrots, Onions, Tomatoes
PotatoesCelery, Corn, Green Beans, Lettuce, Onions, Peas, Spinach
SpinachBroccoli, Potatoes, Radishes, Zucchini
TomatoesAsparagus, Carrots, Celery, Onions, Peppers
ZucchiniCorn, Green beans, Peas, Radishes, Spinach

How Do Gardening Zones Impact Vegetable Growing?

Getting familiar with gardening zones can save gardeners a load of headaches down the road, as some vegetables are simply not able to thrive in the coldest and hottest zones.

Identify the gardening zone using the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps. There are 13 gardening zones, from the coldest at Zone 1 to the tropical Zone 13.

Each gardening zone is divided into subzones ‘a’ and ‘b’. The continental U.S. spans from Zones 3 to 10.

Garden vegetables will tolerate most of these zones, but planting times and procedures differ in different zones. In other words, how and when a gardener grows their vegetables will be affected by the zone they live in.

Here is an example: Tomatoes, which are considered a warm weather crop, do not produce in extreme cold or hot temperatures.

Thus, in subtropical zone 9, tomatoes act as biennials, with planting times in the late winter (January through March) and late summer (August through September) and harvest times in the spring (April and March) and fall (October and November).

Whereas, in the much cooler zone 3, tomatoes will need to be started indoors in mid-spring (April) and transplanted in mid-summer (June to July) for a short August harvest.59

Local Cooperative Extension Offices (Ex. University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service) can advise local residents on when and what to plant.69

The Best Edible Things To Grow in a Garden Besides Vegetables

There are lots of edible things to grow in a garden that aren’t vegetables. And some home garden plants are not even edible at all.

Continue reading to learn about all the edible things a gardener can grow at home!

Perennial Herbs in the Garden

Perennial herbs are a great addition to any garden; they aren’t only beautiful but also aromatic.

Graphics showing examples of perennial herbs that can be grown in a home garden such as chives, lemon balm. mint, sage, and oregano.

Here are some of the best ones you could plant for a backyard garden:66

  • Chives
  • Echinacea
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme

Many of these have natural pest-deterrent capabilities and medicinal uses, as well. Pair these herbs with vegetative plants for the best effect (except for mint, which should be kept contained and isolated).

Annual Herbs in the Garden

Annual herbs are also important in the garden, and many beloved herbs are of the annual variety.

Examples of annual herbs that can be grown in a home garden such as basil, cilantro, parsley, dill, and stevia.

Here are some of the best ones you can add to yours:12

  • Basil
  • Bay Laurel
  • Calendula
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • German Chamomile
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Stevia

Note that many herbs that are considered annuals can be grown as perennials in hotter climates or may winter indoors until springtime.

Herbaceous Fruit Plants in the Garden

Fruit plants are much less commonly seen in kitchen gardens than vegetable plants are. This is partly because many fruits grow on trees which require more space.

However, the vast majority of fruits purchased at the supermarket can be grown in any backyard garden in the U.S.

Herbaceous fruit plants that can be grown in a home garden like blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, strawberry, and groundcherry.

The easiest fruits to start with are:27

  • Blackberries: Grow along a fence or trellis in full sun
  • Blueberries: Bush habit; grow in full sun; slow to reach maturity; very low maintenance26
  • Raspberries: Grow along a fence or trellis in part shade
  • Strawberries: Grow in a pot, planter, or vertical tower in full sun

Note that fruit trees such as Apple trees, Peach trees, and Cherry trees can be grown in containers. They are easy to maintain and excellent for pollinators.

Nut Trees in the Garden

Many people are hesitant to grow nuts because the trees take so long to mature and produce a good harvest (10 to 15 years).50 Yet, nut trees are a great way to supply protein for a home-grown diet, so purchase a large sapling from a nearby nursery and shorten the wait.

Nut trees that can be grown in a home garden such as almond, chestnut, hazelnut, pine nut, and walnut.

Some nut trees require very warm growing zones, but there are several options that can be grown in most of the continental U.S. These include different varieties of:60

  • Almonds
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnut
  • Hickory
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts

Note that there are native and non-native varieties of many of the above nut trees.

Mushrooms in the Garden

Remember the non-plant food that can be grown at home?

Well, this is it! Mushrooms.

As a fungus, mushrooms do not fall under the plant family. However, they are still a nutritive and delicious part of many people’s diets.

And while they can be grown in a backyard garden, they are actually easier to grow indoors!

Mushrooms that can be added to a home garden such as button mushrooms, morel mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, shiitaket mushrooms, and turkey tail mushrooms.

Growing mushrooms is a whole different process than growing herbaceous plants, and there are many online guides for beginning mushroom gardeners.10 Starting out, these are the best mushrooms to grow:23

  • Button Mushrooms
  • Elm Oyster Mushrooms
  • Enokitake Mushrooms
  • King Stropharia Mushrooms
  • Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
  • Morel Mushrooms
  • Pearl Oyster Mushrooms
  • Pioppino Mushrooms
  • Reishi Mushrooms
  • Shitake Mushrooms
  • Turkey Tail Mushrooms

Tips for How To Build a Garden

Learning how to build a garden can be the most intimidating aspect of home gardening for many people, but it doesn’t have to be!

DIY garden ideas are all over the internet, so gardeners can get as creative as they want or keep it simple and straightforward. Container gardening is a great choice for a no-build garden, but DIYers may find joy in designing their container garden!

This section discusses the process of physically building the garden infrastructure of three popular varieties: Container gardens, Raised garden beds, and Garden planters.

Building Container Gardens

Building container gardens is probably the easiest option for individuals just starting out, as these can easily be scaled up or down at any point in time to fit the gardener’s needs or preferences.

Plants in different types and shapes of containers.

(Image: Richard Masoner83)

Part of the beauty of container gardening is that containers can be repurposed from other sources or even purchased at a reasonable price.

Here are a few tips for building a container garden:54

  • Look for vessels that can be repurposed as containers. Some examples may include baskets, old tires, wine boxes, buckets, watering cans, cinder blocks, whiskey barrels, and even wagons.
  • When growing plants for food, be careful repurposing and avoid PVC plastics, containers that have been in contact with chemicals, and those containing lead or asbestos.63
  • Choose containers of different sizes to create depth and balance. Plan where the different garden containers will go, and remember that large containers are very heavy once the soil is added.
  • Ensure each container has adequate drainage holes. At this point, the structural aspect of the container garden is determined, and the gardener need only add their soil and choose their plants.

Building a Raised Garden Bed

There are various reasons why a person may want to build a raised garden bed.

Raised garden beds have clearly defined boundaries and greater aesthetic appeal than row gardens. Additionally, a raised bed is an excellent way to work around tilling up the hard, packed soil of a yard, since a raised bed will typically be filled with loose soil.

Many backyard gardeners have constructed their raised beds out of concrete blocks,16 a relatively inexpensive method, which can also be lovely when the blocks are turned on their sides and filled with dirt to allow for the planting of small flowers.

Vegetables planted in raised garden beds.

(Image: OakleyOriginals84)

However, this method is not necessarily advisable when growing food crops, as concrete blocks may contain harmful components (Ex. fly ash) that can leach into garden soil and contaminate plants.15

The more commonly accepted raised bed is constructed of wood. While not quite as durable as a concrete or brick bed, a properly constructed wooden bed can last several years while offering peace of mind that the soil is free of contaminants.

These are the steps for constructing a raised garden bed from wood:7

#1: Choose the Area for the Raised Bed

Most vegetables prefer lots of sunshine, so select an area that gets morning and afternoon sun. Also, consider that flat areas of the yard are easier to build on and will require less prep work.

#2: Plan the Garden

After determining where the garden bed/s will be and how much space there is to work with, plan the layout of the garden. Consider which plants grow best in the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone and which vegetables and herbs grow well together.71

This is the time to determine whether a single larger bed or multiple small beds is most suited to the garden’s needs.

#3: Decide the Size of the Raised Bed

Some gardeners may elect to build small, 4 x 4 square beds for individual food plants. Others may prefer a larger, 4 x 8 rectangular design with multiple complementary food crops.

Avoid making the bed wider than 4 feet so that all areas of the bed can be accessed easily. Determine how many beds and how large they will be.

#4: Prepare the Area

How the garden area is prepared can depend upon the gardener’s specific style. Many gardeners prefer a “less is more” approach and leave the ground undisturbed beneath the bed while others prefer to remove the upper layer of grass and soil before building the bed.

Here is what to consider.

Lots of plants do just fine without turning or tilling the ground under the raised bed, but many plants, like carrots, squash, and peppers prefer soil depths in the 12 to 18-inch range. If the ground is very hard or has unfavorable soil, a gardener may choose to work the ground beneath the bed or build the bed higher to add extra soil depth.

In average soil, this should not be required. To prepare the area, mow the grass close.

  • For dense, compact soil: Use a shovel or hoe to work up the top layer of ground, removing weeds and roots. Remove rocks and sticks. Mix 25% compost into the soil to a depth of 10 inches.
  • For average soil: Layer the area with cardboard to kill weeds and grass. Cover the cardboard with thick compost and organic matter.7

#5: Buy the Wood for the Beds

Many types of wood can be used for garden beds, from railroad ties to pallets, but the standard for constructing raised beds is untreated lumber.

More expensive lumber, such as cedar or locust, are more durable and long-lasting than the less expensive pine wood. Thicker boards last longer, and 2”W x 6”H x 8’L boards typically fit the bill.

A rectangular wooden raised bed for gardening.

(Image: Oregon State University85)

The wood can be pre-cut at the lumber yard or store to shorten 8 ft. boards to 4 ft. if desired. Boards that are 2” x 8” or 2” by 10” can also be used if desired, but a wider board will not be quite as sturdy, so plan accordingly.

Single-layered beds will be approximately 6” to 10” high. Gardeners that want deeper or higher beds will need to stack an additional layer. In other words, stack two 6” boards to get a depth of 12” or two 10” boards for a depth of 20”.

Remember to buy twice as many boards for deeper beds.

#6: Buy Additional Materials

The frame of the raised bed will require support. While metal brackets can be used, many gardeners prefer to use untreated 2” x 4”  or 4” x 4” lumber to brace the frame.

Buy enough lumber to divide into four equal increments at the desired length, for each bed.

For example, when building a 12” deep raised bed, a gardener will need four wood segments of 12”, for a total of 48”. The bracing wood can be higher than the frame of the raised bed, but it should not be much shorter.

Don’t forget to buy decking screws!

#7: Gather Necessary Tools

Assuming the lumber was pre-cut at the lumber yard, the only tool required is a power drill with drill bits. Ensure there is a drill bit slightly smaller than the screws being used.

#8: Build the Bed

Building the bed itself is very simple.

Use the drill bit to pre-drill holes at the ends of the framing boards. Drill two holes on 6” boards and three holes on 10 or 12” boards.

Start the screws. Turn the boards onto their 2” side and bring the corners to meet so that one board fits inside the other.

Fit the 2 x 4 or 4 x 4 brace snugly into the inner corner of the two boards. Screw in one board first and then another. Repeat with the other three corners.

This part is easier with an extra set of hands to help hold the various parts tightly in place!

#9: Fill the Bed

The bed is now built and ready for soil. Note that a taller bed requires more soil to fill.

Use a fertile soil full of nutrients to fill the raised bed. Fill it to the top and supplement it with compost as the soil settles.

#10: Plant!

Obtain seeds or seedlings for desired food crops and plant them! Be mindful of recommended planting times and spacing and water well!

Building Home Garden Planters

Raised garden beds and garden planters are sometimes confused, and indeed, the taller a raised garden bed is, the more it begins to look like a garden planter.

Yet, there is one important, differentiating characteristic! Garden planters have a solid bottom panel.20

While this may seem to be of little consequence, it changes the process of building the garden significantly.

A garden planter box filled with different plants.

(Image: Ofer El-Hashahar86)

Planter boxes are often less uniform and more decorative than garden beds. They are also often smaller, taller, and raised off the ground.

There is no single prescribed formula for their construction, but these are the steps any gardener can follow to build a simple garden planter:14

#1: Decide Where the Garden Planter/s Will Go

Knowing that the garden plants will want lots of sunlight, choose a sunny, flat area for their location. Planters are often placed on decks, balconies, and porches.

Be aware of available space when planning.

#2: Determine the Size of the Planter Boxes

One of the perks of using planter boxes is that they are more versatile in terms of where they can be placed. But this only works if they are small enough to be moved.

While stationary garden planters can be as big as the person wishes, opt for smaller planters (2 x 4 ft.; 2 x 3 ft., etc.) for ease of movement.

#3: Choose a Design for the Planters

Begin this step by determining how high the planter should be. Planters at standing height are often built on legs to lift them off of the ground.

While this might complicate the design and construction steps a bit, the end effect is worth it, as elevated planters are more accessible for gardeners, less weedy, and more protected from small critters.

There are two primary ways of building a planter with legs: building the planter box around post-type legs or attaching the box to v-shaped legs.11 Building a post-leg box is a bit simpler but v-shaped legs are lighter and more attractive.

The steps from this point forward will provide guidance for the V-leg planter

#4: Purchase the Wood and Materials

Cedar wood is a favorite for planter boxes due to its durability and pest deterrent characteristics as well as its beauty. For lumber, plan to use 1” x 6” by 8’ boards cut into segments.

Three boards can make the frame for a single 2 x 3 ft. planter box.

Have the lumber yard cut (or DIY) two 8-ft boards into three segments: two 3-ft and one 2-ft – resulting in four 3-ft and two 2-ft boards total. The remaining 8-ft board should be cut into four 2-ft pieces.

  • [3x] 1” x 6”:
    • [4x] 3-ft segments
    • [6x] 2-ft segments

Most garden planters are at least 12 inches deep, so the four 3-ft and four 2-ft boards allow for a double-stacked planter to achieve this depth.

To create the planter bottom, use a single 1” x 4” x 8’ board, cut into four 2-ft pieces. This will be combined with extra pieces from other lumber to create the bottom panel.

  • [1x] 1” x 4”:
    • [4x] 2-ft segments

A single 1” x 2” by 8’ board will also be required to create a ledge for the planter bottom. Cut this board into three pieces: two pieces at 30 inches and one piece at 24 inches.

The 30” pieces will be mounted inside the box and need to be a bit smaller.

  • [1x] 1” x 2”:
    • [2x] 30” segments
    • [1x] 24” segments

The V-leg planter can be a bit tricky as each leg will be made from joining two, 1” x 4” boards.

Start with four 1” x 4” x 8 ft. boards. Cut each of the 8-ft boards into three segments: two 3-ft sections and one 2-ft section.

  • [4x] 1” x 4”:
    • [8x] 3-ft sections
    • [4x] 2-ft sections

V-leg planters may also use a combination of wood glue and trim nails to strengthen the legs.

Additional materials for any style planter box will, at minimum, include galvanized screws (1.25 in. – 1.5 in.) such as decking screws, and some type of liner for the bottom of the box, such as landscape fabric or weed cloth.

#5. Gather the Necessary Tools

As planter boxes are often more customized, a measuring tape and saw (hand saw or chop saw) will likely be required at various points to achieve the desired shape and size. A hammer and a square may also come in handy, depending on the chosen design.

A garden planter with marigold flowers.

(Image: Michael Coghlan87)

Be prepared with a power drill and drill bits, as well!

#7: Build the Garden Planter

For these planter designs, the planter box ends which are 2 ft. will be set inside of the 3-ft front and back panels. This will create a box with inside dimensions approximating 34” x 24”.

  • Fasten the Ledge for the Planter Bottom
    • Lay one 3-ft section of 1 x 6” board flat. Use a tape measure to mark 3” from each end of the board.
    • Take one 30” section of 1 x 2” board and place it flush along the bottom edge of the 3-ft panel so that it lines up with the pencil marks.
    • Use the drill to pre-drill 5 holes along the 1 x 2” piece. Drill 1.25” screws through each of the holes into the 3-ft panel.
    • Repeat steps 1 – 3 with another 3-ft section of 1 x 6” and 30” section of 1 x 2”.
  • Build the Legs
    • Take two 3-ft sections of 1 x 4” board and place them end to end, with one edge inside the other. Ensure that they align.
    • Use wood glue along the seam and use a clamp to hold the wood as it dries (optional). Use trim nails along the edge connecting the two leg pieces.
    • Repeat these steps 3 more times to build the remaining three v-legs.
    • Attach the legs to the front and back 3-ft panels.
    • Lay two of the v-legs opposite one another and place one 3-ft section of 1 x 6” board, without the ledge, onto the legs so that each end is flush with the inner corner of one v-leg. The upper edge of the 1 x 6” should be flush with the top of each v-leg.
    • Use two to three 1.25” screws to attach the 1 x 6” to the v-leg from the inside.
    • Next, lay one of the 3-ft sections of 1 x 6” board with the ledge below the panel that was just fasted. Lay the new panel flush against the first panel and ensure the ledge is at the bottom of the would-be planter.
    • Hold the v-legs tight against the 1 x 6” and fasten it with three 1.25” screws to the legs from inside.
    • Repeat these four steps with the other two v-legs and the other two 3-ft sections of 1 x 6” board.
  • Complete the Frame By Attaching the 2-ft Side Panels to the V-Legs
    • Have someone stand the 3-ft sections of 1 x 6” with v-legs on one end.
    • Lay one 2-ft section of 1 x 6” inside the v-legs so that the ends of the 2-ft board are flush against the ends of the 3-ft boards, inside the v-legs. Ensure that the edge of the 2-ft 1 x 6” is flush with the top of the v-legs.
    • Fasten the 2-ft 1 x 6” with three 1.25” screws to the inside of each v-leg.
    • Next, lay another 2-ft section directly beneath the first and fasten in the same way, ensuring the panel is tightly contacting the 3-ft panels, v-legs, and the other 2-ft panel before securing it to the v-legs.
    • Rotate the frame onto its other end, and repeat these four steps to add the remaining 2-ft panels.
    • Assemble the bottom of the planter.
    • Stand the planter up so that the ledge is at the bottom.
    • Place the remaining two sections of 2-ft 1 x 6” board at either end of the planter. The panels should rest on the ledge and stop about .75” from the sides of the planter.
    • Place two the four sections of 2-ft 1 x 4” board next to one of the 1 x 6” boards. Space .5” between each.
    • Place the remaining 2-ft section of 1 x 2” board next, in the center of the planter, leaving .25” of space on either side.
    • Place the remaining two 2-ft sections of 1 x 4” board between the 1 x 2” and 1 x 6”. Space .5”.
    • Ensure the bottom panels are reasonably and evenly spaced for drainage and use 1.25” screws to fasten them to the ledges on the front and back panels.
  • Add a Layer of Landscape Fabric or Cloth, Fastening With Staples if Desired

Note: Any remaining wood can be used as bracing to strengthen the bottom of the legs.1

#7: Fill the Planter With Soil

Some people suggest adding a thin layer of gravel or stones before adding compost and soil. The gravel can assist with retaining soil, particularly with garden box designs using a slat bottom with spaces.

#8: Plant!

Though some garden planters may be large enough to house multiple plant types, they are often designated for a single food plant. Get those seeds or seedlings and get planting!

Options for a more polished look:

  • Use 1” x 2” pieces of trim around the top of the planter to create a professional look.
  • Use 60-grit sandpaper to smooth over edges and any rough areas.
  • Use a stain or sealant for the outside of the planter. Don’t forget the applicator brush. Always sand before staining to produce an optimal finish.

Alternative designs:

  • Use a solid wood bottom panel drilled with 5 to 6 drain holes for a sturdier planter.
  • Add X-bracing to legs for style and strength.
  • Save money by using pallet wood to create the bottom of the planter.
  • A shelf can be added at the bottom of the planter to create more stability, functionality, and aesthetic appeal.
  • For larger garden planters, add vertical braces inside the longer panels for support.

The Many Benefits of Gardening

Why garden? This is a question people may revisit time and time again while trying to figure out how to make time for gardening in their already hectic schedules.

Fortunately, the benefits of gardening are numerous, making it easier than ever to take the plunge. Here are 10 of those benefits:61

  1. To save money: Food is expensive, and everyone knows the feeling of spending too much on produce at the grocery store, only to throw away any unused portions days later. Save money with a home garden by growing kitchen essentials and reducing waste!
  2. To eat healthier: People who garden tend to eat healthier, partly because of the accessibility of fresh fruit and vegetables and partly because of the pride in eating something grown by hand.
  3. To eat organic: The only way to truly control what is in the food people consume is for them to grow the food themselves. Home-grown produce is likely to be cleaner and more organic than what can be found at the store.
  4. To relieve stress: Research has shown that the act of gardening relieves stress and that bacteria in the soil can actually reduce inflammation and stress-induced disease.46
  5. To get exercise: Gardening is actually a great way to get exercise while doing something productive!
  6. To educate children: Gardening is a great way to teach children the value of hard work, the labor involved in bringing food to the table, and the discipline required to nurture life.
  7. To practice mindfulness and intentionality: For many people, gardening is a contemplative experience, a quiet restful time of deliberate interaction with nature. This feeds an appreciative, reciprocal relationship between humans and the natural world.
  8. To support native plants and animals: A backyard garden can support native ecosystems, providing food and shelter for small mammals, insects, and especially, pollinators.
  9. To support physical and emotional wellness: The health benefits of gardening are impressive. Gardening supports stronger bones, a healthier brain, more stable emotions, and improved immunity.
  10. To care for the planet: Gardening is one way people can care for the planet. Every food item grown in a home garden is one food item that is not reliant on the burning of fossil fuels to get from field to market and market to table. Gardening reduces the carbon footprint of agriculture.

The Role of Home Gardening in Modern-Day Life

The role of home gardens in the United States has changed through the centuries, transitioning from small-scale agriculture to designer gardens to sustainable landscapes.
Home gardening, the process of growing and nurturing plants at home for personal use, is a hobby for some people and a way of life for many others.5

Gardening in the 21st century is a pathway to creating more sustainable, dynamic, and fulfilling homes and communities. What is even more exciting in today’s age is how many options there are for individuals planning to have their own home garden.

There is a variety for every person and every need. The next section explores some of the home garden plant options for first-time gardeners as well as veteran gardeners.65

With this complete guide to home gardening, a person with no gardening skills and those with years of experience can find ways to start and improve their home garden!

Frequently Asked Questions About Home Gardening

What Is the Best Soil for Vegetable Gardens?

The best soil for vegetable gardens is undeniably nutrient-rich, loamy soil with lots of organic matter. To get the most productive soil, gardeners can supplement with compost and shredded leaves.44

What Is Straw Bale Gardening?

Straw bale gardening is a gardening method where raised garden beds are fashioned out of rectangular bales of farmer’s straw, and the desired vegetables or herbs are planted directly into the prepared straw. When the straw is properly prepared with fertilizer and water, it will gradually decompose throughout the growing season, providing additional organic matter and nutrients to the plants.43

What Is a Homestead Garden?

A homestead garden is essentially the same thing as a kitchen garden and is a functional, small-scale vegetable patch, usually grown around the home, which provides some to all of a family’s produce needs. Homestead gardening is the process of growing food at home to use in the home.28

Read More About Home Garden


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2Anna. (n.d.). A Complete Guide to Organic Gardening for Beginners. The House & Homestead. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from <https://thehouseandhomestead.com/organic-gardening-beginners/>

3A Beginners Guide to Tower Gardening. (2023, September 18). The Frugal Farm Girl. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from <https://www.thefrugalfarmgirl.com/guide-to-tower-gardening/>

4Besemer, T. (2020, August 10). 18 Plants To Grow In Your Herbal Tea Garden – Blend Your Own Teas For Pleasure & Profit. Rural Sprout. Retrieved September 20, 2023, from <https://www.ruralsprout.com/herbal-tea-garden/>

5Bhupathiraju, S., & Varma, M. (n.d.). Home Gardening: 9 Different Types of Home Gardens List. Styles At Life. Retrieved September 18, 2023, from <https://stylesatlife.com/articles/types-of-home-gardens/>

6Blackstone, V. (2023, February 10). Balancing Gardening And A Job: When You Have No Time For Gardening. Gardening Know How. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from <https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/lifestyle/balancing-work-and-garden.htm>

7Boeckmann, C. (n.d.). How to Build a Raised Garden Bed: Step by Step Guide. The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from <https://www.almanac.com/content/how-build-raised-garden-bed>

8Boeckmann, C. (n.d.). 10 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in the Home Garden. The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from <https://www.almanac.com/content/10-easy-vegetables-grow-seed>

9Boeckmann, C. (2023, May 16). Vegetable Gardening for Beginners: The Basics of Planting & Growing. The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Retrieved September 24, 2023, from <https://www.almanac.com/vegetable-gardening-for-beginners>

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74Photo by David Brown. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-person-with-a-ladder-in-a-garden-17209161/>

75Photo by Kampus Production. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-a-basket-at-a-garden-7658822/>

76Herb Garden Photo by Jack Ketcham / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackketcham/26059033830/>

77Photo by Huy Phan. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/potted-green-indoor-plants-3076899/>

78Photo by Inspector. Pixabay. Retrieved from   <https://pixabay.com/photos/home-landscape-yard-lawn-garden-169540/>

79Jardin zen meditation Photo by Amaury.gravy / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Jardin_zen_meditation.jpg>

80Butterfly Gardens Photo by likeaduck / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/thartz00/4828390581>

81Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/variety-of-plotted-plants-in-a-greenhouse-6508827/>

82Photo by Kampus Production. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-picking-a-lettuce-vegetable-7658805/>

83Container garden Photo by Richard Masoner / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/bike/4753073846>

84Vegetable Garden Photo by OakleyOriginals / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/oakleyoriginals/20472161700>

85Raised bed Photo by Oregon State University / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Raised_bed_%2830827889726%29.jpg>

86Shrewsbury Planter Photo by Ofer El-Hashahar / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/best4garden/9015394265/>

87Yellow Marigolds Photo by Michael Coghlan / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/26867678789/>

88Balcony garden in Vibble Gotland Sweden Photo by W.carter / Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0). Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Balcony_garden_in_Vibble_Gotland_Sweden.jpg>

89Photo by Jose – Nacho. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/residential-building-with-balconies-8405233/>

90O’Hare Aeroponic Garden Photo by Mx. Granger / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:O%27Hare_Aeroponic_Garden.jpg>

91Photo by cottonbro studio. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/a-person-doing-home-gardening-9709378/>

92Photo by Karolina Grabowska. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-watering-crops-4750274/>

93Vertical hanging planters. Photo by Jaysin Trevino / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) . Cropped, Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <https://www.flickr.com/photos/orijinal/12858402085/>

94Photo by Karolina Grabowska. Pexels. Retrieved from <https://www.pexels.com/photo/crop-photo-of-person-planting-seedling-in-garden-soil-4207910/>