Did you know? 29% of all gardening households are made up of 18 to 24-year-olds, suggesting a rising interest in gardening among younger generations.

Whatever your age, if gardening is your passion, you probably dread waiting through the winter. You fertilized your yard, trimmed your perennials, and tilled your vegetable garden during the fall: now is the perfect time to start prepping your garden for spring.

Whether you’re a casual gardener or you go all out with rows upon rows of plants, planning your garden ahead of time can help you save time, avoid overspending, and keep yourself focused once spring finally arrives. To start planning your garden now, read this quick guide.

Choosing the Right Gardening Site

Before you make your shopping list for the plant nursery and local garden centers, you’ve got to choose the right plant for the right place. Determine your sun conditions throughout the day, and even charting high points if necessary.

The ideal garden spot has soil that is loose, rich, and well-drained. It shouldn’t be a low area since these locations end up with standing water. Amending your soil is critical to ensuring what you plant gets off to a great start.

For example, many vegetables require at least six hours of sunlight every day. As such, avoid large, overhanging branches. Do include a convenient water supply that will make irrigation more convenient for you.

Determining Your Garden’s Size

For enthusiastic, first-time gardeners, a common mistake is making their new garden too big for them to manage. A too-big garden will be too much work, so only plan for what you can handle.

Keep the following factors in mind when deciding on a garden size:

  • Available room. How much space do you actually have?
  • Available time. When can you safely set time aside to garden without compromising the rest of your life?
  • Family size. If gardening is a family activity for you, how many people will it be feeding?
  • Types of vegetables to grow. Some vegetable plants take up a lot more room than others, so you may need more or less space depending on what you’re growing.
  • Motivation. Is gardening simply a recreational activity for you, or is it supposed to help you save money on healthy groceries?

Deciding Which Vegetables to Grow

If you need a big crop production relative to the space you have available, you will want to use plants that produce more per square foot. For example, you won’t want to grow watermelons, since they take large areas to grow. However, vine crops like cantaloupes and cucumbers can grow in small gardens if you trellis them on a fence or other structure.

Smaller, fast-maturing vegetables like radishes, beets, and turnips yield a harvest quickly and require little space.

Tomatoes, peppers, bush beans, and squash require more space, but they produce a lot over a long season. If your goal is to save money on groceries by gardening, grow what you eat!

After following these steps, you’ll have a basic plan for your garden well before spring arrives!