How Much Space Do You Need to Start a Home Garden?

person in brown shorts watering the plants

If you’re just starting your gardening journey, you’re probably overwhelmed by all there is to learn. There’s a lot to know about preparing your soil, choosing what to plant, and how to maintain your plants. If you’re a budding gardener and you’re starting to plan your garden, you probably want to know how much space you should set aside for your garden.

There’s a misconception that gardening takes up a lot of space, but this isn’t necessarily true. You definitely don’t need acres of land, or even a huge backyard, to successfully grow a garden. In fact, even if you have little to no outdoor space, and pavement or a synthetic lawn instead of grass and dirt, you can grow something.

Some say that the magic number is 10’ by 10’, or 100 square feet per person who is being fed from your garden. But the truth is that there is no right answer to this question. Every gardener is different and has different hopes and goals for their garden. To know what size to make your garden, you must first determine what your goal is.

What is the purpose of your garden?

You might be hoping to grow a fully self-reliant garden- meaning you want to omit the need for supermarket shopping and are planning to live exclusively (or mostly) from your homegrown fruits and veggies. In this case, you’ll need a little more space. You’ll be growing a wider variety of crops as well as a higher quantity of each kind of fruit and vegetable. 

You might simply be growing a few favourites to shorten the length of your grocery receipt. In this case, you’ll need less space than someone growing a fully self-reliant garden.

You might even want a hobby- and selecting gardening as a hobby is a great choice because, in addition to being mentally rewarding, it is physically rewarding when you see the (literal) fruits of your labour! In this case, you can grow as much or as little as you want, and your garden can be as large or as tiny as you want it to be.

Whether you want a perennial garden as your sole source of food or just want to do some winter veggie gardening for fun, you’ll find satisfaction in tending a garden.

How many people will you be feeding?

If you are a single person, you’ll obviously be growing less food than a family of four. Additionally, consider who else may be eating your crops. Do you have friends over for dinner every Friday night? Do your grandchildren visit on the weekends? Do you attend potlucks or frequently make food for others? Consider your household as well as the other people you may end up feeding throughout the year. 

You might overestimate what you need and end up with excess fruits and veggies, more than you’ll ever be able to eat. That’s ok! Most people are happy to receive your crops as gifts. People who don’t grow their own fruits and veggies will usually happily accept a basket of juicy bright tomatoes or huge fresh lemons. 

If you don’t want to give away your excess crops, you can always look into preserving your harvest. This will reduce the size of your garden (and your grocery list) and you’ll get lovely preserved plants all throughout the year. Canning, freezing and drying will mean you always have a stash of fresh produce if your garden goes through a dry spell.

What type of garden are you growing?

What does your ideal garden physically look like? Those with less space may be looking into vertical gardens or smaller plants in pots. Those without appropriate ground space may look at raised garden beds or planter boxes filled with store-brought soil. Are you growing small plants, plants that can be placed closer together, or huge fruit trees with wide-spreading roots?

Your physical environment will affect the size of your garden. Ideally, your garden should have ample sunlight- about six hours a day. If your yard doesn’t get much sun, or you don’t have room for a large garden, you may need to consider planting less or saving space with something like a vertical planter. 

Culling your big dream garden can be hard, but it isn’t realistic to grow pumpkins in a balcony garden. However, there are plenty of small herbs, fruits and veggies that can be grown in pots.

This may seem obvious, but if you’re forced to reduce the size of your harvest, plant what you know you’ll actually eat. Dedicate space to what you genuinely like. However, if you have room to spare, don’t be afraid to try new things. Growing a garden and being involved every step of the way can turn a veggie-hater into a veggie-lover.

Reduce the need for more space by planting multiple times throughout the year. As soon as one crop is harvested, plant another in its place.

If you’re still unsure, try a garden calculator. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself- gardening is meant to be relaxing, and we’re very lucky to live in a time when gardening is a hobby rather than a necessity! 

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