How to Organize Your Garden

A garden journal with various seeds and gardening tools

Gardens offer a rewarding space to unwind from the day and reap the personal satisfaction of growing your own food, flowers, and plants. It’s great to have seasonal produce ready to harvest for dinner or fresh flowers you can cut and take to a friend. But gardening requires some organization in order to know what you have planted, how to care for it, and how to plan for next season.

Gardening Tools

Begin by organizing all of your gardening tools. Long-handled tools such as shovels and hoes can be stored in a barrel, garbage can, or wood-framed tall crate. You can also hang them from a wall of the shed, barn, or garage. Be sure to clean them before storage to avoid rust and erosion. Smaller hand tools fit nicely in a 5-gallon bucket. Use a bucket apron to keep small items organized in the pockets. Larger tools such a rototillers and edgers should also be cleaned and drained of gas prior to winter storage.

Seeds and Bulbs

Planting onion bulbs in a garden

Most seeds can be stored for several years as needed. Just be sure they are in a dry place. You can place them in clearly-labeled jars or keep them in the original packaging if you purchased them at a store. Make sure you include a date and the name of the item on your label. There’s nothing worse than finding seeds and not knowing whether it’s corn or wildflowers.

Bulbs can often be held over for one season, but will need to be stored in cool, dry location so they don’t sprout. If you pull your bulbs out of the ground each season, place them into plastic totes or paper bags and clearly label it with the type of bulb and planting information.

Your Garden

When planning your garden, consider whether you will use raised beds. However the area is laid out, remember to leave adequate space for walkways and wheelbarrows.

Next, map out the location of all of your plants. Make sure to take growth into account when mapping out your garden. Consult gardening books or the back of seed packages for recommended spacing so you don’t find yourself hunting for the hidden carrot tops beneath the mangle of sweet pea vines. Also consider what plants need the most sunlight. Group plants together that require more water. Think about what you will plant after the first harvest, such as replacing the cool-weather spinach with beans later in the season.

A raised garden bed with green vegetables like lettuce

Gardens take on a life of their own. In the blink of an eye your clearly-defined rows become infiltrated with weeds and plants that seem to come out of nowhere. Avoid the game of, “Weed or Food?” by clearly labeling all items in your garden. You can use popsicle sticks, plastic markers, decorative metal spikes, wooden stakes, or any other method as long as the markers stay in place throughout the season.

At the beginning of the season, take a picture of what you have planted. Sketch out the garden with the plants labeled on paper. This not only helps later in the season, but will also help next year when deciding on a layout for your plants. Also include the location of other plants around your yard. It’s easy to accidentally plant right over bulbs or other plants when they go dormant for the year. Avoid this with ground markers and a written diagram. Store your diagrams and seed packets inside your favorite gardening book, a three-ring binder, or plastic container with dividers.

As the saying goes, “Getting started is the hardest part.” This is especially true during gardening season when you’re gawking at a section of yard filled with weeds and attempting to the reconcile that with the picture in your head of copious lettuce plants. With some organization from prior years though, your planning and preparation stages can be well underway when it’s time to dig out the trowels. Making the effort to be organized will save you time, money, worry, and energy that you can use for this season’s garden!