Questions to ask yourself before designing your garden.
What would you like to achieve on your property in terms of the landscaping of your home and its ability to feed you? This is the time to dream big and long term.
What is your timeline- can you make changes quickly or do you plan to make changes over several years?
How much money do you plan to dedicate to initial changes?
How much money can you dedicate on a monthly or annual basis?
How much sun do you get on your property? It helps to think in terms of number of hours of directly sunlight between March and November and think in terms of the different areas of your property.
Are you willing to remove trees to increase the amount of sunlight?
What is your source of water if irrigation becomes necessary? Can you harvest rain from your roof?
What is currently growing in your yard?
How important are the aesthetics of your yard to you? To your neighbors?
Are there neighborhood covenants, rules or regulations that are suppose to keep you from growing food or raising certain types of animals?
Will children be using the yard? If so what age and how many?
Will pets be using the yard? If so how many and what kind?
Do you use your yard for entertaining purposes?
Are there special activities like bonfires or hog racing for which you will need to set aside room?
Would you like to include fruit trees, bushes and edible perennials (plants that come back every year) in your landscape? If so how much room can you devote to these plants? (Remember trees are big and produce lots of shade. Shrubs can get big too.)
Do you plan to grow annual vegetables (plants you start from seed or transplant every year like corn and tomatoes) and if so how much room can you devote to these vegetables. By the way you’ll want at least 6, and better yet 8, hours of direct sunlight for this area.
How much time can you commit to your garden each week?
How much food, on a percentage basis based on your weekly menu, would you like to harvest from your yard?
Do you have physical limitations that would make typical gardening difficult for you?
How much help (significant others, reluctant in-laws, children, household pets pressed into the service of chasing away squirrels) do you have at your disposal?
How much experience do you with growing plants and gardening?
Do you have room to over-winter potted plants in your home?
Do you have sunny windowsill useful for starting seeds or growing sprouts?
What kinds of animals would you be interested in raising: chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, cows, pigs, sheep, llamas, bees, fish, or others?
What equipment do you own or could borrow? Think hand tools like shovels and rakes but also mowers and tillers.
Do you have natural sources of mulch available including baled straw, fallen leaves or grass clippings? How about cardboard (any appliance stores near by?)
Do you have room for outdoor containers on patios, decks or porches for growing food?
Do you anticipate a problem with animals such as rabbits or gophers visiting your garden and helping themselves to your produce?Do you anticipate encountering soil contamination due to exterior lead paint or other chemicals previously used on your property?