How to Plan for Next Year’s Garden

How to Plan for Next Year’s Garden
Microsoft Office offers templates to help ease the garden planning process.

When you anticipate garden changes and redesigns, do you plan ahead, or plop plants in the soil and move them around over time? Most of us, admittedly, do a little of both.

Several technology tools can help you plan for next year’s garden. Here are just a few:

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software works on a grid, which works well when planning by the square foot. Some websites offer downloadable Excel garden planning workbooks, tutorials and templates. Microsoft Office, itself, offers a free downloadable garden planner to track inventory, log seeding and planting times, create task lists and even design layouts.

Better Homes and Gardens offers “Plan-a-Garden”—a free planning tool. Create garden designs for container gardens, small garden plots and even large-scale gardens. The drag-and-drop format includes more than 150 trees, shrubs and flowers, as well as garden structures, accents and water features. Save your plans for later editing, printing or sharing with family and friends.

Mother Earth News offers a free thirty-day trial of its Vegetable Garden Planner to help you research and plan for the needs of dozens of different crops. Experiment with bed designs and plant placements, get a personalized planting chart, plan succession sowings and crop rotations and keep track of vegetable varieties. You can simply view an instructional video, or sign up for the free trial.

iScape is one of many mobile apps that allows you to snap a photo of your garden and then use the app to add new features, like trees and other plants, water features and gravel paths. You can also draw freehand and then add appropriate textures to match your plans. The limited free version is available on iOS and Android, and you can expand to the more comprehensive version for a small fee.

Of course, you can always use a plain piece of graph or blank paper. Or eyeball it and adjust as needed. Happy garden planning!

Beth Stetenfeld is a McFarland-based editor, writer, master naturalist and creator of the gardening blog