The New Gardener: Choosing a size and type of garden

Posted on: April 13, 2018 | Written By: Mike Palm | Comments

Note: With the guidance of editor Doug Oster, new gardener Mike Palm will be chronicling his adventures (or perhaps misadventures) in starting a garden this year.

The flat area that we settled on last week is about 15 feet wide by 32 feet long. I figured placing the garden in the middle of that area makes the most sense to keep it away from the trees on one side. It would also allow for further expansion should this prove successful.

The layout has to allow for some kind of perimeter fence to keep out deer. (A nearby neighborhood is called Deer Crossing so I know deer will be a problem.)

Doug says: One important thing when making raised beds is to be sure you can reach the center from the sides. That’s a common mistake for newbies.

With that in mind, I opted to build a pair of raised bed gardens, each 4 feet wide by 10 feet long. I was going to leave 2 feet of space between the two but increased that to about 32 inches, which is wide enough to accommodate my kneeling.


Pressure-treated wood is a lot cheaper than naturally rot-resistant wood, but who knows about the long-term effects of those chemicals? Cedar, black locust and redwood come recommended, and I went with cedar.

Doug suggested HP Starr Lumber in Zelienople, where I found what I was looking for. I got six-inch boards … four 10-footers and two 8-footers that I would have to saw in half. I added another 8-footer landscape piece that I sawed down to a foot each to attach the corners.

Here’s a look at the process:

Doug says: Looking good, You might want to consider being a little deeper, but you’ll be OK. I’m really looking forward to seeing the process of your first garden, this is going to be fun…promise.

On a side note, I sure wish I had one of the Everybody Gardens kneelers. I may have to get one before planting time.

Getting dirty

Muddy knees

Next up: What kind of soil to use

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See also, The New Gardener: Picking A Garden Location.

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