Choosing a Location for Your New Vegetable Beds | Almanac.com

Choosing a Location for Your New Vegetable Beds


Best position for a vegetable garden

Whether you’re starting a new vegetable garden or extending an existing one, take time to choose where to site your garden to ensure your crops have the best chance of success. We”ll show you how.

Without a doubt, the secret to success with your vegetable garden is good planning. We’ll help you decide on the ideal spot in your garden to grow food and also the benefits different styles of beds offer.

In the video, we also demonstrate how to position your vegetables for a better harvest.

Choosing a Location for Your New Vegetable Beds


Most vegetables and fruits need plenty of sunshine!  So, a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight daily is perfect.

Also, choose an open site that isn’t overshadowed by trees, boundary structures, or buildings. Stay away from your house where it casts shadows; keep planting areas at least 10 feet away from the walls. Vegetables planted in the shade are less productive and may be more susceptible to disease and insect damage than planted in full sun.

In cooler climates, however, a suntrap is ideal for tender crops. For example, we have a community garden with a brick wall, and we’ll train fruit trees and berries against the wall that faces the midday sun. This can create ideal conditions for tender crops such as tomatoes, too.

In hot climates, plants may need some summer shade, especially cool-season vegetables such as peas, spinach or lettuce. In this case, add a shade cloth or plant cool-weather veggies in the shadow of taller climbing plants such as pole beans. Some crops such as leafy salads, chives, and currant bushes will thrive in partial  shade.

Also, check the different patterns of light and shadow during a day. Place wood stakes in the areas of shadow and then record the times when the site is fully covered with sunlight and when shadows appeared. If you don’t have at least six hours of sun over the whole garden, you may have to adjust your site.


An open position also means good air flow. Plants need air circulation to keep fungal diseases at bay. It also makes the garden less hospitable to insect pests such as whitefly that prefer a still, humid environment. 

However, it’s important that your plot isn’t too exposed to prevailing winds or turbulence. Solid walls or fences offer shelter but can also cause the wind to form destructive eddies on the leeward side as it is forced up and over the barrier, so it’s not a good idea to plant too close to them.

Hedges, open or woven fences, and other semi-permeable alternatives are ideal as they filter wind rather than deflecting it. You can always set up temporary screens while you wait for hedging to establish.


So, now we consider your soil.  Your soil needs good drainage. It should drain well yet also hold onto enough soil moisture for steady growth. 

Avoid sandy soil areas or clay soil areas. Both are water-retentive.  That said, they can both be improved with liberal additions of organic matter. Well-rotted garden compost improves the soil’s ability to maintain more consistent, plant-friendly moisture levels.  Of course, you could also use raised garden beds.

Extra water is likely to be necessary during dry weather, so position your new beds close to an outdoor water source or a rain barrel.

Avoid placing your vegetable garden under overhanging trees which will soak up rain and reduce the amount of water available to your crops.

Also, note that walls and fences can cast a ‘rain shadow’ which leaves the soil too dry for good plant growth.


Cold air is heavier than warm air and it sinks to the lowest part of the garden or collects against obstructions such as fences.

Avoid planting in these frost pockets, which can damage young growth and delay the time when you can start sowing.

The new growing season is incredibly exciting, but it pays to take your time planning where to site your vegetable beds.

Now find out how to lay out your vegetable garden!

Other considerations

Make sure your site isn’t over any underground utility lines, wiring, or pipes!  Usually, the utility companies will  stake out underground lines if you tell them you are digging a garden. Call your local utility companies if you have questions.

Planning a New Garden

Our Garden Planner can help you to plan the layout of your garden more effectively. When laying out your plan, start by adding fixed objects such as fences, sheds and trees. Simply click on the selection bar drop-down menu and choose which type of object you wish to view (for example Plants or Garden Objects), then scroll through to find the relevant item. Click once to pick it up. Move the cursor to where you want it to be on your plan, then click to place.

Adding a compass to your plan will help you to consider where shadows from fixed objects such as fences fall. Click to select a compass rose, move it onto the plan and click to place. Its size can be adjusted using the corner handles. Use the rotation handles to align the compass to North.

Raised beds, compost bins and other essential garden items are added in a similar way.

Start your 7-Day FREE Trial of Garden Planner today—ample time to create your first garden.


A Word on Container Gardening

If you find that it’s hard to find the right garden location in the ground, you can always grow crops in containers. The Garden Planner has many different sizes and shapes of container to choose from, helping you to accurately plan your container-grown crops.

Best of all, the Garden Planner makes it simple to rearrange objects and plants until you achieve the perfect layout for your garden conditions. If you discover this area is prone to frost or high winds, then it’s simple to move crops to a better location. Doing so now is much easier than when everything’s planted!

We’d love to hear your tips for first-time fruit and vegetable growers, so please share them in the comments section below.

About The Author

Tim Goodwin

Tim Goodwin, the associate editor for The Old Farmer's Almanac, has been reading North America's oldest continuously published periodical since he was a young child, growing up just a short drive from the OFA office. Read More from Tim Goodwin

2023 Gardening Club

Cheryl (not verified)

6 years 1 month ago

I want to grow things. In my past experiences I have problems with the shade, the heat, maybe both. My plants that grow and vine such as cucumbers and zucchini will grow great and bloom and then it seems they just die, almost overnight! We can water and water and water but not get much produce from our efforts. A few tomatoes, some green beans, a few squash or cucumber and it's done. Help

JAMES O. CLIFTON (not verified)

6 years 1 month ago

I enjoy reading your articles for sound advice. Have a bless day.