When spring arrives, you will be busy cleaning up from winter and doing other important gardening tasks. Plan now in winter while you have time.

This is the second in a series of five posts of How a Gardener can be Productive in Winter

How to Plan Next Year’s Garden - Winter is a great time to sit indoors and dream of next year's garden and plan it out.When spring arrives early next year, you probably will be busy cleaning up from winter and doing other important gardening tasks such as seeding and perhaps doing some construction before the heat of the summer. Wouldn’t it be great if you have your plan completed for what you want to accomplish in your garden?

Winter is a good time to do planning for your garden. You may want to plan out your vegetable garden or plan some major structural improvements or in general figure out when you need to do certain tasks.

Here are a few ideas of what type of planning you can get done while the weather outside is too nasty to do any gardening.

Vegetable Garden Plan

Usually I get my seed catalogue/guide from West Coast Seeds in the mail around Christmas break. Here is what I do to plan out my vegetable garden:

  • veggie list checked off choose what vegetables I want to grow next spring, summer and fall – I use the growing guides in my catalogue to checkmark beside those veggies I will grow
  • check what seeds I still have and if they are still viable (seed packets should have a date showing the age of the seeds) – I add a $ beside those veggies in the growing guide I need to purchase
  • choose the varieties from the catalogue I want to purchase if I need more seeds
  • either order them online or visit my local nursery to purchase them. Tip: go early as nurseries often have limited stock which gets bought up quickly once spring arrives
  • review the spacing requirements for each vegetable
  • look at last year’s garden plan and rotate crops according to it
  • mark down what will be planted where
  • review the growing guides in the seed catalogue/guide, especially for the important dates
  • make notes in a spare wall calendar, day planner or online calendar app of when to seed in the greenhouse, direct seed in the garden and transplant so I don’t miss any crucial dates

For more in depth info see how I plan my vegetable garden.

Hardscaping Additions and Improvements

At the beginning of 2017 I bit the bullet and started building a new compost bin. That then led to building new raised vegetable beds.

Then in summer I renewed the roof of my greenhouse to deal with rainwater leaking issues.

These all were improvements that I spent a bit of time in winter planning out.

So what can you consider planning for once the weather improves and you can start work again in the garden? It could be a brand new addition to the garden or just restoring/improving what is already there.

  • compost bins
  • raised beds
  • new planting beds to replace lawn
  • walkways
  • pergolas, arbours and trellises for climbing plants
  • fences to keep out deer if these are a problem in your area
  • greenhouse
  • walls
  • stairs
  • ponds and other water features

I’m probably missing some things but those are the most common ones I can think of right now.

Planning will involve getting some inspiration online or in books or magazines. A great way to spend an afternoon with a cup of coffee or tea inside where it is warm and dry!

If you are doing-it-yourself, spend some time sketching ideas out on paper or in a 3D drawing program such as Sketchup or TinkerCad. You want to figure out dimensions and other criteria so that you get the design right before you start building anything. And make sure the rest of the family agrees – you might have to do some selling of your idea to them!

If you’re not going to do the work yourself, start asking around to find someone that you can hire. Landscape designers are usually not as busy in winter but get booked up quickly in early spring. You’ll still need to have an idea on paper of what you want to show the professional, so make sure you’re prepared.

You might also consider buying kits for greenhouses, compost bins and raised beds. These are great if you don’t want to design them yourself but don’t mind putting them together. Again doing some research into what is available and then purchasing before the spring is a good idea. In spring some vendors run out of a product and you will have to wait.

How to Plan Next Year’s Garden - Winter is a great time to sit indoors and dream of next year's garden and plan it out.

Permanent Plantings

When it comes to permanent plantings such as trees, bushes, perennial flowers and vegetables, you need to plan well so that you don’t have to move plantings later.

So what should you look for when selecting a location?

  • Light requirements – does it need full sun, part shade or full shade?
  • Drainage – can it survive in a wet area that collects rainwater or a dry area that is exposed to wind
  • Shade umbrella – trees especially affect other areas of the garden by creating shade; don’t put a tree where you plan to grow light-loving plants
  • Leaf litter – trees shed leaves and needles so you may not want a tree branching over a gravel path
  • Safety – trees can shed large branches (especially if the branches are diseased or dead); avoid planting trees that overhang your house roof or other areas of the garden that could be damaged

Also decide on the ratio of permanent plantings versus annual plantings. In some areas you may want the flexibility of changing out the plantings every year so annuals make the most sense.

Vacation Planning

Where possible try and plan when you will be away from your garden on vacation. If you can decide on that early enough you will then have lots of time to prepare.

You’ll need know what you’ll need to do to plan for each vacation.

In some cases you might not know exactly when you will be taking vacation, but at least you can start asking around for someone to take care of your garden.

Work Plan

Finally with all this planning behind you, time to start thinking about when you are going to do the work or have the work done.

You might have planned some time off from work to spend on a project or two. Factor that in. You may have some vacations out of town planned (see above) or some other priorities where you won’t be able to work on garden projects for a while.

Make sure you have lists of what you need to purchase for your various garden projects. You may already want to purchase some supplies to have on hand to start work the minute the weather cooperates.

Above all also schedule in some relaxing time to enjoy your garden that is moving closer to becoming a homestead!

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Marc Thoma

Tranquil Garden Urban Homestead, Victoria, BC

How to Plan Next Year’s Garden - Winter is a great time to sit indoors and dream of next year's garden and plan it out.

Marc Thoma

Marc is the founder of Tranquil Garden. He has more than 15 years gardening experience and is working steadily towards his own tranquil garden.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. When vacation planning you might also need to do other preparation work. Examples include installing an automatic timer for watering your plants or add automatic vent openers to your greenhouse if you have one.

    These upgrades will help you even when you are at home by reducing the amount of garden work you need to do every day.

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