First Time Gardener: Preparing the Site

If this is your first year planting a vegetable garden (or the first time in many years), you need to start out right by selecting a good location and preparing the soil adequately. Improving your soil is a work in progress over the course of many years, but it will help your first year garden to do as much soil preparation as possible.

Digging in Compost

Site Selection

  • Vegetables need full sun to be productive. Select an area of your yard that gets at least 8 hours of sun during the day.
  • Most vegetables prefer a well-drained location. While many of us in Kansas struggle with sticky, clay soils, don’t make the problem worse by selecting the spot in your yard where water sits when it rains!

Preparing Your Garden

If you are planting a new garden, you need to start by getting rid of whatever is currently growing in that spot.

If you are going to be killing a part of your tall fescue lawn, you can apply glyphosate now. After the grass is dead, you can till it into the soil and you are on your way!

If you are going to be planting on an area that has been overgrown and weedy or that has had bermudagrass on it, you will have a harder time of it this year. Ideally, you would have wanted to start clearing that area and killing the bermudagrass last summer. To get started now, I would use glyphosate to kill anything that is currently green and growing, then remove all the plant material from the site you can. Till the soil and get ready to battle weeds this summer!

(If you are willing to wait another year to start your garden, I’d really recommend that you wait until July, then start using glyphosate to kill the bermudagrass.)

Now that the site is cleared, take a soil test. (You could also take the soil test before killing the existing plants.)The soil test will tell you if you need to amend the soil due to a very high or very low soil pH. It will also guide you in selecting the right fertilizers to use.

Procedure for Taking a Soil Test (pdf)

Check back later this week for Preparing the Soil to Grow!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on March 23, 2009, in Around the Garden, Family of 4 Garden, Working in the Garden and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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