Tips to Help You Decide Where to Plant What in Your Garden

Choosing where in your garden to put certain plants may seem a bit overwhelming but don’t worry. There are only a few things you need to know about, and in this post, I cover what you need to know to select a spot for your plants.

Sunlight, spacing, and drainage are the three key factors to keep in mind when choosing where to put plants in your garden. Make sure to put your plants in a spot where they get the sunlight they need, and do not plant them too close. If your garden is not completely flat, plant uphill for better drainage.

Below, I describe how you can find the perfect spot in your garden for various plants, including how to take factors such as sunlight, spacing, and drainage into consideration.

How to Choose Spots for Plants in Your Garden

Since gardening is supposed to be a fun hobby, the most important thing to consider when choosing where to plant certain plants is where you would like to see them grow. If you have a spot where some plants would grow well, but that is really inconvenient for you, it is not a good spot even though plants might grow well there.

Try to think ahead and picture how it will look when your plants have reached their full size. The most important thing is that the plants grow in places that you like and where they don’t get in the way of something else.

There are, of course, also some more tangible things to keep in mind when choosing where to grow what in your garden. Sunlight, spacing, and drainage are the most important factors to keep in mind when choosing where to plant plants.


Most garden plants like full sun, so place them in an open area or against a south-facing wall. However, certain vegetables, including most leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, and kale, grow well in partial sun or shade, so consider how much sun your individual plants require and plant them accordingly.

If you are unsure how much sunlight your specific plants require, it is worth finding out before you plant them. If you grow plants from seed, you can usually find information about how much sunlight the plants need on the seed packs. Otherwise, you can easily find the information for your specific plants online.


I have been guilty of planting too close many times. My logic was that the more plants I have, the more I can harvest, and while that generally makes sense, it is not always true.

Placing plants too close will eventually inhibit their growth since there is limited room for root systems to grow and more competition for the same amount of nutrients and water. Therefore, before sowing your seeds, please read on the seed pack how far apart they should be.

Sometimes the numbers for how far apart you should plants seeds seem like a lot, so it can be tempting to put them closer to each other to maximize the number of plants you have, but don’t make that mistake. The more space plants have to grow, the better they generally do.

Here are a few examples of popular garden plants and how far apart you should plant them:

Spinach2-3 inches (about 5-8 cm) apart in rows about 15 inches (38 cm) apart.
Lettuce5 inches (about 13 cm) apart in rows about 15 inches (38 cm) apart.
TomatoesDeterminate varieties: 2 feet (about 60 cm) apart.
Indeterminate varieties: 3-4 feet (about 90-120 cm) apart.
Kale12-18 inches (about 30-45 cm) apart or 1 plant per square foot.
Potatoes12-15 inches (30-38 cm) apart in rows about 3-4 feet (about 90-120 cm) apart


When growing plants directly in the ground, drainage is usually not a problem, although if your garden is not completely flat, there is one thing you should know about before planting anything.

If your garden is not completely flat, it is best to plant plants uphill since the soil there generally has better drainage than downhill. This is because rainwater will run downhill and gather around the lowest point, so plants growing there may become overwatered.

If your garden is flat (more or less), you will be fine, and generally speaking, this is only a problem if you live in an area where you often experience heavy rain.

What Does it Mean When Plants Require “Full Sun”?

When you read about how much direct sunlight certain plants need, you will quite often encounter the term “full sun”. Of course, many plants require full sun to grow well, but what exactly qualifies as full sun?

As a general rule, full sun refers to at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day when growing plants in a garden. The sun is usually more intense in the afternoon than in the morning, so your plants may require a bit more sunlight if the sun hits your garden in the morning than in the afternoon.

Not all garden plants are created equally when it comes to their sunlight requirements, and that is a wonderful thing. It allows you to utilize every single square foot in your garden as long as you know where to plant what.

Below, I list several popular garden plants that require full sun and several that can grow in partial sun or shade.

What to Plant in Full Sun

Plants that require full sun grows best in an open area of your garden or against a south-facing wall. Wherever in your garden, there is sunlight for the most hours per day, these plants will do well.

Here is a list of garden plants that grow best in full sun.

  • Tomatoes
  • Squash/Zucchini
  • Corn
  • Pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Cucumber
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Strawberries
  • Melon

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have a favorite plant in mind but you are not sure if it needs full sun, you can easily find the information online or on the seed pack.

What to Plant in Partial Sun or Shade

If there are areas in your garden that do not get a lot of sunlight, there are tons of plants that will be happy to grow there.

Here are some plants that grow well in shade or partial sun.

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Leek
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peas
  • Radishes

Once you know what should grow in full sun, partial sun, and shade, you can start thinking about companion plants. I get into this below.

What Plants Should Be Planted Together?

Companion plants are plants that benefit from being grown near each other. There are multiple reasons why certain plants grow well together and why some should not be grown together. Most of these reasons have to do with disease and pest prevention, but that is beyond the scope of this post.

Instead, I have made a table that shows what plants some of the most popular garden plants grow well with.

PlantGrows well with
SpinachKale, lettuce, garlic, onion, leeks, chives, pepper, tomatoes, and strawberries.
LettuceSpinach, onions, beets, tomatoes, strawberries, corn, peas, radishes.
TomatoesGarlic, onion, chives, peppers, carrots, basil, parsley, mint.
KaleLettuce, spinach, garlic, onion, potatoes, rosemary.
SquashLettuce, corn, peas, radishes, beans, sunflowers, mint.
PeppersLettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, corn, basil, parsley, chives, rosemary, dill.
CucumbersOnion, peas, beans, corn, carrots, sunflowers, radishes.

I hope you are better prepared for choosing where to plant what in your garden now than before you read this post. Happy gardening!


My name is Anders, and I am the owner and writer here at Gardening Break. Gardening has always been a big part of my life. As a child, I would watch and learn as my parents worked in our garden or as my grandfather worked in his greenhouse. As I have gotten older, gardening has become a bigger and bigger part of my life. I have grown to enjoy it more and more, but I am also starting to realize just how much there is to learn about gardening, which is why I created Gardening Break in the first place; To share all the useful tips and tricks I learn along the way. You can read more about me and my mission with Gardening Break by following the "About Us"-link at the top and bottom of every page.

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