The following post is a synopsis of the Brian Hammers Gardening In Mojave- Notes and Tips. The full presentation can be downhere: Garden Site Selection and Bed Preparation.

Gardening is a fun and rewarding activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. But before you start planting, it is important to plan and prepare your garden site. In this blog post, we will discuss the process of garden site selection and bed preparation, including planning, building the bed, tilling, weeding, amending, and making it better every year. We will also cover various styles of beds, trellises, shade, garden paths, soil amending, and protecting your garden from critters.

Planning a Garden

The more you plan, the better the results. Before you start digging, consider the location of your garden. Choose a site that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, with good drainage and easy access to water. You should also consider the aspect and slope of your garden site. A south-facing garden will receive more sunlight than a north-facing garden. A gentle slope can help with drainage, while a steep slope can cause erosion.

Styles of Beds

There are several styles of beds to choose from, including flat beds, rounded beds, raised beds, and garden paths. Flat beds are the traditional row garden, while rounded beds are raised beds without containment. Raised beds are built above ground level, and garden paths are the spaces between the beds. When choosing a style of bed, consider your available space, soil quality, and your own physical abilities.

Trellises or Grow Up!

Trellises are a great way to maximize your garden space and grow crops vertically. Some crops that are ideal for trellising include tomatoes, pole beans, peas, melons, cucumbers, Malabar spinach, and winter squash. When building a trellis, choose a sturdy material such as bamboo or metal, and make sure it is tall enough to accommodate the crop you are growing.


Shade can be a valuable asset in the garden, especially in hot and dry climates. Consider planting trees or installing shade cloth to provide relief from the sun. You can also use shade-loving plants to create a cool and shady spot in your garden.

Garden Paths

Garden paths are an important part of any garden, as they provide access to your beds and protect your plants from foot traffic. When building your paths, choose a durable material such as gravel or mulch, and make sure they are wide enough to accommodate a wheelbarrow.

No Rototillers!

Rototillers can be harmful to your soil structure and microorganisms. Instead of tilling, consider double digging your beds the first time you build them. Double digging involves removing the top layer of soil and loosening the subsoil to create a deep and fertile bed.

Amending Your Soil

Amending your soil is an essential part of preparing your garden beds. Soil amendments can improve soil structure, increase water-holding capacity, and provide essential nutrients for your plants. Some amendments to consider include compost, crushed oyster shells, alfalfa pellets or meal, sulfur, wood ashes, worms or worm castings, and mycorrhizae.

Protecting Your Garden

Protecting your garden from critters can be a challenging task. One effective way to keep out rabbits and other small animals is to install a 1-inch mesh hardware cloth around the perimeter of your garden. You can also use repellents, traps, or exclusion techniques to keep pests at bay.

In conclusion, planning, building, and maintaining a garden can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. By following these tips for garden site selection and bed preparation, you can create a healthy and productive garden that will provide you with fresh produce for years to come.