How to Plant a Garden in Arizona {without getting your hands dirty}


Are you interested in planting a backyard vegetable garden in Arizona? We just recently started the process! Here’s how I managed to get through planting season without breaking a sweat or getting my hands dirty…

1. Get yourself a handsome husband, preferably one who loves to cook, is interested in natural foods and healthy eating, and who can’t resist a nerdy spreadsheet.

2. Discuss planting a garden with your husband. Talk about how much fun it would be to grow your own vegetables and include the kids in the process. Consult Google and realize you’ve totally missed the right time of year to begin this project. Forget about it for a few months.

3. Repeat Step 2 above 1-2 times per year for 3-5 years.

4. Get yourself a best-mom-friend, preferably one who lives within walking distance and has kids the exact same ages and genders of your own. Make sure your hubbies get along swimmingly too. Observe carefully over the course of a year as said friends research, plan and plant an Arizona garden, build their own raised vegetable beds, and have custom irrigation lines installed by a guy named Tino. Marvel as their kids eat raw broccoli straight from the garden and gratefully accept all the extra zucchinis and squash they send your way.

5. As summer comes to an end, start getting serious. For real this time. Let your now-expert friends know you plan to follow them around for the next six weeks copying their every garden-planning move. Hope they don’t get annoyed.

6. While out to dinner with said friends, publicly insult your husband’s handyman skills, thus ensuring that the very next weekend he will prove you wrong by building two 6×6 raised garden beds (using the garage and power tools of your friends, of course).

7. Realize that now that you have two huge empty wooden boxes in your backyard, that this might be the year it actually happens.

8. Let the boxes sit empty for 4-6 weeks, taunting you and your follow-through abilities while also acting as giant litter boxes for your backyard cats. Put “Call Tino the irrigation guy” on your to-do list. Look at it several times a day.

9. During this time, send your husband helpful gardening links you come across online. Don’t read them–just forward. Be grateful for his Excel wizardry, a result of a decade of Fantasy Sports League Management (and, to a lesser degree, a career in finance), which will result in a spectacularly designed spreadsheet detailing what you will be planting and when.

10. Tag along with your friends to the nursery. Spend $100 on organic soil and stinky manure. Pray that the four-year-olds don’t break every garden gnome in the whole store.

11. Make sure to get pregnant by the time you begin your garden. This will ensure you cannot do any of the following: lift heavy bags of soil, accompany your family down the manure aisle of Home Depot without barfing, touch or inhale any possible chemicals, work in the hot sun without getting dehydrated, or focus on any project for a sustained amount of time. In other words: recuse yourself from any garden-related work.

12. Realize you still haven’t called Tino the irrigation guy. Circle it on your to-do list.

13. Leave the soil and manure in bags in the backyard for another 2 weeks, allowing the garden beds to fill with late summer rain and the threat of broken promises.

14. Call Tino the irrigation guy. Spend $300 on custom water lines running to still-empty giant litter boxes. Realize it would be really bad to back out now.

15. On the Big Day of Planting, come up with two major writing deadlines that will prevent you from participating in any way. Send your husband and kids to the nursery again.

16. Invite your mom to “spend time with the grandchildren” by sharing in the joy and excitement of planting a garden. Laugh when she convinces your husband to buy 1,500 live ladybugs to set free in the (still non-existent) garden to organically take care of any possible aphids. Wonder if aphids are actually a problem in Arizona. Figure they probably are not.

17. Act super helpful by putting sunscreen on the kids and making snacks for everyone. Send them outside. Lock the door.

18. Take a glass of water and four oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies into your office to write in peace. Watch out the window as it all magically comes together.

19. Throughout the process, take 14,000 photos of your children with dirty hands and huge smiles on their faces. Make sure Instagram knows that you are planting a garden. Feel smug at all the ‘likes’ and comments your photos get. Eat another cookie and enjoy the A/C.

20. Um, that’s as far as we’ve gotten. I have no idea what to do next. Try to keep the plants alive? I’ll let you know how that goes…

Apologies to those of you who thought this was actually going to be a helpful how-to article. Two resources we really did discover during this process were the FREE Desert Planting Calendar from The Urban Farm, and Summer Winds Nursery.

Do you have a backyard garden? Want to share any {actually} helpful tips??


  1. Wow.. this reminds me an awful lot of my own journey into gardening! Of course, I was completely unaware of the existence of Tino, the irrigation guy (and I assumed daily watering was all part of the fun anyway!) Well- long story short, thanks to rabbits, my dog, and my then 2 year old, who was convinced this was really just a very unique sandbox, the “garden” lasted about 1 week, was a huge mess, and never actually produced anything edible. It was a sad day when our lovely hand-built-by-my-husband garden bed wound up in the “bulk trash pickup pile” I am so impressed by those who can actually make these gardens work! I wish I were one of them! Good luck to you!

  2. […] what you grow: shrubs, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and trees, even those of you who grow weeds!Gardening books come in all different shapes and sizes and offer more information on gardening than …more than you will pay for one. Not only can gardening books be used for personal use, they are also […]

  3. To be as informed as possible, read as many books, articles, and blogs on organic gardening as you can.
    Gardening season adds a lot of chores to my writing day.
    If you are in need of any form of guidance in this task,
    make sure to obtain the services and supports of only the credible service providers.

  4. These are actually impressive ideas in about blogging.

    You have touched some nice things here. Any way
    keep up wrinting.

Comments are closed.