This summertime activity can boost your mood, supply you with fresh ingredients, and let you stretch your muscles. Know what we're talking about? It's vegetable gardening! Whether you've got acres to plant massive gardens or a tiny plot beside your patio, you can bring a thriving garden to life. But the first step to growing a bountiful harvest is figuring out a vegetable garden layout that'll work for your space.
How to Build Raised Vegetable Patches
Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? You can think of your veggie patch like that — something to care for and nurture just like you did with the dolls when you were a kid. Everyone can do it. Whether you have a small or large plot, these sample plans have building instructions for raised beds and all the details on laying out the vegetables in the garden that you'll need.
Large Raised Bed Layout
If you have a 24-by-24-foot space, you can create 10 raised beds within it. Think kale, red-leaf lettuce, carrots, garlic, potatoes, onions, peppers, tomatoes, chard, and some of your favorite herbs! Growing this kind of bounty will help you save big at the grocery store.
This large raised bed layout plan also has instructions on how to build a trellis for beans and other vining vegetables. With a little bit of work, you could bring your own small pumpkin or cabbage patch to life!
Small Raised Bed Layout
A compact raised bed can supply plenty of freshness to your kitchen. All you need is room for a 4'x4' raised bed to create 16 planting squares. This plan also has a trellis attachment which — besides being a gorgeous way to watch squash blossoms grow — gives you a bit more horizontal space to work with.
Things to Consider When Planning a Vegetable Garden Layout
We get it — creating a garden can be overwhelming since there are so many factors to consider. Make sure to cover these considerations so that your vegetable garden can be a blossoming success.
- Light: Veggies are sun worshippers and want a spot with at least six hours of our bright star in the sky.
- Water: Keep your plot close to a water source so you can water as needed. This is especially important as your veggies are rooting and when the climate hits a dry spell.
- Function: Your garden will grow best when your veggies have space, but you need some space, too! Particularly in larger gardens, allow two to four feet in between each bed to accommodate your wheelbarrow and other equipment. You don't want to feel like a bull in a china shop while tending to your vegetables.
- Fencing: Feeding your family is great. Feeding all the animals with what you're planning to feed your family with? Not so much. A fence will help keep deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and other creatures vying for your lettuce away.
- Aesthetics: Just like picking out a new outfit, you want your garden to be both practical and look good. Consider what you're working with. If you're low on the pizazz factor, add in other landscape elements like perennial flowers and herbs to add color, interest, and attract pollinators.
Set up your vegetable garden in an area that's close to a water source such as a rain barrel, well tap, or water spigot. If your layouts are on the larger side, you might want to consider installing an irrigation system so you can reach every plant from any angle.
Pick the Right Garden Style for Your Needs
There are many styles of vegetable gardens, but three common ones include raised beds, inground beds, and kitchen gardens. Each style works well in different situations, so consider their unique characteristics when choosing what's best for you.
Poor soil? Raised beds are the way to go especially if you want to grow organic veggies. They also help contain lots of food in a small space, are easier to maintain, and heat up faster in the spring. They may be small but they are mighty producers!
Raised bed kits are commonly found at garden centers or if you're the DIY type, you can make one yourself from lumber and hardware purchased at any home improvement store. Plot first, using a piece of graph paper to mark out your raised bed garden plan. Pencil in the vegetables you wish to plant. Also bear in mind that cold-weather-loving vegetables and heat-loving vegetables can be rotated, sometimes in the same bed, to get double the garden space out of each one.
Not only will a fence help keep the creatures out of your veggie patch, but growing some bug deterrents like mosquito-repellent plants might be another option to look into.
For a simpler approach, plant vegetables directly into the ground. Using a rototiller or spade, you can turn over the earth in the spring as soon as it's dry enough to be worked. Consider adding compost and cow manure to enrich the soil. You can then plant your vegetables in rows, either directly sown as seeds or as tiny plants transplanted into the ground.
Using the sheet of graph paper method to mark out how many rows of each vegetable you plan to grow works great for inground beds, too. Keep in mind your family's size and their likes and dislikes when planting vegetables, as well as how long certain vegetables keep.
Keep the rows about three feet wide, and leave several feet of space between them for maintenance access. Plants don't love compacted soil, so try not to walk on any areas you're intending to use for planting.
If you don't mind preserving the harvest through drying, freezing, or canning the produce, you can plant extra. If you don't have time to save your harvest, plant only enough for your family to use through the growing season.
Contrary to how it sounds, a kitchen garden isn't grown inside the kitchen. Instead, it's a precise and functional backyard plot to grow what you need for the kitchen table.
Many follow a traditional European pattern of having a circular center with paths radiating out from the center and beds along the outside, as well as in spaces near the center. This is where you can add a bird bath, fountain, dwarf fruit tree, strawberry pyramid, or other special plants. Flowers aren't just for decoration as they're often used to decorate the dining table and feed the local pollinators.
If you're considering just a salad garden to grow lettuces, radishes, and herbs, it can be planted closest to the house so you can quickly run outside to snip what's needed for dinner. When walls flank the kitchen garden, such as a garage wall, many gardeners will plant espaliered fruit trees against them.
Even More Garden Layout Inspo
There's no such thing as too much inspiration! These trusted resources spill the dirt on planning, constructing, and caring for your plot of soil.
- Colorado State University's Cooperative Extension offers tons of tips and tricks to help you grow delicious veggies, including plans for a block-style vegetable garden.
- Illinois Cooperative Extension created a great guide that includes keeping pests away and the oft-dreaded weed management.
- The University of Maine has an extensive guide on different gardening layouts including raised-beds and square foot gardens.
Create a Fruitful (and Veggie-ful) Garden
Gardening is where dreams come true — it's meditative, it nourishes your soul and belly, and gives you peace of mind that you're working toward keeping grocery costs low. Planting, maintaining, picking, and then eating your homegrown veggies is an incredibly fulfilling experience. Choose the style and vegetable garden layout that best suits your tastes and space, and within a few weeks, your garden will grow into a marvelous cornucopia of fresh food.