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What’s the ideal layout for a raised garden?

Raised garden layout

Raised gardening gets a resounding “yes”, doesn’t it? Now, the time has come to select the best layout for raised garden beds. Square, rectangles, curves and even a few intriguing keyhole shapes, find the pattern that fits the spot!

Grid layout for your raised beds

Grid shapeThis is the easiest to design and set up. Basically, rectangular beds are set up and aligned. Pathways are provided between them.

  • The best width for a raised garden bed is 4 feet (120cm). At this width, you can easily reach to the center from either side.
  • Length depends on building plans and materials.
  • Note that if against a wall, you shouldn’t exceed a width of 2 or 2½ feet (60-70 cm) since you can only reach across from one side
  • Square shapes are sometimes easier to make and manage.

Straight lines make for an ordered, elegant garden that is down-to-earth and efficient.

Materials can easily be recovered from pallets or spare planks.

Keyhole raised garden

keyhole-garden-layoutThis particular design looks like a donut from above, with a slice cut out to reach the center. It’s very appealing and unique, though not so easy to set up because of the curved shape. Usually it’s about 6 to 8 feet across (2 to 2½ meters).

  • It explores circular designs which are more natural, such as the famous herb spiral.
  • Helps ensure better moisture preservation (desiccating drafts can’t flow as easily as through straight lines)
  • Easier harvest for crops planted on the inside

It’s possible to set several keyhole gardens near each other. A honeycomb-like pattern is best in this case.

Also, there are two versions of the keyhole garden: sometimes a compost collector takes the place of the center of the donut. In this case, reduce overall size to 5 feet across (140 cm), so you can come at it from all around the raised bed.

Continuous path layout

Layout for a continuous path raised gardenThe goal here is to maximize growing beds as opposed to pathways and walkways. It’s great for urban gardens and tiny gardens that want to grow as much food as can be in as little space as possible.

In this case, you won’t have boxes set up one after the other with pathways between them. Instead, a single continuous walkway is mapped so that any growing space is within reach, like a maze with a single entry point that leads to one exit. The pathway can be either straight or curvy.

  • takes a while to map out the best path
  • maximizes growing space and results in larger yields for a given surface
  • the entire growing bed is visited when following the path
  • no point or space is forgotten or left untended
  • curved edging gives the setup a more natural, soft look
  • privacy benches can be set up under trees or in nice corners
  • curvy pathways are easy to make when using flexible, non-straight building materials or masonry

If you push this design to the extreme, you actually end up with a meditative labyrinth garden… cultivating your soul as well your food!

Terrace-leveled garden

Terracing a slope to create a raised gardenIdeal for sloped gardens, this solution turns a problem into a great opportunity! Like the mystical rice terraces of the Far East, a hard-to-grow area becomes an abundant fruit basket.

  • Follow the slope and mark out paths that have the same elevation.
  • With boards, stones, or other materials, create waist or knee-high walls that retain soil and dirt on the uphill side.
  • Prepare a walkway along the downhill side of the wall, and garden facing uphill.

Make sure your construction is firmly anchored to the ground in various points, especially if your area is prone to heavy rains: it’s a hassle when a small “landslide” occurs!

Integrate with the rest of the garden

The key to a successful raised garden layout is two-fold.

  • First, it has to be so appealing that you simply want to take a stroll in the garden. So finding nice materials for your raised beds is essential, materials that are both sturdy and beautiful.
  • Second, it must integrate with the various functions and purposes of your outdoor garden.

→ For instance, herbs and spices should grow near your garden outdoor kitchen.

Smart tip about raised garden layouts

There’s a big chance you can even use a combination of all these patterns. Doing so will create different atmospheres in the garden depending on the point of view. You can recreate totally different ambiences as you create your flower beds or vegetables gardens!

Images: CC BY 2.0: Scott Costello, Christian Guthier, CC BY-SA 2.0: Aline Craigmile; own work: Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois
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