A vegetable garden can be as simple or as complex as you desire. Contrary to what you may think, you do not need acres of land to grow a bountiful vegetable garden. With rising food prices and a shift toward sustainability, it's worth trying your hand at gardening, no matter how much room you have to grow.
Sample Raised Vegetable Patch Plans
These sample plans are perfect for creating either a large or small vegetable garden. Each plan includes not only building instructions, but also information on laying out the vegetables in the garden.
If you need help downloading the printable plans, check out these helpful tips.
Large Raised Bed Layout
This vegetable garden layout includes ten raised beds of varying sizes in a 24-by-24-foot space. There is enough space to grow ample amount of food to feed a large family with plenty to can or freeze. Included in this plan are instructions on how to build a trellis for beans and other vining vegetables.
Small Raised Bed Layout
People just getting into gardening or with limited space will find this 4-by-4-foot raised bed plan is perfect. The trellis attachment included in this plan allows you to grow vegetables vertically, which is another huge space saver. This compact bed can be divided into 16 individual planting squares for intensive gardening.
When deciding the best layout for your vegetable garden, there are a few things to take into consideration.
Almost all vegetables require at least six hours of full sun daily to do their best. Be sure that you think about this when choosing a site for your garden. Watch the sun carefully during the day to be sure that the light is ample. Remember that the light angle and intensity changes with the seasons.
Vegetables require plenty of water, especially when they are establishing roots and during dry spells. Locate your vegetable garden in an area that is in close proximity to a water source such as a rain barrel, well tap, or water spicket. You may wish to consider installing an irrigation system if your layout is large.
When designing your vegetable garden, you need to allow not only enough space to grow particular vegetables, but space to walk among the plants without compacting the soil. Create beds no more than four feet wide, and allow two to four feet in between the beds to accommodate your wheelbarrow and other equipment.
Another functional element to consider includes fencing. Deer, rabbits, ground hogs, and other garden pests will quickly decimate your harvest unless you use physical barriers like fences or organic scent repellent products.
Not only do you want your garden to be practical, but you also want it to be attractive. Consider the best layout for your landscape and pick the one that will coordinate with other landscape elements already in place. You may want to include some perennial flowers and herbs in your bed to add color and interest, and to attract pollinators.
Planning by Garden Style
There are many styles of vegetable gardens, but three common ones include raised beds, inground beds, and kitchen gardens. Each style of garden will have unique characteristics when it comes to designing their layouts.
Raised beds are becoming increasingly popular and are a good way to grow lots of food in a very small space or in places where the soil is poor. Many people who grow organic vegetables use raised beds because they can control the quality of the planting medium. Raised beds heat up faster in the spring and are easier to maintain.
You can purchase raised bed kits at garden centers or make one yourself from lumber and hardware purchased at any home improvement store. Use a piece of graph paper to mark out your raised bed garden plan. Pencil in the varieties and types of vegetables you wish to plant, bearing 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 bed.
Planting vegetables directly into the ground is probably the simplest and most common way to create a vegetable garden. Using a rototiller or spade, gardeners turn over the earth in the spring as soon as it's dry enough to be worked. Amendments, such as compost and cow manure, may be added to enrich the soil. Vegetables are then planted in rows, either directly sown as seeds or as tiny plants transplanted into the ground.
When planning such a garden, it may be helpful to use a sheet of graph paper to mark out how many rows of each vegetable you plan to grow. Keep in mind the size of your family and their likes and dislikes when planting vegetables, as well as how long certain vegetables keep. 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 right away.
Keep the rows about three feet wide, and leave several feet of space between the rows for you to walk on and be able to bring your gardening equipment back and forth. Try not to walk on earth intended for planting; it will compact the soil.
Simple, functional, and beautiful, kitchen gardens combine vegetables, herbs, and flowers for a beautiful garden. Some kitchen gardens are simple backyard plots. 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. The center bed may contain a bird bath, fountain, dwarf fruit tree, strawberry pyramid, or other special plants. Flowers are frequently planted among the vegetables, both to attract bees and to provide cut flowers for the home.
The salad garden, consisting of lettuces, radishes, and herbs, may be planted closest to the house to make it easy to run outside and snip some fresh salad for dinner. When walls flank the kitchen garden, such as a garage wall, many gardeners will plant espaliered fruit trees against them.
Additional Garden Layout Ideas
This list of resources will help you when planning, constructing, and caring for your vegetable garden.
- Better Homes and Gardens lists over a dozen plans for various vegetable gardens. They include rooftop and patio gardens in planters, along with full-scale backyard vegetable gardens.
- Colorado State University's Cooperative Extension offers a detailed eight-page PDF that you can download and print. It includes plans for a block-style vegetable garden, with many details to help you grow great vegetables.
- Sustainable Gardening offers a wonderful vegetable garden plan, complete with pictures.
- Illinois Cooperative Extension also offers easy to read tip and advice to help you create your vegetable garden plan.
- Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford offers tips, advice, and ideas for plans on his website.
Gardening Is a Worthwhile Pursuit
No matter what size or type of vegetable garden you choose, you will find that gardening is a worthwhile and relaxing pursuit. The cost savings that result in growing your own food, along with the nutritional benefit you will receive from wholesome homegrown vegetables, makes planning and planting a vegetable garden a great idea for everyone. Choose the style and layout of garden bed that best suits your space, your personal preferences, and your time.