How To Plan a Square Foot Garden

Updated: Jul 25

It’s been a common buzzword in the garden industry for years. Some claim that it has even revolutionized the world of small space gardening everywhere!


Square Foot Gardening doesn’t take a high level of imagination, a large yard space or a great deal of plants. You don’t even have to be a master gardener! But, it’ll still land you with an eye-pleasing, space-saving, productive garden.


You’re probably thinking “well if it’s that fantastic, sign me up!” So, keep reading for everything you need to know on how to plan a square foot garden in your own space with the help of Smart Plant Home!


What Is Square Foot Gardening?

Welcome to the world full of garden grids, raised beds and plant spacing– we’re so glad you’re here. As you may have guessed, a square foot garden planner is growing plants in specific squares.. in a raised bed (not entirely the rocket science you were hoping for).


It’s commonly paired with garden beds, herbs and vegetables as a way to grow a small, highly productive yet orderly garden that uses square footage as a measurement of space.


Even if you have a large yard space, you can plan a macro square foot garden! This simply involves having several beds at a large scale.


Instead of having walkways that can be overpowered by weeds, square foot gardening incorporates a grid pattern that uses every inch of space for the plants you actually want to be growing.


The iconic planting method was first developed by an American TV presenter and author, Mel Bartholomew back in the 1970s. To him, gardening was merely a hobby as he was a full time engineer.


It was only natural that he would soon combine his two worlds.


He was looking for a way to create an easy-to-manage garden that needs minimum care. And we think he nailed it on the head!


The Benefits


There are many benefits to following the square foot method:


Increase Your Yield


Since you’re growing in a raised bed, the garden soil generally has a higher quality. Raised beds allow for proper drainage, aeration and nutrients! Therefore, the quality of soil paired with the quantity being planted will produce a higher yield come harvest. Growing your own food has never been easier.


Minimalistic


The less is more concept of being minimalistic really shows through square foot gardening. You’re able to produce more yields in a small backyard while getting rid of anything that is unnecessary to grow. These types of gardens also can incorporate simple garden beds and don’t require a lot of maintenance.


Easy To Maintain


We can’t stress enough that this gardening concept is SO easy to maintain and works wonders for limited spaces. Since the plants are close together in a small area, the care is easier to manage. Imagine only having to weed out a raised bed rather than a full backyard.


Setting Up Your Square Foot Garden


1. Get Your Grow Space


First, you’ll need a Raised Bed or planter. If you’re placing one on top of other soil, it's a good idea to lay down a weed barrier fabric to prevent weeds from growing up underneath.


2. Place in Your Preferred Soil


Fill your box with fertile potting soil almost completely to the top.


3. Lay Out Your Grid


They are typically simple to make and merely a homemade measuring tool. Craft your grid by measuring out square foot-sized boxes. Normally a thin slat of wood is used. Then, overlay your square foot grid on top of your box to outline the plant spacing.


If you would like, fasten your grid with a small screw on each intersection. If you’re not a common wood worker, no worries! These grids can be purchased online as well.


We suggest preplanning a square foot gardening chart too. This simply involves writing out what your vision is for the garden! The image below gives you an example of what planning a detailed spacing chart could look like.



4. Place In The Seeds & Watch The Growth


Now the bed is ready for the seeds! Depending on what you're planting, where and how big the plant can grow, the amount of seeds placed in 1 square foot can differentiate.


We suggest doing some research on the herbs, vegetables, plants or even fruit you have chosen to grow to see how many seeds you should place in a square (that is what the numbers in the chart above are symbolizing).


Some plants, such as tomatoes, can be grown vertically on supports too! Below we have highlighted the most common plants for square foot gardens and how many you should likely plant in each box. If you don’t see your plants, research!


Otherwise, place your seeds in a created hole and water. Then, watch them grow!


1 Seed Per Square

Form one hold in the center of the foot by foot square for the seed.


  • Lettuce (head)

  • Peppers

  • Tomato Plant (staked)

  • Parsley

  • Oregano

  • Potatoes

2 Seeds Per Square

Plant the seeds side by side within the square.


  • Pumpkins

  • Watermelon

  • Cantaloupe

  • Cucumbers

Up To 4 Seeds Per Square

Place the seeds in each of the four corners at equal distances from each other and the grid border.


  • Basil

  • Garlic

  • Onion Bulbs

  • Lettuce (leaf)

The Basic Rules To Follow + Tips For Success

It’s important that you execute your garden grid to its full potential– that way you get the most out of your hard work! Here are some quick tips to help you have success:


  • Invest in soil that is water retentive and nutrient rich to fill the bed. Things to look for are peat moss, weed free, compost and fertilizing.

  • Instead of pulling up the plants that are excess, thin them with scissors.

  • Implement crop rotation and even companion planting to keep your soil at a high quality.

  • Keep height in mind at all times when planting. If you’re planting short plants with taller ones, plant the taller ones on the north side of your bed to ensure equal sun exposure.


Now, you’re ready to be a pro square foot backyard gardener! Ready to take the next step? Visit NatureHills.com for all your square foot garden needs including raised beds, soils and the quality plants!


And, to ensure a greater chance at success, download the Smart Plant and Tree Care app to get support from real plant experts. Load your square foot garden plants into a digital library and receive advice on how to continue caring for them!


About the Author



Hi, my name is Kaitlynn Simon and I work for Nature Hills Online Nursery! I graduated from Midland University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Marketing and Management and now, I am a full time Email Marketing Manager and part time plant enthusiast. When I am not at work marketing extraordinary plants, I am at home growing them! Once you buy one houseplant, there is no stopping. Connect with me on LinkedIn to see more of what I do!

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