The Beginners Guide to Square Foot Gardening

Square foot gardening is a unique landscaping technique that enables people to make the most of small spaces. It works by using raised garden beds and splitting them into one-foot squares for planting. 

The concept was developed in 1981 by an engineer called Mel Bartholomew, and his goal was to make it possible for anyone to grow herbs, fruit and vegetables regardless of the garden space they have. 

Traditional single row gardening is a less effective way of gardening because it requires more space and is more time-consuming. But Bartholomew worked to put together a fantastic way for everyday people to grow healthy foods. 

When it comes to square foot gardening, there are many things to consider. If you’re just getting started, then in this guide we’re going to reveal how to make square foot gardening work for you. 

Top Tips For Square Foot Gardening

If you’re new to square foot gardening, it can be tricky to know where to start. There are some distinctive techniques you need to master to achieve the best results. We have some excellent tips to help you grow a range of herbs, fruit and vegetables. 

It’s All About The Location

Square foot gardens can only flourish if they’re in the correct location. The two most important factors you should consider are if the surface is flat and whether it gets the right amount of sunlight. 

Choose an area that gets the most light, and make sure you avoid the unstable ground. Look at places in your garden that gather rain, and try to either level them out or find somewhere else to make your raised beds. 

Build Your Raised Beds 

Most gardeners choose a 4X4 configuration for their raised beds because it enables them to reach the plants from all directions and then divide it into sixteen one-foot squares. Once you’ve decided on the side of your garden, it’s time to think about how deep it needs to be. 

For most plants or vegetables, you should make sure your soil is six inches deep, but root vegetables need 12 inches to grow properly. Think about what you want to achieve with your raised beds, and plan accordingly. 

If you’re not sure about which plants or vegetables you’d like to grow, then make sure the beds are deep enough to accommodate your needs and enable you to make decisions at a later date. 

Choosing the Right Soil

A lot of people think they might need a particular soil type for square foot gardening, but you can use anything you have to hand, as long as you make some necessary amendments. Loosen the ground soil and make sure it’s healthy enough to plant your vegetables. 

You should always mix in some compost and test the health of your soil before you plant vegetables. If you’re not sure how to conduct soil testing at home, this useful guide from Good Housekeeping has some simple but effective methods. 

Planting Your Favourite Vegetables 

One of the best things about square foot gardening is the number of vegetables you can plant. It’s a known fact that vegetables provide an abundance of nutrients, and growing them at home means you’re more likely to consume a healthier diet. 

You can choose a range of vegetables to plant, but think about how much care they need to flourish. If you have a hectic lifestyle, it’s best to select low-maintenance options. As we mentioned previously, it’s also essential to prepare your soil, especially if you’re planting root vegetables. 


Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables to plant, and many beginners find they’re also the easiest to care for and maintain. But if you’re growing them in a square foot garden, there are many limitations you should consider. 

Cherry or Roma tomatoes need more squares, but they can grow well if given enough space. Vine tomatoes aren’t suited for this type of gardening because they need a structure for support. 

Maintain Your Garden 

Once you’ve decided which vegetables to plant, you must understand which steps you should take to maintain your garden and make sure the plants flourish. There are four main ways you can take care of your garden, and each is as important as the other. 


To protect your vegetables, you should weed every week. Use scissors to cut your weeds at the base instead of pulling them out at the root. Doing this means you won’t disturb your vegetable roots. 


Watering your plants is essential for their growth, but you mustn’t drown them. Your vegetables need nourishment to flourish, but too much moisture will impact the rate in which they grow. 

Instead of pouring water over the whole grid, take the time to water each square so you can control how much moisture you inject into each area. If it rains, then you won’t need to water your garden, so make sure you check how the moisture of your soil before. 

Control Your Pests 

Pest control doesn’t need to take too much time, as long as you monitor your vegetables regularly. You can use your hands to pick insects off of your plants or use pesticides to destroy them. 

If you’re interested in organic gardening, then it’s best to look for more natural methods to control your pests. 

The Harvesting Process

When you harvest your vegetables, you want to make sure that they’re ready to eat. Ripe vegetables have a freshness to them, and you can pick them, store them, then enjoy them. Don’t harvest your vegetables too early, but don’t leave them for too long either. 


Square foot gardening offers so many possibilities to grow your vegetables and live a healthier lifestyle. The best thing is, you don’t need lots of space or money to begin building your raised beds. 

There are plenty of landscaping companies that offer advice and design services to help you create edible gardens that deliver a range of fruits, herbs and vegetables. Once you begin growing your own food, you’ll live a happier and healthier lifestyle. 

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