Square Foot Gardening – A How To Guide

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Have you heard of square foot gardening? Square foot gardening is the practice of dividing a growing area into smaller square sections. The goal of this is to assist the planning and creating of a small but intensively planted garden.

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Your garden usually starts with a 4×4 raised garden bed filled with amended soil. Once you place your soil you then subdivide it into 1-foot squares with some sort of marker. This will optimize your space so that you can grow more.  According to Wikipedia, the term “square foot gardening” was coined in 1981.


To learn more how to make a square foot garden please follow the steps below:

Make Sure to Pick the Right Location

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Picking the correct location is definitely the starting point of your square foot gardening bed. Your garden will need to be made where it can get at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun per day. You also want to make sure that the ground where you choose to make this is relatively flat. It is also important that you steer clear of places where you might have puddles after a hard rain. Choosing spots near your home may be easier in regards to watering and other plant care.

Build your Raised Garden Bed

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Once you pick the perfect location it is time to start building your flower bed. The best option would be a raised garden bed that is 4×4 feet.  This size will divide easily into a grid of sixteen 1×1 foot squares. You should make the sides at least 6 inches deep (if you are growing root vegetables such as carrots the sides should be 12 inches deep).

In order to make your bed, you should purchase four planter wall blocks and four 4 foot long 2x6s. When building set your blocks around 4 feet apart on level ground to create a square. Then you will connect the two blocks by sliding the 2×6 board into the 2-inch slots. Repeat these steps with the remaining boards. To make sure your garden bed is durable it is best to opt for pressure-treated lumber or cedar.

Add the Soil

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Now that you have built your bed it is time to fill it with soil. You should start by loosening and aerating the ground soil. Once you have done that you can mix in compost and topsoil to fill your frame. Make sure you blend your ingredients well or you can purchase high-quality bagged garden soil and fill your bed with that.

Separate your Box into Squares

There are many ways you can create the square grid and it is a matter of preference and style. Some examples would be to use lattice strips, PVC pipes, or even string. At this point, if you like you can add a thin layer of mulch to the prepared garden to help conserve the soil moisture and slow down the growth of any weeds.

Plant your Vegetables

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Now that you have built your bed and added your soil it is time to start planting. Your planting formula should be as follows: one extra-large plant per 1×1 foot square; nine medium plants per square; 16 small plants per square; and four large plants per square. If you are building more than one bed you should make sure to leave enough room in between them to roll a wheelbarrow through. Please also remember that vegetables or fruits that spread (think watermelons) will require a separate bed.

How to Maintain Your Garden

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You should water your square foot garden once you feel the soil drying. It is best to water each plant one by one using a small container to water instead of watering from overhead. You will need to water the plants more often on hot or windy days because the soil dries out faster.

You should also aim to weed your garden about once a week. You should pull the weeds when they are small or use scissors to cut them at the base.  

That is it. You have now created a beautiful square foot garden that will keep your plants beautiful and healthy year after year. If you loved this, we think you might find our list of popular garden tools handy. Happy planting!


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