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How to Plant a Compact Vegetable Garden

What makes this compact garden so productive is that you will be placing plants close together in squares instead of traditional rows. You can continue to plant as you harvest.


What You’ll Need

  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Shovel
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape measure
  • 4 4-foot 2-by-10’s
  • 16d galvanized nails
  • 2 6-foot 2-by-4’s
  • 4-foot 2-by-4
  • 49 feet of 12-gauge galvanized wire, cut into 7 7-foot lengths
  • 8d galvanized nails
  • About 1/2 cubic yard or 14 cubic feet of good garden soil
  • A sunny spot for your garden

What You’ll Do


1. Using the 2-by-10’s and 16d nails, hammer together a 4-foot square.


2. Nail the 6-foot 2-by-4’s to the back of the frame.

3. Nail the 4-foot 2-by-4 across the back of the uprights.

4. Attach the 7 wires on the back of the trellis by wrapping wires around nails.



Fill the frame with good garden soil. Divide it into 16 squares. The smaller the mature plant, the more you can plant in each square.

A Helpful Garden

Nail 5/8-inch or heavier exterior plywood to the bottom of the frame and lift the frame to table height by placing it on sturdy saw horses or legs. Once filled with soil, it will be easily accessible to a person in a wheelchair or someone who is more comfortable sitting than kneeling.

More Go Green! projects:

18 Comments on How to Plant a Compact Vegetable Garden

  1. Could you use the wavy roof material for the bottom… drill drain holes every so often, line with a small layer of stones and brace three times with treated wood on the bottom side?

  2. Close planting (“overplanting”) doesn’t give weeds much room. I did this kind of garden once in a 7′ X 3′ plot outside my breakfast room window and grew the climbers on strings tacked to the window-frame. It was lush and wonderful!

  3. Why would you put Broccoli near Tomato? Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc, as well as potatoes, inhibit tomato growth. Use basil, or something else that compliments tomatoes.

  4. way to small for all those plants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I love to bake by trade but am really excited to try my hand at a garden. Love to cook and my grandchildren are excited to eat veggies that we grow at home.

    • Nope. These are correct, except for the leaf lettuce which would be 4 per square. You could actually put in 16 carrots instead of the 9 shown. This is Square Foot Gardening and has been proven for 40 years.

  6. It looks really great, but i’ve always learned that the combination tomato/cucumber very unfortunate is!

  7. Seems kind of crowded, but I like the idea. I made some garden boxes today using the composite wood. Didn’t want to use pressure/green treated wood due to chemicals.

  8. Michelle // May 4, 2013 at 5:55 pm // Reply

    You can use rough-sawn hemlock from a local mill, it is naturally rot-resistant. Even regular pine should last a few years.

  9. Instead of using a tarp to controll weeds cover bottom of area with cardboard. It will allow water to drain and when it breaks down it becomes part of the soil

  10. You do need to allow for drainage and should not use pressure treated wood.

    • Firestation23 // June 26, 2013 at 1:47 am // Reply

      Do not use green pressure treated lumber because it will leach into the soil. However, there is a red/brown pressure treated out there now that is not suppose to be toxic.

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