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Saturday, May 28, 2011

How wide should the paths be in a vegetable garden?

"How wide should the paths be in a vegetable garden?"

Gardeners everywhere are asking.

If they are too narrow, they are useless to all but the ants and coons.

If they are too wide, you've wasted valuable planting space.

Many people think they have the answer to this question.

Some people say the paths should be wide enough for two people to walk side by side. That may be true if the path is designed for ambling through the garden arm in arm with someone else, but who goes ambling arm in arm with someone through a vegetable garden?

Some people advocate for narrow paths, barely wide enough for you to shuffle sideways through the garden so you have more planting space.  That makes it too hard to get around in the garden and so you won't get around and you'll abandon your garden, the weeds will take over, everyone will think it is ugly and no one will encourage you to plant another vegetable garden ever. "You'll just let it be taken over by weeds", they'll say, and you may never try to grow vegetables again.

Others suggest the paths needs to be wide enough for you to kneel in front of one bad without crunching the bed behind you with your backside.

Balderdash to all those answers! I've determined the perfect width for the paths in my vegetable garden and it is...

19 inches.

How did I choose 19 inches, you ask?

That's the width of the stand, the legs, the whatever you call them, on my wheelbarrow, plus a half inch on either side to set them down.
My wheelbarrow in the garden last year. It is 24 years old and still going strong.
Perfect. Brilliant. Now, I can confidently finish laying out the beds in the vegetable garden cathedral and finally plant.

16 comments:

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I was going to say mine are as wide as my garden cart to come through. We sit on the edge of the beds as if they were benches too.~~Dee

Gail said...

Making it as wide as a garden cart and a few inches more, in case the next cart is wider, is a smart decision gail

wilderness said...

The most important thing to remember no matter how wide or narrow your path is it should be wide enough that when you walk through the garden you are not walking close enough to the plant to compact the dirt around the roots.

Melissa said...

And I used 16" paver's to determine the width of mine....only cause it's the greenhouse...no wheel barrel enters there....but I like your measuring tool and will keep that in mind.

Molly said...

Because my paths are grass, the raised beds are a mower-width apart--24".

Limette said...

Ours are two feet. It's the smallest our tractor guy could do.

Jenni@ RainyDayGardener said...

Cute post Carol and quite sensible!

susan in western NC said...

I tried 18" and found it to be just too narrow since plants-especially raspberries--sometimes reach out over the edges of the beds. 24" works for me. Too much and you're wasting space for sure.

ProfessorRoush said...

I would have said that the width of the path needed depends on the width of the gardener :)

Ramona said...

My paths are about 2 feet wide and that seems like the minimum width I would do for the garden. I have raised beds though.

Patsy Bell Hobson said...

All this science and research! My paths are " 'bout this wide" I would guess.

Bom said...

That is certainly the most logical thinking. Make a path or road wide enough to accommodate what will use it. You had me smiling though.

Shyrlene said...

Excellent thought process! (Professor Roush did make me smile with his feedback - clever!)

Søren said...

My answer would be different, at my vegetable garden is currently just a set of raised beds in my lawn. This means my paths need to be 60cm/25" to allow the lawn mower to squeeze through. (And obviously this also leaves room for the wheel barrow to get through easily.)

Librarian D.O.A. said...

I used my wheelbarrow to measure the distance between my beds as well:)

Lisa said...

Like Soren, mine are raised beds. But, unlike Soren, I don't have to mow between beds. Some have chips between them and under 2' of space, others dirt or weeds (depending on season!) and about 2'. That is enough for me since I don't use a wheelbarrow in the raised bed area.