Garden Design Update: I Have Seen The Plans

I have seen the future of my garden, and I like it.

The Garden Designer and her Partner in Digging returned Monday evening with garden plans to review and discuss. The Garden Designer went over a detailed plan for the front and a concept plan for the back. I like what I saw. The future looks very bright for my garden. The ball is rolling, as they say, and I’m excited about all of the next steps.

Over the next several weeks, we will move on to cost estimates, patio design, refined plant lists, and hopefully soon, put a shovel in the ground and get started.

In the meantime, I’m going to work on the vegetable garden, which will remain where it is.

I read some interesting ideas in the book the Garden Designer left me, Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway, and have decided to apply one concept, that of keyhole gardens, to the arrangement of the beds in the vegetable garden, if I can do it before the May planting season arrives. Many of the wood sides of the beds need to be replaced anyway, so would it be that much more work to move the beds?

That’s a rhetorical question, you don’t need to remind me of how much more work it could be to move the beds.

Let's make that a "maybe I’ll move the beds around". We’ll see how much time I have in April to do such a project.

The concept of a keyhole garden is to arrange the garden beds like keyholes to increase square footage but maintain the same accesibility to all sides of the raised bed. A simple example is if you have two 4’ x 8’ beds with 4’ paths all the way around them, you will have 64 sq. ft. of planting area and be able to reach across all the beds to the center of those beds.

But if you take the same 4’ x 8’ beds and add a 4’ x ‘4 bed between them at one end to form a “U” shape, you now have another 16 sq. ft. of planting area, plus you can still reach into the center of each bed, from all sides. You’ve formed a key hole of sorts to get to some of those areas.  My example is squared off, but many keyhole gardens are round.

Does that make sense?

Many keyhole gardens are also raised up three feet or more to allow you to reach the beds without bending or stooping. I don’t plan to raise my beds to that level, but I think I’ll try to carefully reposition them to use the concept of a keyhole for accessibility, to see how much more planting area I can add. Of course, I have to do this without messing up the peas, sweet peas, lettuce and spinach that I’ve already planted.

And while I’m at it, I’m going to move the compost pile to another location in the garden so it isn’t so visible from the house. That’s on the garden plan, too.

Or maybe I’ll work out the arrangement for the garden this spring and summer, and move the actual beds this fall after I've harvested everything?  Yes, I think that is the more practical approach.  I'll work out the layout,  grow the garden, harvest from it, and then in the fall, which is a much better time of year for that kind of work, I'll rearrange the beds to better utilize that space.


  1. Can't wait to see photos of how your garden changes this year!

  2. Wow...the picture of flower looks awesome on your blog.Flowers bring so much joy to those who have the time enjoy them.

  3. How exciting to have a plan. You can mull over the reshaping of your veggie garden all summer. It's gonna be a good gardening year with all this activity in the garden.

  4. The keyhole garden makes alot of sense. But I agree with you to mull it over during the summer and do the work in the fall when you're cleaning everything up anyways. Can't wait to see the plans in place.

  5. I just had a light bulb moment reading about the keyhole concept. I could have a lot more space by just digging up some of my paths at the ends of the beds. Brilliant! Thanks!

    Looking forward to seeing your progress with the new design.

  6. You do have a bit of drama going on in your garden...This is going to be a great journey and we are lucky to be accompanying you as you make these changes....gail

  7. Because a section of The Potager was too crowded last year I've been rethinking the layout - and a keyhole might solve the problem with very little work to rearrange. Thanks.

  8. I love that concept! And I think waiting til fall makes sense, considering you'll be super busy in April. I also can't wait to hear about the design for your front yard.

  9. The plans sound really interesting. What an exciting time you'll have in coming months! It will be almost equally as exciting for your readers to follow your progress.

  10. Can't wait to see the garden redesign start! Definetely wait until fall to move the beds though. I like the keyhole concept.

  11. How exciting! I'm looking forward to following the progress through your photos and blog.

  12. How exciting - I love new projects in the garden. I was lucky enough to start with a neglected but previously loved garden this time, and have really enjoyed shaping it over the last 2 years. i look forward to following your progress

  13. I hadn't heard of the keyhole design, but that makes a lot of sense for increasing square footage. Having a plan is an exciting moment. I look forward to seeing your changes. Be sure to take lots of before and after images.

  14. Carol this so exciting to watch I can't wait to see the photos, Never heard of the Keyhole design but I'm going to learn but watching you...

  15. Great post
    You don,t need a degree in landscape architecture to give shape to your garden - just a bit of inspiration and a rudimntary knowledge of elbow grease! Good luck


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