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Keyhole Garden: Making the Bed

September 10, 2010
Keyhole Garden Bed

A keyhole garden is a permaculture garden design meant to increase the amount of space available for plants by decreasing the area reserved for pathways.  Some challenge the space saving virtues of this design; I like it because it gives a beautiful twist to traditional raised-bed gardens.  The shape of this non-framed raised-bed mimics natural curves and is an attractive variation of rectangular garden beds.   

How to create your keyhole garden:

1.  Mark out the design

Steak out the design or draw it right into the soil.  Our design called for an eleven foot diameter, or a radius of 5 1/2 feet.  In order to mark out the perimeter of the design, it is easiest to use the radius.  We had one person hold the measuring tape at a center point while another person walked in a circle with the end, marking 5 1/2 feet.  After marking the outer circle, you can follow the same procedure to lay out the center circle.  Finally measure and mark the pathway.       

2.  Define the shape 

With the design now laid out, you can dig out the surrounding soil and place it on top of your future garden bed.  In our case, the area surrounding the keyhole garden bed will be a pathway.  We dug up about an inch of soil from the path and put this soil on the garden bed. 

3.  Rake it flat 

Once all of the soil from the outer paths and the center keyhole path has been shoveled into the garden bed you can rake the soil so that it is level.  The sides of the garden bed may have a slight slope to it- that’s ok! 

4. Sheet mulch it

Read all about sheet mulching, visit Keyhole Garden: Feeding the Soil!

The following slide show illustrates the creation of a keyhole garden bed. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jean-Paul Collaert permalink
    December 15, 2010 4:05 am

    hello,
    I am a french gardening journalist, and also author of several books on this subject. Through Internet, I discovered your work and especially the Keyhole garden, an innovative way to garden in difficult environments. I’d like to talk about in my next book, devoted to ingenious gardening, published by Larousse. Can you send me some pictures. I will cite the source and talk about your action.
    Sincerely
    Jean-Paul Collaert
    jean-paul.collaert@wanadoo.fr

    • December 22, 2010 12:06 pm

      Jean-Paul, thanks so much for your comment! I am glad that you like the garden design. We will be in touch via e-mail!

  2. February 20, 2011 8:48 pm

    I like the bed you made. We are using multiple beds for large community gardens. 32 beds in all.
    Do you have images of the plantings and seasons?

    Thanks,

    Dan

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