How to Make a Square-Foot Garden

This post is adapted from Partners of the Americas’ Agriculture and Food Security blog.


Have you considered growing your own vegetable garden, but don’t think you have the space?  Square-foot gardens are a useful way for city-dwellers and suburbanites alike to grow fresh, organic vegetables on a budget. The gardens take up as little as 1 meter by 1 meter and can be built using local materials and resources. Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer Arlen Albrecht recently traveled to Guatemala to train urban and rural community members in building square-foot gardens, contributing to their household nutrition and food security. And today, we’re sharing his instructions with you.

7 Easy Steps to Build a Square-Foot Garden

  1. Location – Build the square-foot garden in close proximity to the house for easy access and maintenance. Choose a spot that gets at least 6-8 hours of sun each day and has good drainage.
  2. Size – start with a 1 meter by 1 meter garden. Create a border using wood, bricks, rocks, or other local materials. The size of the garden can be expanded in the future.
  3. Compost – Fill the square-foot garden with compost. In Guatemala, the following organic compost recipe was used:
    • Dry (brown) material (i.e., corn stalks, dry grass, leaves, straw, dried legumes, dried potatoes and tomatoes, etc.)
    • Green material (i.e., banana peels, rotten fruit, vegetable peelings)
    • Cow Manure (i.e., fresh or partially composted)

  1. Grid – Use branches, sticks, or wood to create a grid over the compost. The grid helps to:
    • Align plants
    • Group plants by type
    •  Maintain order
    • Improve general maintenance for growing 
  2. Fencing - Build a fence around the garden to protect it from chickens, rabbits, pigs, or other animals. Use local materials such as branches, large coffee sacks, or bamboo.

  1. Planting and Spacing – Plant seeds using the 1, 4, 9, or 16 method (learn more).
  2. Water, Maintain, Harvest, and Enjoy!