Square Foot Gardening Versus Planting In Rows (2024)

Row gardening is a style of growing vegetables that people have been using for hundreds of years. It is literally a tried and true traditional method of planting crops and comes with the stamp of approval of generations of successful gardeners. Rows are easier to construct, make reaching all plants a breeze, and can even make watering easier and more efficient - but that doesn't mean it can't be improved upon. Today, gardeners don't usually have access to a large garden plot; in fact, many folks make do with a tiny area off a condo patio or even high atop an apartment building. What makes these smaller spaces functional and fruitful? Square foot gardening. Space issues aren't the only reasons to plant by the foot, however. There are numerous square foot gardening benefits too, and here we will discuss both sides, weighing the pros of row gardening against the square foot gardening method. Pros of Square Foot Gardening Amy's viewpoint: First off, a square foot garden is simply a raised box or bed that is divided into squares. The beds can be 2 feet by 2 feet or 4 x 12, but the most common is a bed that is 4 feet by 4 feet. This allows plants to be situated more closely together. The idea of dividing the planting area into squares makes it more efficient than row planting. It also takes much less room, a boon to those with limited garden space. Accessibility. Another advantage to square foot gardening is its accessibility. Raised beds allow those with difficulty bending to access the garden. The smaller footprint also makes it easier to maneuver around and harvest and is less daunting to the novice gardener. With square foot gardening, the soil doesn't compact since you never walk inside the squares and is useful for those with less than ideal soil. It also drains better. Because you are planting in blocks and plants are situated more closely together than those in rows, the higher density planting allows for higher yields. It is also easier to water a blocked planting than a row garden. Fertilizing is also easier and more efficient. Easy maintenance. Another benefit of densely planted square foot gardens is less weeding! The entirety of the garden is dedicated to crops, leaving little room for weeds. Each area of the square foot garden is destined for a specific use. Build trellises at the north end of the bed for vining plants or those you wish to grow vertically, like summer squash or cucumbers, and you can maximize the space even more. Additionally, it is easier to manage and control pests in a square foot garden. Controlling pests and managing irrigation are key ingredients to combating diseases, thus mitigating the need for extraneous insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals. They look good anywhere. Its decorative aspect is yet another benefit to consider. Planting boxes can be bought or built out of many materials and make lovely additions to the landscape. Plus, they don't require digging up a large garden space and yielding the landscape design to a vegetable garden. They can be placed in areas of full sun that a row garden isn't accessible to. A square foot garden can even be planted on a driveway, parking strip or the aforementioned high rise apartment building. Continuous planting. Lastly, raised gardens warm faster, allowing for earlier planting and harvest. The beauty of planting a square foot bed is that you can have a continuous succession of plantings going from the earliest spring through to the latest cool weather crops in the late fall/early winter. As one square has finished producing, plant another crop so there is a continuous profusion of produce to select from, lengthening the growing season for as long as possible. Of course, it goes without saying that a few downsides of square foot planting exist. It is an investment. The construction price or cost to purchase the boxes combined with buying soil and seeds can seem extravagant, but consider this as an initial cost that you will continue to use for years. Unfortunately, a few years are probably all you have until a box needs to be replaced or repaired and the soil needs to be replenished (ideally annually). Also, not all types of vegetables work well in the confined space of square foot boxes. Big crops such as corn, watermelon and potatoes don't always work well in this smaller space. Reasons to Plant by the Foot Mary Ellen's viewpoint: Sure, there is no arguing that a square foot garden does have its share of benefits to the home gardener with little space. That said, there are just as many reasons to plant in rows. Easily reach everything. With a row of plants, you can easily reach each and every one of them. While you can also reach everything in a square plan, you may struggle to get to those in the middle without crushing the outer edge plants. Being able to reach all your plants means you can keep the garden weeded and harvest more easily too. Grow more, harvest more. If you have the space for it, row gardening allows you to plant more and harvest more vegetables. Squares are limited because if they are too big, you can't reach the plants in the middle. You are also limited in the amount of plants/veggies you can grow in the given space. Get good weed cover with wide rows. Row gardening doesn't have to be narrow. Wide rows are especially good for leafy vegetables, like chard and lettuce. These plants grow quickly to produce a covering that blocks the growth of weeds. Flood or drip irrigate. With row gardening, you can make watering easier by installing a hose along each row for drip irrigation, or by using flood irrigation if that is an option in your garden. Either way, you'll water more quickly and thoroughly than is possible with square gardening. Not all vegetables fit in a box. Gardening in rows gives you more space to grow larger vegetables that won't fit neatly in a square or box. As previously mentioned, this includes corn and watermelon, two popular garden crops. How Do Benefits of Planting in Rows Compare to Square Foot Gardening? If you have limited space, square gardening may be right for you. However, given the freedom of space, most gardeners choose rows. Wide rows and narrow rows alike allow for easier and more efficient growing and harvesting of vegetables. Rows in the garden look nice too, and with so many reasons to go for rows, why wouldn't you? Then again, the initial investment of a square foot garden is a worthwhile cost for easier access and harvest of a more environmentally friendly garden. One that works for today's world where space is at a premium and access to foods we trust are grown as cleanly as possible. With a square foot garden, everyone can have their little piece of heaven, one square foot at a time.

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Square Foot Gardening Versus Planting In Rows (2024)


Is it better to plant in rows or groups? ›

However, given the freedom of space, most gardeners choose rows. Wide rows and narrow rows alike allow for easier and more efficient growing and harvesting of vegetables.

Does square foot gardening really work? ›

The Bottom Line. Square foot gardening is a solid gardening method for any home gardener, especially beginners and people who are short on space. The drawbacks (while real) all have fairly simple solutions. Of course, it's all about your individual needs and preferences, but if it interests you, we say give it a whirl!

Is it better to plant in rows or blocks? ›

Yields will be higher by planting in blocks, and more garden space will be devoted to production and less to unnecessary walking (and hoeing) space.

What are the disadvantages of square foot gardening? ›

Drawbacks of Square Foot Gardening

Also, be sure to water whenever the top inch of soil is dry. It's worth noting, too, that traditional square foot gardens are only 6 inches deep, which is too shallow for many plants. Vegetables need plenty of space to stretch their roots and absorb nutrients from the soil.

What is the best layout for a garden? ›

As a general rule, put tall veggies toward the back of the bed, mid-sized ones in the middle, and smaller plants in the front or as a border. Consider adding pollinator plants to attract beneficial insects that can not only help you get a better harvest, but will also prey on garden pests.

What is the rule of 3 planting? ›

Three plants creates balance

Though three can be tricky in human relationships, this number fits expertly in a landscape. The trick is in the arrangement. Three plants in a row is dull because you know what to expect. If you have enough space, group them in an equilateral triangle.

What is the best layout for a square foot garden? ›

To keep the planting simple, there are no plant spacings to remember. Instead, each square has either 1, 4, 9, or 16 plants in it, depending on the size of the plant—easy to position in each square by making a smaller grid in the soil with your fingers.

What is one of the advantages of square foot gardening? ›

The Square Foot Gardening Method™ saves gardeners time, effort, tools, space and water. The Square Foot Gardening Method is estimated to cost 50% less, uses 20% less space, 10% of the water, and only 2% of the work compared to single row gardening.

What is the ratio for square foot gardening? ›

The formula for planting is simple: one extra-large plant per 1x1-foot square, four large plants per square, nine medium plants per square, and 16 small plants per square. Here are some ideas for filling the squares: One vine tomato, pepper plant, or eggplant. Four bush tomatoes, heads of cabbage, or heads of lettuce.

Why do people plant in rows? ›

Not only can it keep your plants sorted by kind, it also provides them with space to grow and better access to water and the harvesting equipment! to harvest the crops, the equipment is built to work with crop that are planted in rows! Creating raised rows, just like a raised vegetable bed prevents damage to roots.

What are the benefits of row gardening? ›

They can provide more room for crops that take up a lot of space or require extra support, like trellises or tomato cages. Rows also allow gardeners to hoe around the roots and mound up soil for better water retention.

Why do farmers plant in rows? ›

For the most part, farmers plant crops in rows or straight lines for convenience and optimum harvest. When crops are planted in rows, light absorption is maximized and wind passage between rows is enhanced, which increases air circulation and lessens the chance of wind damage to plants.

Does square foot gardening have to be in raised beds? ›

Certainly you can apply the principals of square foot gardening without doing a raised bed . The raised beds do serve a function and help produce better vegetables. With a raised bed you build your bed on top of your existing topsoil and add more soil to fill in your raised bed.

Do you need to rotate crops in square foot gardening? ›

For best results, you should always rotate all your plants. Disease-causing organisms gradually accumulate in the soil over a period of time.

Is square foot gardening the same as intensive gardening? ›

Intensive gardening is a generic term used to describe methods of maximizing the garden space you use to grow your plants. Square foot gardening, an intensive gardening technique, was popularized by Mel Bartholomew in his book Square Foot Gardening.

Do plants grow better in groups or alone? ›

A new study found that plants grown next to certain other plants are healthier than those grown in isolation.

What is the best way to organize house plants? ›

Here are our best tips to pep up your indoor garden.
  1. Arrange your plants on various levels. ...
  2. Spotlight on mini or oversized plants. ...
  3. Create a green wall indoors. ...
  4. Cascade design. ...
  5. Containers have their importance too! ...
  6. Imagine each plant as a decorating item. ...
  7. Match materials and patterns. ...
  8. Forget about alignment, focus on grouping!

Is it better to group plants together? ›

Grouping plants with similar care requirements also makes sense, especially if they love humidity. Moisture levels rise when plants sit closely together, so your lush mini jungle stands a better chance of thriving.

Do plants grow better together or separate? ›

Trees grown in proximity tend to use less energy maintaining a neutral temperature than single trees, allowing them to commit more energy to growth. Additionally, the sequestering of carbon dioxide becomes more efficient when plants band together, leading to richer soil which aids growth significantly.

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