Skip to Content

Plant Spacing in Square Foot Gardens

Are you wondering how far apart to space your plants? This post shares helpful tools and guidelines for plant spacing in square foot gardens.

The first gardening class I attended was about square foot gardening. I soaked it all in and then bought Mel Bartholomew’s “Square Foot Gardening” book. One of the concepts I loved was the simplicity of plant spacing in square foot gardens. 

plant spacing in square foot gardens

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for more information.


How do you space plants in square foot gardening?

A key factor in being successful with plant spacing in square foot gardening is adding a grid to your garden. Mel Bartholomew said, “If your garden box doesn’t have a grid, it’s not a Square Foot Garden.”  His book also emphasized that the grids be “prominent and permanent”. I have come to see the wisdom in this tip.


Why use grids for plant spacing in square foot gardens?

Why use grids for plant spacing in square foot gardens?

In the past, I had some garden beds with grids and some without grids. After using both, I can say the ones with grids have several advantages

Why use grids for plant spacing in square foot gardens?
  • Garden beds with planting grids utilize space more efficiently by eliminating the need for rows.
  • Using a garden grid helps you see exactly where there is space to plant. When I see an empty square, I’m quick to fill it with seeds or plants. In the past, empty spots in beds without grids were often left empty.
  • Garden grids help an unorganized gardener (like me) be more organized – I don’t have to worry about straight rows. 
Why use grids for plant spacing in square foot gardens?
  • Following plant-spacing guidelines with garden grids allows for proper spacing between plants. This prevents overcrowding, which causes plants to compete for limited resources of sun, water, and nutrients. 
  • Using garden grids in your garden beds allows for a system of polyculture (several compatible plants growing together) as opposed to monoculture (row after row of the same crop) which is better for pest and disease prevention.
Plant Spacing in Square Foot Gardens


Which type of garden grids should I use for square foot gardening?

Once I realized the benefits of using grids with square foot gardening, I added grids to all of my raised beds. My favorite way to add grids for square foot gardening is with the Garden Grid™ from Garden In Minutes.


The benefits of using the Garden Grid™ from Garden In Minutes include:

  • The grids are prominent and easy to see. 
  • Assembly is simple; the garden grids come in preassembled sections that press together by hand in seconds.
  • At the end of each season, it’s easy to lift the grid off of the bed to add compost to fill the beds. With my previous grids made of wood, it was difficult to add compost because the grids were screwed into the beds. 
  • Each square is watered evenly with 16 water streams, which helps seed germination.


How do I know how many seeds or plants to put in each square?

Now for the fun part – adding plants to your square foot garden. To calculate how many plants or seeds to plant per square, look at the back of your seed packet. Ignore the space between rows, but pay attention to how much space is needed between plants.

Now for the fun part - adding plants to your square foot garden. To calculate how many plants or seeds to plant per square, look at the back of your seed packet. Ignore the space between rows, but pay attention to how much space is needed between plants.

For example:

3″ plant spacing = plant 16 in each square.

4″ plant spacing = plant 9 in each square.

6″ plant spacing = plant 4 in each square.

12″ plant spacing = plant 1 in each square.

Some plants (such as melons, large squash, and tomatoes) require more than one square.

Now for the fun part - adding plants to your square foot garden. To calculate how many plants or seeds to plant per square, look at the back of your seed packet. Ignore the space between rows, but pay attention to how much space is needed between plants.

Square Foot Gardening Tips

Use this tool to space seeds perfectly in your square foot garden. 


Plant-spacing guidelines for garden grids

You can also use this plant-spacing guide from Garden In Minutes to easily see how many plants to plant per square.  

Plant spacing guide for square foot gardens
Plant spacing guide for square foot gardens

Why is plant spacing important in square foot gardens?

Follow the plant-spacing guidelines. Planting the recommended amounts allows you to utilize all the space in the beds without overcrowding. Proper spacing ensures adequate airflow for plants.  

Follow the plant-spacing guidelines. Planting the recommended amounts allows you to utilize all the space in the beds without overcrowding. Proper spacing ensures adequate airflow for plants.  

Follow the plant-spacing guidelines. Planting the recommended amounts allows you to utilize all the space in the beds without overcrowding. Proper spacing ensures adequate airflow for plants.  



If this post about plant spacing in square foot gardens was helpful, please share it:


Jim Fossum

Monday 18th of March 2024

Do you have a best practice for taking the SqFt philosophy into container gardening like grow bags? Is it just best to just go by the spacing rec on the packs and improvise for rounded corners or is there something else you can add to this?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 19th of March 2024

Great question. Yes, go by spacing recommendations and then take advantage of those rounded corners–they are excellent spots for planting trailing herbs and flowers.

Debbie Hires

Wednesday 10th of January 2024

Angela, I have a really dumb question. I am ordering the GIM water grids and wondering what you do when you have a plant that requires more than one square. If it hits the middle do you plant it close to the grid line covering that middle spot? Just curious how you handle these situations to get the optimum growth and watering needed.

Debbie Hires

Friday 2nd of February 2024

@Angela Judd, Thank you for the reply. Debbie

Angela Judd

Thursday 11th of January 2024

That's a great question. I usually do like you say and plant it close to the grid line in the middle spot.

April

Thursday 10th of August 2023

Ho long and often do you typically water in the summer months? Im in Peoria and I struggle with watering my garden.

Angela Judd

Monday 14th of August 2023

During this heatwave I've been watering every other day.

Praveen

Thursday 23rd of September 2021

Hi Angela, Thanks for the wonderful posts. I moved to a new build house recently and I am planning to use the big side yard area for vegetables. Using excavators, I have dug two areas of four feet width and 12 inches depth (One had 45 feet length and another is about 30 ft). Now I am thinking to fill these with good soil/compost/mulch and start going through your monthly vegetable list to find right veggies for the month. Do you have any advice on: 1) Which kind of soil should I use to fill this? 2) Is there optimal ratio of different kinds of soil? 3) I am planning to have irrigation setup. Do you have any advice on the drainage?

Thanks

Angela Judd

Saturday 25th of September 2021

Hi a combination of mostly compost with some perlite or vermiculite and worm castings mixed in would be a great way to fill your beds up. (Arizona Worm Farm has all of those individually) Keep an eye on your watering - you will probably have to water less than in other types of beds.

Caitlin Wood

Tuesday 7th of September 2021

How long are you running the water for these grids? Sept

Angela Judd

Wednesday 8th of September 2021

About 10 minutes every other day or every third day. Also, we've had quite a bit of rain this year, so they are turned off for a few days if we get rain.