Although it is a concept that has been around for some time now, square foot gardening has not taken root or has not been embraced by majority of homeowners and in particular those living in cities and other urban areas. This is a gardening concept that involves creating smaller gardens out of a bigger one, small gardens that are planted intensively with specific crops, mostly vegetables. This concept is similar to the concept of gardening using raised beds that allow for growing of plants above the ground.

The concept of gardening in squares was established by one Mel Bartholomew who after retiring and moving to Long Island became eager to embark on a hobby that would occupy most of his time; gardening but in a different way. His concept of gardening was out of the realization that conventional gardening does not really yield sufficient produce since it involves planting in rows while leaving others empty spaces between. Although he named his concept “square foot” type of gardening, the garden does not really need to be square foot. It all depends on the size of your garden within which you can create small gardens.

This type of gardening provides for a number of benefits that you too need to consider in case you wish to have a garden that produces high quality yield and in sufficient amounts. Such include:

Ease of Gardening

Benefits of Square foot gardening

Image credit: Aaron Baugher

Unlike in conventional gardening, square foot gardening allows you to garden with ease. This is so because you do not walk on soil in the garden, meaning that the soil is not compacted. You therefore find it very easy to remove weeds easily. In any case, the amount of weeds you are bound to remove is very minimal since this type of gardening discourages growth of weeds.

Use of Light Tools

Unlike in conventional gardening where the soil is compacted due to regular walking on the same, this type of gardening only requires use of light gardening tools since the soil remains loose all the time.

Minimal Gardening Resources

This type of gardening requires very minimal use of the necessary resources for growing plants. From the outset, the amount of water you use to garden is very minimal compared to that you would spend when gardening conventionally. This is because this type of gardening requires that (as recommended by Mel) you have a soil mixture made up of one-third compost, one-third peat moss and one-third vermiculite, a mixture that provides for enhanced water-holding capacity. Secondly, use of insecticides is very minimal since you can easily plant natural insect-repellant plants such as marigolds.

Enhanced Water Drainage

Unlike in conventional gardening where water clogging is a reality, square foot gardening enhances water drainage. In any case, you only use very minimal amount of water. Any uncontrolled water such as from rain that ends up in the garden easily drains off, in effect allowing plants to grow normally.


There is no doubt that plants need some warmth to grow well and produce. This type of gardening and in particular if it is raised allows the soil to warm faster than ground soil, meaning that your plants grow, mature and produce faster that plants planted in conventional way. What this means is that your planting season begins earlier.

These are no doubt just a few of the many benefits that square foot gardening provides. Embarking on this type of gardening can indeed be a very fulfilling and rewarding just in the same way that its creator experienced.