Once you have planned what you are going to grow and how much, it is time to build the planters. These can be made from non-pressure treated wood, recycled material such as cinder blocks, and even manmade wood. The key though is to make sure that the material is at least one inch thick and six inches deep.
When planning the size of your square foot garden planters, keep in mind that the typical human can comfortably reach the center of a planter that is 4 feet across. Anything large will not allow the gardener to reach the very center. Utilizing this principle will help you come up with a size that fits your environment. A good size to start with is a 4 by 4 foot bed. This size will create 16 different planting areas. If you want a larger space or if a rectangular shape is needed, try a 4 by 8 foot bed.
If you do not have a yard to place your square foot garden on, do not give up. These gardens can be designed so that they can perch on the railing of a deck as long as they are secured with decking screws. If you are above the first floor, consider placing the square foot garden on the floor of the deck. Another choice a gardener has is to design smaller planters so that they fit on each step. This approach will create a terraced effect. A further design is to create a pyramid shape with the planters. This type of design requires the gardener to use a base that is 4 by 4 foot. A smaller planter is then placed in the center. This type of design is great for growing two different types of plants that have different depth requirements in the same space.
Once the size and shape has been determined, the next step is to prepare the materials. Measure and cut all the material at the same time. In this example I will be talking about wood but the process is the same.
After the wood is cut, it is time to assemble the planter. Place the side of one piece of wood against the end of another piece of wood. Pre-drill three holes into the piece of wood that is on its side and screw into these holes three coarse-thread decking screws. Repeat the process with the remaining sides.
Once the skeleton of the planter is built, it is time to create the bottom. Some individuals attach a wooden bottom to the planter. If your planter is going to be placed on the ground this is optional. If your planter is going to be on some other hard surface, the bottom will need to be attached.
To utilize a bottom, first cut piece plywood sheeting to the size of the planter. Then drill a ¼ inch hole per square foot plus an additional one in the center. Attach the plywood to the planter and secure with screws.
If the planter is going to be placed on the ground, simply lay landscape cloth, cardboard or newspaper down as a weed barrier.
If you do not have the time or tools to make your own planter, do not despair. Many planters such as the rectangle planter garden, square planter garden and the Brookside planter sold through Outdora will work just fine as the planter for a square foot garden.
Once the planters have been constructed, it is time to prepare the garden space. Mark off the area where you plan to place the planters with chalk or powdered milk. If your planters do not have a bottom, lay down your chosen weed barrier
After the area has been prepared, measure the location of your first planter. There needs to be a three-foot walkway around all sides of the planter. Continue this process with the remaining planters.
The last step of this garden area prep process is to cover the walkways. This will help control weeds and give the garden space a finished look. Depending on your budget and the availability of materials will determine what type of material you choose. Landscape mulch of any kind is a good and inexpensive choice but you can also use straw or gravel.
Square foot gardening is an easy technique to use for those who say they do not have time to garden, the space to garden or have a brown thumb. All it takes is a planter no wider than four feet and at least six inches deep to start your own successful square foot garden space.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mindy McIntosh-Shetter has been an Agricultural Science educator, and is a horticulture and/or environmental blogger who earned a degree from Purdue University in Agriculture Education with a minor in biology, and natural resources. Presently she is finishing up her Masters in Environmental Education and Urban Planning for the University of Louisville while working on her own agriculture/environmental blog.