Raised-Bed Kitchen Garden Design: The Garden Trio • Gardenary (2024)

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Excellent Garden Design Ideas Come in Threes

My mom, an interior designer, always says to put things in groups of three, and if you start paying attention, you'll notice "the rule of three" at work everywhere you look.

There's the rule of thirds for composing images in photography. There's the three little pigs, the three blind mice, the three billy goats gruff, the three bears, the three musketeers, the three fates. There's the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and yet to come.

There's "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"; "stop, drop, and roll"; "veni, vidi, vici"; and snap, crackle, and pop.

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Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Essays have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

There's the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

There's three branches of our government.

Triads, trinities, and trilogies contribute to every aspect of our lives.

And when I get to line up three gardens in a row, I can see why three seems to be a magical number.

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The Garden Trio Is One of My Favorite Garden Design Layouts

When I first set out designing kitchen garden spaces for my Houston-based company,Rooted Garden, I thought my job was simply to place a wooden box in the middle of someone's yard (unless they had a lot of room, in which case I'd do two boxes) and fill it with the best soil and the right type of plants for our climate.

Fortunately for my clients, I figured out pretty quickly that there are just about as many different styles, sizes, and layouts for the garden space as there are for homes.

After designing hundreds of raised-bed gardens, I've narrowed my favorite designs down to the top six that I've found work well in spaces both functionally and aesthetically. These six garden design layouts include:border gardens, twin gardens, garden trios, keyhole gardens, four-garden classics, andformal potagers.

The size and shape of the yard space that you have available will play a big factor in helping to determine which is the best raised bed garden layout for you.

Today we're gonna focus on the garden trio layout.

This Garden Bed Layout Works Well in Long or Circular Spaces

This garden layout is ideal for two completely different types of spaces. If you have either of these types of space, creating a garden in a group of three is a great way to maximize the available area.

The first is a space that's extra long, such as this space along the fence pictured below.

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The second type of space is roughly circular in shape. The garden pictured below mirrors the almost-circular space it sits inside. With this layout, you can also add a focal point in the center by adding a fruit tree, a large potted plant, a fountain, or an urn.

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I’ve actually created a garden trio twice for myself, first in our driveway garden in Houston and then along the side of our home in the Chicago area. That second garden was actually a set of six raised garden beds—essentially two garden trios (pictured below).

Mom, can you believe I finally listened to you?Twice!

If your garden space is longer than it is wide or if it’s more circular and curved, a garden trio may just be a perfect match.

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This Raised Garden Bed Layout Is Visually Interesting

Our brains love symmetry, which is why the other garden layout types work so well (twin gardens, four-garden classics, etc.). The garden trio layout doesn't hold appeal because of symmetry. It works because our brains are interested in odd-numbered groupings.

Odd numbers strike our brains as looking overall more natural, less forced, than even numbers. Too much symmetry—such as having four beds spread out on a grid—can feel contrived. Essentially, designing three raised beds in a space is a way to achieve a cohesive grouping without coming off as too cookie-cutter perfect.

Keep these tips in mind when you're designing your own kitchen garden space.

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Remember Accessibility in Your Garden Design Layout

Raised beds in this raised-bed garden layout are typically accessible from multiple sides. If you can tend each bed from all sides, you could go as wide as four to five feet with each raised bed. Anything beyond five feet, however, would make it difficult to tend and harvest from plants in the middle of the bed.

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If you're designing a trio of raised beds in a circle, make sure to leave at least two feet of space between each bed so that you can access the beds from the center as well.

If you can only tend from one side (say, for example, your three beds back up against a fence or wall), I’d recommend staying under two and a half feet for your bed width, which is probably about as far as your arm can reach.

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Pair These Three Raised Beds with Garden Trellises

Garden design means using more than just the horizontal space available in your yard. Height is incredibly important too, not just for adding vertical interest but also for maximizing your growing space. With that in mind, you have many different options for trellises in a garden trio.

If your three beds line up in a row, you could join them with two arch trellises (the middle bed would have one side of an arch trellis at each end).

If your three beds are in a circle, you could connect each bed with an arch trellis. This essentially creates three inviting entranceways into the heart of your garden space. Few things are more beautiful or grand than an arch trellis covered in tomato vines or another climbing plant. (Explore ourcomplete listof what to grow up garden trellises.)

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Shop These Arch Trellises

The Bridge Arch Garden Trellis is a striking arbor with thick latticework on each side.

The black, powder-coated finish brings elegance and weather resistance to the piece, while the steel construction lends sturdiness.

You could also place obelisk trellises along the center of each raised bed. How many obelisk trellises should you use? Three in each bed, of course!

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Shop These Obelisk Trellises

The Wide Pillar Obelisk Trellis Kit is perfect for vining vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, or peas.

This wide obelisk is constructed of solid steel rods in powder-coated black and topped with decorative finials.

The garden below features obelisk and panel trellises in the center of each raised bed. This gives the gardener greater flexibility when it comes to vining plants.

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Garden Design Help Is Just a Click Away

Think of all the good stuff you could harvest from three raised beds in your own backyard! If designing your own garden feels daunting, we have Gardenary-certified kitchengarden designerswho can take a look at your space, wherever you are, and help you design, plan, and plant your very own garden trio (or help you select another design that works best for your space).

We've got lots of resources here at Gardenary to help you create a space where you can grow and flourish. Thanks for helping us bring back the kitchen garden, whether you're gardening from three small pots or three large raised beds!

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Raised-Bed Kitchen Garden Design: The Garden Trio • Gardenary (2024)


What is the best layout for a raised bed vegetable garden? ›

Determine bed size and layout

Don't make your beds wider than 4 feet, this way you can easily reach to the center. The ideal depth is between 12 and 24 inches. Leave at least an 18-inch path between beds, more if you want wheelbarrow access.

Why are raised gardens usually only 3 to 4 ft wide? ›

Width. One major goal of raised beds is to alleviate the need for gardeners to step into them. This means gardeners should be able to easily access the bed from all sides. Plan raised beds that are 3 feet wide for children and 4 feet wide for adults.

What is the best thing to plant in a raised garden bed? ›

Some annuals you might want to grow in your raised bed garden are petunias, pansies, basil, lemongrass, and vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, squash, and onions. Bonus tip: To help reduce the chance of disease and pests, you don't want to grow annual vegetables in the same spot year after year.

What vegetables grow well together in raised beds? ›

Corn, beans, and squash are all excellent crops to grow together. These are larger crops, but if you have a big enough raised garden bed, it's no problem. The corn stalks provide a support structure for the beans, the beans add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash leaves protect the roots. A master companionship!

How deep should a raised bed be for vegetables? ›

Vegetable Beds: On the other hand, when it comes to vegetable beds, the bed must be approximately 12 to 18 inches deep to ensure adequate depth for the roots of your plants. This is especially important if your raised bed is placed on cement or the patio, which will inhibit roots from growing deeper into the ground.

How deep should raised beds be for tomatoes? ›

Tomatoes should ideally be grown in a raised bed that's at least 15 to 18 inches deep. Many of my clients in Houston are successfully growing tomatoes in 12-inch deep raised garden beds, but their plants tend to be a little stunted compared to plants in deeper beds.

How deep should soil be for raised bed? ›

A raised bed does not need to be very deep to be effective, but the surface underneath your garden bed affects which depth is right. In general, eight inches is a good minimum depth for raised garden beds.

What should I put in the bottom of my raised garden? ›

Start with a layer of landscape fabric to prevent soil from washing out. Above this, a layer of gravel or small stones can aid in drainage. Then, fill the bed with a mix of topsoil, compost, and other organic matter. This layered approach ensures good drainage while providing a nutrient-rich environment for plants.

How many bags of soil do I need for a 4x8 raised bed? ›

As a rule of thumb, a 4'x8' raised bed that is 6 inches deep requires approximately 8 bags of soil while a 4'x8' raised bed that is 12 inches deep requires approximately 16 bags of soil.

Where is the best place to put a raised garden bed? ›

A north-south orientation is best for low-growing crops, allowing direct sunlight to reach both sides of the bed. For taller crops such as pole beans, peas and tomatoes an east west orientation works best. Leave enough space in between beds to easily maneuver around.

How long do raised beds last? ›

Most raised beds are constructed from lumber. Pine and other framing lumber will last about 4 to 5 years, while more expensive cedar will hang together for 8 to 10 years. Don't use redwood, which is an endangered species.

What is the best position for vegetable beds? ›

Aspect and orientation - most fruit, vegetables and cut flowers need full sun, so position beds in the south- or west-facing parts of your garden, away from the shade of overhanging trees. Run long beds north to south for even sunlight levels.

How far apart should plants be in a raised bed? ›

These are the basic, most frequently used spacing's in the square foot garden: The 3-inch spacing accommodates beets, carrots, onions and radishes. The 4-inch spacing is for bush beans and spinach. A 6-inch spacing is needed for Swiss chard, leaf lettuce and parsley.

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