3 Tips to Create a Keyhole Kitchen Garden

Keyhole kitchen gardens are one of the best layouts for growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Keyhole gardens maximize the amount of space available for growing because the design uses nearly all of the available space while also creating a unique enclosed setup that’s so fun to tend.

At least Rooted Garden thinks so!

keyhole kitchen garden

One of my favorite things about working in a keyhole garden is that fact that with nearly every direction I turn, there’s a new spot in the garden for me to tend. The fun just doesn’t stop. And that’s just the way we like our kitchen gardens.

As you set up your kitchen garden, you should consider going keyhole! Here are a few tips to be certain you do it right the first time.

Photo by Masami Photography

Photo by Masami Photography

But before we start, I need to clear a thing of two up.

The traditional keyhole garden is actually round with one ‘piece of the pie’ removed for access to the bed and the possibility of compost collection in the center.

But there are all sorts of modifications and a round keyhole just wouldn’t make sense in a lot of our Houston vegetable gardens.

So, Rooted Garden applies the basics of a keyhole garden to the straight lines of typical urban backyards and still creates layouts that are enclosed to a narrowed opening and maximize growing space while taking a bit of liberty on the shape of the keyhole. Plus, rectangular beds are soooo much easier to construct out of wood which is the most typical element our clients choose for their raised beds.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get to the tips!

This Houston vegetable garden is one of Rooted Garden’s favorites and was installed in late summer of 2016. Working with this client and her family was the best. Rena was already a flourishing gardener with beautiful flowers in her landscape, butterflies on her milkweed, and even grapes over her patio.

houston vegetable garden

She’d successfully grown a number of annual vegetables in her first garden but it was becoming quite the chore to weed and tend given its low height. It was time for an upgrade and Rooted Garden was so happy to get to make it happen.

After looking at the space, I mentioned the idea of the Keyhole design, hoping she’d consider it. And the answer was, ‘yes,’ right away.


Be certain the kitchen garden area is deep enough for a significant U shape in the keyhole layout

If you’re creating a keyhole design of this sort, the first tip is to be certain the depth of the garden area is long enough to create a significant U shape. You need a significant depth to the vegetable garden space in order to create the unique feel of a keyhole garden, especially with this rectangular design that Rooted Garden uses.

Houston vegetable garden


Ensure the entry points are a minimum of two feet wide for easy access

Second, be certain the entry point to the keyhole vegetable garden is wide enough for you to easily come and go through the garden. Keyhole gardens can be such a treat to work in, but only if you’re not constantly bumping into the garden beds as you tend. As you create your layout, leave a minimum of 2 feet between the edges of the garden beds.

Houston Vegetable Garden


Create a division between the keyhole garden and the rest of your landscape

Finally, create a separation between the keyhole garden and the rest of your landscape. An important aspect we include in our designs is a distinction between the kitchen garden and the rest of the landscape. Without clearing space and adding a border to the area, you’re likely to end up standing in mud or weeds or overgrown grass. So, before installing the garden, be certain to clear the area of all existing vegetation and provide a border to separate it from the remainder of the landscape.

Keyhole kitchen gardens are such a great way to garden. If you’re certain you’ve got enough depth in your garden space, that your walkways are plenty wide, and that you’ve set apart the garden space, you’re well on your way to creating a unique garden layout that will make you feel like you’ve got your own little hideaway right in the middle of your backyard.

Want Rooted Garden’s help in setting up your keyhole garden? You can order a consult here.

Houston vegetable garden

Nicole BurkeRooted Garden