Garden design widths


When designing your garden it’s handy to know what are good measurements for the vegetable bed width and path width. Both will depend on your available space and the design shape you wish to use.

The ideal width of your bed will be if you can reach to the centre of the the bed from all sides. A good rule of thumb for a ground level bed is 1.2 metres.

The best width for a path will need to be able to accommodate a wheelbarrow. If you are designing for a school or aged care facility you may want to make sure a wheelchair can be used on the path. 90cm to a metre is a good width.

Timeline for setting up a garden

Here’s a skeleton plan for setting up a backyard garden. Some of these tasks we didn’t do in the order suggested, but this is what I would do next time!

Spend some time designing your garden:

Use resources efficiently:

  • Start up two compost heaps (one ready to use and one to add scraps to)
  • Start up worm farm
  • Invest in water tanks or irrigation systems

Plant in flora for fauna:

  • Put in feature trees first
  • Then plant out hedges to stop winds or provide privacy (2m plus)
  • Put in next layers (1-2 metres)
  • Put in last layer of plants (under 1 metre)
  • Add a bird bath, frog pond and/or bird boxes

Plant fruit trees and vines:

Plant in vegetable patch:

  • Plant herbs in pots near kitchen
  • Purchase seeds
  • Collect material for no-dig garden
  • Prepare no-dig bed and top with mulch
  • Plant seeds and seedlings, including companion plants

Garden design

The design of the garden evolved through lots of trial and error. I was more then happy to pull up a plant and put it some where else – but sometimes this had fatal results! This philosophy frustrated Matt who wanted the right decision made the first time and he even tried to instil a ‘no moving plants’ rule. When we were buying plants at the nursery, Matt would ask if I knew where I was going to plant it. Of course, I never knew where it was going to end up – I was totally winging it.

Somewhere I saw the idea of throwing empty plastic pots over your shoulder to help you decided where to plant out your plants and produce a more natural feel to the area. Other advice I received which helped included:

  • Repeat plant in odd numbers – preferable 3s or 5s
  • Plant along fences and paths in a zig-zag fashion to replicate nature
  • The recommended plant widths on the tags are often generous, so plant closer together

If I ever started a garden again I would approach it completely differently. The first thing I would do is create a wish list of features I wanted in my garden. In an ideal world, this is the order I would plant in:

  1. Start planting out natives around the border first – to create privacy and wind breaks where they are needed,
  2. Then plant at the back with trees and bushes over 2m,
  3. Next plant in a second row in from the fence with smaller bushes 2 to 1 m high,
  4. Lastly in a third row close to the edges and footpaths I’d plant anything less then half a metre and the ground covers.