How to Grow Vegetables in Small Spaces


While it might be ideal, a country home with acres of open land simply isn't a necessity to enjoy vegetable gardening. Don't let having only a small garden space stop you from enjoying fresh, home-grown produce. Even if you have only a small courtyard, a few square feet of dirt off a patio, or a sunny front porch that can house a few planters, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh vegetables. There are many practical and clever ways to make the most of your gardening space.

Step 1

Prioritize. When you grow vegetables in a small space you have to be selective. Start a gardening journal and list all the vegetables you might be interested in growing. Arrange the list in order, with the ones you use most frequently placed at the top and the ones you use the least on the bottom, knowing plants at the bottom may be cut from the list. Note how many of each plant you wish to grow.

Step 2

Measure your space to plan it on paper. Draw a grid in your journal to represent your gardening space, one square inch on paper equal to one square foot of gardening space. Research plants and note on your list how much space each will need. Mark your grid to plan out where each plant can be placed. Place them the closest recommended distance so you maximize your space without crowding your plants. Try staggering them instead of lining them up in straight rows so that you can squeeze more in.

Step 3

Choose varieties that are more compact. For example, select bush beans, which require 4 inches of space, instead of pole beans, which require 36 inches; or choose loose-leaf lettuce, which requires only 4 inches per plant, instead of lettuce heads, which require 12 inches. You'll be able to fit more plants in your gardening space, thereby maximizing your yield.

Step 4

Plant in quick successions or rotations. Once your cool weather crop, such as lettuce, is spent in the spring, pull it up and transplant cherry tomatoes into the space. Don't allow a single usable space to go empty for any season.

Step 5

Try intercropping, or intersowing, for maximum efficiency. Plant a quick-growing crop with a slow-growing crop; the quick-growing crop will be out of the ground before the slow-growing crop needs the space. For example, plant quick-maturing radishes with slow-maturing parsnips in the same plot and you'll have early season radishes and late season parsnips without giving up any extra gardening space.

Step 6

Make use of containers when vegetable gardening. Instead of giving up a portion of your garden plot for herbs, put the herbs in a strawberry pot near your front door. Put your cherry tomatoes in a hanging planter instead of using up precious square feet. Line some 12-inch-square pots along the other side of your driveway to fit in a few extra pepper plants. Even a window box can give you the space for lettuce or spinach to free up an extra square foot or 2 of ground space.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening journal or notebook
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Containers
  • Potting soil


  • "The American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening"; Christopher Brickell and Elvin McDonald, Editors; 1993
  • "Practical Small Gardens"; Peter McHoy; 2005
  • AgriLife Extension: Vegetable Gardening In Containers
Keywords: grow vegetables, vegetable gardening, gardening space, small-space gardening, limited space garden

About this Author

Mackenzie Wright has been freelancing for the last 8 years in the arts of writing, painting, photography, crafts, and teaching classes on the arts. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Education. Her writing has been featured in publications such as the Saint Petersburg Times, South Florida Parenting Magazine, and Home Education Magazine.