Keyhole Gardening Tips

Keyhole Gardening Construction

Keyhole Garden Tips-key-hole-garden-bed
Keyhole garden bed

Keyhole gardens were first constructed in the 1990s for families in Africa that were poor and needing ways to successfully grow food crops. These gardens were said to be constructed or positioned near the kitchen.

The appearance of the garden was a two-meter-wide circular rise bed with a compost pile in the center with a key shape pathway. Uncooked vegetable scraps, manure, and water were placed in the center basket of this garden type.

These gardens allowed for easy access from the insides or from the edges, the advantage of the keyhole garden is that you can continue to add compost throughout the season, this continually adding of compost will decompose ensuring a constant supply of nutrients.

Since then keyhole gardens have become so popular and are constructed on a wider scale in many home gardens. In this article, we will be looking at how to construct such gardens along with taking advantage of the many benefits this garden type offer.

How to build a keyhole garden?

Let’s get started

1. When constructing a keyhole garden look for an area that’s flat and leveled that drains well or has good water drainage.

2. Remember keyhole gardens have a circular form so create a pattern according to this form as in the illustration above or imagine an apple pie with a slice missing.

3. Using this circular shape pattern as a guide, begin to build your keyhole garden with stones or concrete bricks. This structure should be three feet in height and six feet in diameter.

4. With wire mesh create a circular basket, this basket will act as a compost basket which should be one foot in diameter and four feet in height. Place the basket in the center of the circle.

5. Line the inside of the wall with carboards, the use of cardboards will help to retain the loose soil so it doesn’t filter through. This cardboard will also help with water drainage.

6. Fill the area which will be used for growing your crops with soil, a soil that is weed-free has good drainage but will hold the right amount of moisture is ideal.

7. Once the soil is placed begin to level the soil to slope down and away from the basket so that the water runs to the edges of the outside.

8. Place about four inches of rocks inside of the basket, these rocks will help speed up the decomposition process with the circulation of air-flow and also drainage.

9. Now fill the compost basket with leaves, disease-free grass clippings, kitchen waste such as scraps of vegetables, fruits, and other organic material. Don’t add scraps of meat or any other animal product including cat and dog feces.

10. Begin to plant your crops to reap a good harvest.

Maintaining your keyhole garden

1. As the compost decomposes continue adding kitchen scraps. This adding of scarps will ensure a constant supply of nutrients to plants as it breaks down.

2. Properly maintain your garden by regularly checking to see if any repairs need to be done.

3. When watering your keyhole garden, water from the center because this will allow the water to come in contact with the nutrient-rich compost that will direct nutrients into the soil to the roots of plants.

What to plant in a keyhole garden

These are just a few of many that can be added to this list.

The benefits of a keyhole garden

  • Easy plant accessibility
  • Low cost to construct
  • Low maintenance
  • Encourages soil enrichment
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Will  give a good harvest
  • Can hold moisture saving water

The final word on keyhole garden tips

Constructing a keyhole garden is the way to go because this garden type offers so many benefits and they are easy to maintain. Keyhole gardens are great for planting edible crops. If you haven’t constructed a garden as yet then consider a garden of this sort. Keyhole gardens have made a name for themselves, this popular garden method is making waves so why not get in on the action and have a garden of your own you will be so happy that you invested the time that will pay off in big ways.


Signup Today for Our Newsletter to Receive Up to Date Information on Herbs and Other Gardening News in the Industry.


About the author

+ posts

Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.

7 thoughts on “Keyhole Gardening Tips”

  1. I had not heard of the term key hole garden before but it does sound like a great way to start a garden.  I do not have a lot of space for one and we don’t really have “soil” here, just sand.  So using compost and stuff would probably help tremendously.  How large are keyhole gardens usually?  Can they also be fairly small with just a few varieties of plants?

    • A good size would be as I pointed out, they can be of different sizes but I am guessing you would not want one that is too small because of the number of veggies you may want to grow. So you can make your judgment base on the number of veggies to be planted. Hope this helps.

  2. I don’t think I have ever come across this type of gardening before but on a bright side, it is actually cool. Being able to constantly preserve nutrients and when out, can be easily refilled without having to hurt and damage the plants seems okay to me. 

    Also, thank you for providing so much information as to how to get started with this keyhole gardening. If I can, I will definitely give this a trial soon

    • This style of gardening is pretty amazing and will give you a good harvest for the time that you put into it. I am so happy that I could help and wishing you all the best of success with your keyhole garden. Have a good day.

  3. Often, the simpler ways are better.  There are many firsts for me in the method you have written about, of having a keyhole garden.  The very practical and easy method you have described would enable one to plant a great variety of garden vegetables, and in the planning allow one to use the area available to grow your garden amazingly well.  As the internet allows so much sharing of information, how to use what we learn and make the most of the process will be an interesting project.  I like the idea of the centre used for creating more soil.    

    I just have a couple of questions.  One concerns using cardboard to line the rocked bed area to help hold water.  I have never used cardboard but it seems to be as practical as the newspaper that my Grandparents used in getting their garden in and plants protected.  Is the chemical used in producing cardboard dangerous?  When using cardboard, should you tear it into small strips, and like scraps of fabric, just lay one over the edge of the other to line the rock wall of the garden? Can you use cardboard like a munching product?  For instance, after putting a good layer of leaves, could you put a layer of cardboard on top to keep it moist?  Or would it stay too wet and mold?  In that case, would it be better to have a layer of cardboard under the much?

    • The use of cardboard in the garden is popular and is used because of its organic structure and will breakdown over time. The cardboard can be laid down flat, this process is called sheet mulching. This material can be used to suppress weeds. In my opinion, I would put the cardboard down first followed by my other material. Remember cardboard comes from a natural source which is trees. Hope this helps.

  4. I am a passionate gardener and always try something new, but the concept of keyhole garding is new to me. It looks interesting one for planting edible crops; it’s also easy to understand the steps to build up this one, but can you please mention how this one is much effective in comparison to general Backhouse gardening?


Leave a Comment