How to Install Keyhole Beds

Keyhole beds are not only pleasing to the eye, but they require the least amount of space needed to be sacrificed to walkways for your zone 1 garden beds. I recently redesigned my garden beds in a keyhole design.


1. Prepare the area for planting. I let my chickens do this part for me. They raked and tilled, ate the insects and eggs, ate the weeds and weed seeds, and fertilized…a lot. At this point I could have just raked the area to smooth out the holes the chickens inevitably leave, but I had some compost left from an old project, so I decided to also spread compost over the plot, about 3 inches thick.

Compost installed, and graded

2. Set up the main walkway. This main artery should be 3 feet wide, so you can comfortably walk your wheelbarrow down it. I used a tape measure and set up flags to get the spacing perfect. Then I used a turf marking paint to lay out the walkway. I really like using paint because you can really see what everything looks like. If you don’t like it, simply erase it with your boot and try again.


3. Set up the keyholes. My reach is 2.5-3.0 feet. I set up my keyholes to end 3 feet from the end of my garden beds, and I set up the keyholes to be 5 feet apart from each other so I can reach in on either keyhole and reach the produce. I set the distances up with my tape measure and flags. Then I painted it out, erasing and re-doing until it looked right to me.


4. Seed the walkways. I used Dutch white clover seed for my walkway. I mixed it with some sand I had on hand to make it easier to seed, as the seed is tiny. Dutch white clover is great for walkways because it only grows 8 inches tall, so you don't have to mow it, it attracts pollinators with it's flowers, and it is a nitrogen fixer.

Main walkway and keyholes painted out

5. I like to mulch my garden beds, so I went ahead and mulched, so my valuable soil would not be exposed to the elements. Also, I love mulch for the water retention, weed suppression, and the soil temperature moderation it provides.

Mulch installed


Mandala Garden


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