Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (2024)


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Marie Iannotti

Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (1)

Marie Iannotti

Marie Iannotti is a life-long gardener and a veteran Master Gardener with nearly three decades of experience. She's also an author of three gardening books, a plant photographer, public speaker, and a former Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator. Marie's garden writing has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide and she has been interviewed for Martha Stewart Radio, National Public Radio, and numerous articles.

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Updated on 07/19/23

Reviewed by

Kathleen Miller

Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (2)

Reviewed byKathleen Miller

Kathleen Miller is a highly-regarded Master Gardener and horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in organic gardening, farming, and landscape design. She founded Gaia's Farm and Gardens,aworking sustainable permaculture farm, and writes for Gaia Grows, a local newspaper column.

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Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (3)

Project Overview

  • Working Time:3 - 5 days
  • Total Time:26 wks
  • Skill Level:Intermediate
  • Estimated Cost:$50 to $250

The traditional method of vegetable gardening is to plant in narrow rows, lining up single plants in long rows separated by 1 to 2 feet of bare soil to provide access for weeding and other maintenance tasks. But this method wastes a lot of garden space in empty paths between rows. For certain vegetables, an increasingly popular method of planting is wide-row gardening. As the name suggests, this method uses much wider rows—up to 4 feet in some situations—with fewer empty paths between rows. Rather than plants lined up single-file, wide-row gardening uses a denser planting style for maximum productivity.

Before Getting Started

Not all vegetables are well-suited for wide-row gardening. Squash, tomato, cucumber, and melons are plants that need space to ramble, and they aren't well suited to any kind of row planting. And vegetables like onions and carrots that don't grow densely enough to block out weeds are not well suited to wide rows, either. But leafy vegetables that fill in space are ideal for wide-row gardening. For various types of lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, and other greens, wide rows can nearly double the amount of produce you harvest. For these vegetables, the advantages of wide-row gardening are many:

  • The soil is shaded as the leafy greens fill in the space, lowering soil temperatures and preventing heat-sensitive vegetables from bolting (setting seed) prematurely.
  • The dense cover of greenery shields out the sun and reduces the number of weeds that germinate.
  • A reduced number of bare pathways means more overall space devoted to growing produce.
  • Planting is simpler since seeds can be just broadcast over the wide area rather than meticulously planted in rows.
  • Harvesting is often quicker since you can reach a lot of produce from a single spot.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Rake
  • Trowel
  • Watering can or hose sprayer


  • Stakes and string
  • Soil amendments (as needed)
  • Seeds or potted nursery plants


Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (4)

  1. Prepare the Soil

    The steps for soil preparation in a wide-row garden are much the same as for any form of vegetable gardening. The work will be a little more demanding if you are starting a garden from scratch, but even for an established garden bed, it is important to thoroughly loosen the soil, remove stones and other debris, break up dirt clods, and smooth the area with a rake before planting the garden.

    Established gardens generally have moderately good soil fertility, but now is the time to add any soil amendments that are necessary. At the very least, it's a good idea to dig in some organic matter (compost or peat moss, for example). A soil analysis from your local University Extension Service can tell you if additional amendments are needed, as is sometimes necessary to correct soil pH issues.

    Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (5)

  2. Lay Out the Wide Rows

    Use stakes with strings stretched taut between them to create boundaries for your wide rows. Most experienced gardeners like to keep wide rows to no more than 3 feet wide to ensure that you can easily reach the center of the row from both sides. Keep at least 18 inches of space between the wide rows to provide access; 2 to 3 feet is even better.

    If you will be subdividing the wide rows for planting more than one crop (see below), also mark out the boundaries for interior rows or sections within the wide row.

    Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (6)

  3. Plant the Garden

    You can now plant your garden—either with purchased nursery seedlings or by direct-sowing seeds in a random pattern over the prepared wide row.

    Follow the seed packet's instructions (or the plant's ID tag) for spacing and planting depth. Don't be tempted to sow too densely. As they grow, the plants will still need good air circulation to prevent diseases and other problems. You do, however, want the greenery to completely shade the soil to block the germination of weeds.

    Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (7)

  4. Water the Garden

    From this point on, maintaining a wide-row garden is just like tending any garden. Keep the seeds or new plants moist until they become well established. This usually means daily watering until seeds sprout—or even twice-daily watering if the weather is especially hot and dry. To avoid washing seeds away or uncovering them, water gently using a fine-mist hose sprayer or watering can with a sprinkler head. Once the seedlings are well established, weekly watering is usually sufficient.

    Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (8)

  5. Tend the Plants

    If you planted by broadcasting seeds—the preferred method for many leafy vegetables—then you will need to thin the plants as they sprout to ensure they have enough space to grow to mature size. The seed packet will give you the recommended spacing between plants. With lettuces and other leafy greens, the thinned plants can be used in salads and other recipes as you pluck them—young leafy plants are especially tasty.

    Follow established recommendations for fertilizing in your wide-row garden. Not all plants require feeding, so do some research on the particular needs of each plant you are growing.

    Weeding is important to lessen competition for water and nutrients. Once your wide rows are established, the vegetables should fill in and shield the soil, making weeding duties less troublesome.

    Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (9)

Wide Row Variations

Rather than planting the entire wide row with a solid block of a single vegetable, you can subdivide the wide row in various ways.

Within each wide row, you can lay out two or more straight-line rows of vegetables. These interior rows can run parallel to the length of the wide row, or you can plant many short rows across the width of the row. Interior rows are generally planted quite close together, so there is no visible space between the mature plants. Each row can be a different vegetable, or you can use this method to succession plant a single vegetable. For instance, you could designate an entire wide row for beets and plant a single row each week for four weeks so that you wind up with four rows of beets that will mature at different times.

Using interior rows within the wide row also makes it possible to intermingle fast-growing and slow-growing plants. For instance, you could plant small pepper seedlings in the same wide row with radishes or arugula. As the pepper plants start to grow, they will provide cooling shade for the spring vegetables, which will be harvested long before the peppers fully spread out.

Other forms of succession planting are possible with this interior row method. For example, radishes and spinach are fast growers, and you can replant their rows with beets or other vegetables after the early crops have been harvested.

Another idea is to divide your wide rows into blocks, planting 1- to 2-foot stretches of the row with different crops: for instance, a block of onions followed by a block of lettuce followed by a block of chard in the same wide row. This is a good way to succession plant without leaving empty wasted blocks. This kind of companion planting takes some finagling, but it lets you get a maximum yield from a small space.

11 Tips for Growing Terrific Tomatoes in Pots

Grow Your Vegetables in Less Space With Wide Rows (2024)


How do you grow more vegetables in less space? ›

You can grow two or more vegetables in one area by planting slower-maturing and faster-maturing crops together. The quick-to-mature vegetables will be ready for harvest before the two crops begin to crowd each other. Once the fast crop is picked, the slower crop will have more room to grow to maturity.

How wide should vegetable garden rows be? ›

For plowed garden plots, row spacing is often determined by the width of your rotary tiller. For most tillers, rows should be at least 36 inches wide.

Which vegetables take up the least amount of space? ›

Choose plants that will still have a high yield when grown in small spaces: pole and runner beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, peppers, peas, kale, zucchini, lettuce, and salad leaves will produce without abundant room.

What is wide row planting? ›

Wide-row planting is just what its name indicates—simply planting seeds in a band rather than a single row. Wide-row plantings do not have to be raised-bed plantings—in fact, they usually are not.

Which vegetables need the most space? ›

Vegetable Spacing Guide
VegetableInches between plantsInches between rows
Squash, Summer1, 424-3618-48
Squash, Winter1, 324-4860-120
Turnip greens roots2-3 3-412-24 12-24
55 more rows
Mar 27, 2007

What to put between garden rows? ›

And a layer of straw mulch between your veggie rows sets off your plants and makes your garden look neat and tidy. Although it takes a little effort up front, mulching with straw will save you time in the long run when it comes to weeding and watering.

What is the best layout for garden rows? ›

Additionally, arrange the plants in such a way that the tallest ones are at the north end of the row, followed by medium-height veggies, and finally, the shortest ones at the south end. This arrangement maximizes sunlight exposure for all the plants.

How to make rows for a vegetable garden? ›

Rows and Furrows

Use a hoe to raise a row 3–4 in. (75–100 mm) higher than the surrounding soil and 4–6 in. (10–15 cm) wide, then dig parallel watering furrows on both sides of the row.

What vegetables don't need a trellis? ›


Along with tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers are the easiest fruits for beginner vegetable gardeners. In fact, bush cucumber varieties don't need a trellis at all, making them ideal for growing in pots. No matter the variety, cucumbers need frequent pollination to keep producing.

What plants need the least space? ›

Plants for Tight Spaces
Diamond Snow® euphorbiaMojave® Fuchsia PortulacaLemon Coral® sedum
'Cat's Pajamas' catmint (Nepeta)Low Scape Mound® chokeberry (Aronia)Lo & Behold® 'Blue Chip Jr.' butterfly bush (Buddleia)

What vegetables need mounds? ›

Beets can withstand lots of dry weather, so they are excellent for the mound. Potatoes like well-drained soil. Carrots are good, since they root deep, and sweet potatoes simply go wild if the mound is properly fertilized.

How wide should crop rows be? ›

Row widths continue to decrease as time moves forward. Current row widths employed by producers typically vary from 15" to 38", with most producers at 30" today. Yet more and more acres are planted to narrower row widths. In general, this means 15" or 20" row widths.

How wide for potato rows? ›

Row width also varies depending on where you grow potatoes. In Washington, rows are between 32 to 34 inches, the rest of the northwest United States varies between 34 to 36 inches.

How to grow an abundance of vegetables? ›

7 Secrets To Have A Continuously Productive Vegetable Garden
  1. Plant Seedlings on Time. ...
  2. Grow Continual Producers. ...
  3. Companion Planting is Good. ...
  4. Plant Perennials. ...
  5. Build a Cold Frame or Greenhouse. ...
  6. Try New Crops.
Aug 10, 2023

How to grow vegetables in a small apartment? ›

As long as your balcony has reasonable sun exposure, container gardening is your best bet. Just choose plants suitable for growing in containers, things like leafy greens, tomatoes, small peppers radishes, onions, herbs, peas or beans.

How do you grow vegetables in a small apartment? ›

Give Your Plants Some Sun — Lots of It

“Cool weather plants like lettuce that require more shade still need at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight a day.” The closer to the window, the better (a south-facing window is usually best because it gets the most light throughout the day).

How do I maximize my vegetable garden? ›

10 Tips for a Successful Vegetable Garden
  1. Seek Local Advice. ...
  2. Find a Good Location. ...
  3. Ensure Adequate Moisture and Drainage. ...
  4. Build Healthy Soil. ...
  5. Use Mulch. ...
  6. Plant the Right Plant at the Right Time. ...
  7. Monitor for Problems. ...
  8. Control Pests and Disease.

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