Gardening is an enjoyable pastime that millions of people partake in, but for preppers, gardening is more than just an enterprise to help you while away spare time and weekends for bragging rights when you produce a few pieces of pristine fruit or veggies.
For millennia, large and small scale gardening has been integral to survival, and it will be integral to survival again should any society toppling event occur.
It is best, then, to get a head start on one of the most foundational elements of self-sufficiency.
Whether you are a veteran green thumb or a complete novice when it comes to gardening matters not. Where there is a will and a little bit of soil, there is a way.
You don’t even have to live in the country to partake in the growing of a survival garden, either. Supplemental gardens can be grown in a little spare room in your backyard or substantial gardens can be grown in his little as a quarter of an acre.
But, when every square foot counts on efficient layout is critical to the success and the bounty of your garden, and to help you maximize the return on your investment in however much space you have, we are here with a collection of some of the best and most efficient survival garden layouts to suit any circumstances and any amount of room.
Big or small there is a layout here for everyone. Grab your spade and let’s get started!
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A Survival Garden Can Bolster Any Survival Strategy!
Discussing the notion of a survival garden with various preppers, I have come to the conclusion that a survival garden is only considered if it is a centerpiece readiness item to an individual’s plan.
To clarify, if a prepper is steering completely into the idea of homesteading, radical self-sufficiency and permaculture then a garden is likely at the top of their list.
Conversely, preppers who indicated little interest in growing anything, to say nothing of substantial varieties of food, planned on stockpiling, scavenging or bartering to sustain their food supplies during a long or indefinite term survival situation.
To these folks, the juice didn’t seem to be worth the squeeze when considering the benefits of a garden as a sustainment item.
If you fall into this latter category, I’d urge you to reconsider. And a long-term survival situation, even if you aren’t relying on your garden for supplemental sustenance it could still help get you things you need and want.
You have to consider the notion that when trading or bartering something as simple and taken for granted as fresh fruits or veggies, or herbs and spices, could be extremely valuable to the right people.
When subsisting on a diet of rudimentary, plain fare the nutrition and taste of real, homegrown produce will be a luxury item indeed, and people who are emotionally ailing may spend big as it were for such a thing. If nothing else, a survival garden could give you more tools in your trading toolbox!
Survival Garden Layouts You Should Consider
Below is a list of survival garden layouts worth consideration. Note that while all of them have advantages, not all of them will work in all circumstances.
Some are much better for space starved gardeners while others work best with an abundance of land to devote to the purpose.
Don’t worry too much about it, as a little research and prior planning will easily let you determine which one is best for your circumstances.
Permaculture-Style Food Forest
For those who have plenty of land or lots of time to devote to establishing their garden, a food Forest might be the best bet.
A food forest is a relatively new term but is in practice an ancient permaculture idea that has been practiced for ages. A clue is in the name, as a food forest mimics a natural forest or woodland ecosystem, only your growing plants that all produce edibles.
A food forest will likely include large, nut producing trees that create a canopy capable of shading the plants below, smaller fruit trees below that, shrubs and bushes growing beneath those dwarf trees and then a variety of grasses, vines, herbs and so forth growing closest to the ground as with a traditional garden.
Done correctly, a food forest will easily blend in with surrounding wildlands and also promotes an extremely healthy ecosystem that is robust and easy to manage while producing edibles year-round, year in and year out.
The initial investment in time and research, as well as establishing the larger variety of trees, makes this a long-term option but one that is well worth the time if it appeals to you.
Learn more about permaculture here, and check out this layout here.
Scalable Square Foot Garden Plan
The square foot gardening system is a high-yield, high efficiency type of gardening, typically employed on a raised bed, developed by engineer Mel Bartholomew.
Designed to produce the best returns in minimal space and with minimal extra effort for planting, tending and harvesting, the square foot garden plant gets its name because any existing space is divided up into one foot by one foot square plots which get a specific number of plants depending on what you were growing.
For instance, certain varieties of tomato will get only one square to themselves while others can be planted two or even four to a square.
Learning how many plants can go in each square foot is an easy metric to remember and also allows you to handily estimate what your returns will be based on how many square feet you have planted.
Probably the best part about the square foot gardening plan is how scalable it is. If all you have is a single 4 ft by 4 ft raised bed you know you’ll have 16 “squares” for planting and can easily plan your returns as well as your layout and planting order accordingly.
Using this method also allows you to squeeze every bit of function you can out of even the smallest spaces.
Originally developed for use in Africa by people who were too weak or infirm to bend over and attend a traditional garden, the keyhole garden has since gone on to spread elsewhere for other purposes due to its efficiency and high productivity.
A keyhole garden gets its name from its shape, consisting of a roughly 2 meter wide, solid-walled raised garden bed with an indentation in one side that allows the gardener to step inside the circumference to a compost pile or compost basket in the middle.
Keyhole gardens work so well because the compost pile keeps the surrounding soil evenly refreshed with nutrients as it is developed and the solid walls, typically made from stone, brick, cinder block or something else are strong enough to hold back the soil while also holding in water.
The raised nature of the keyhole garden, typically standing about waist high for an average adult, makes it easy to lean over and work on and also strong enough to support an adult who needs help standing or just needs a rest.
For high density gardening, the keyhole garden has proven excellent in both ease of maintenance and high productivity so long as the plants being grown in it do not require a wide-ranging root network.
For an operational kitchen garden for a high-yield garden in a small space, the keyhole garden is tops.
Raised Bed Garden
The raised bed garden is one of the most popular and adaptable types of garden there is.
Rising anywhere from 6 in to a couple of feet off the ground, raised planters allow you to save your knees and your back by getting your plants up closer to your natural workspace and, just as importantly, allows you to overcome challenging soil or other planting conditions by keeping your own soil mixture in place and holding in water.
Raised beds have been around for a long time, and to get an idea of its ubiquity and popularity all you need to do is take a gander at the garden center in your local big box hardware or home improvement store.
You’ll find all sorts of ready-made, raised planting boxes along with paneling for crafting your own.
Although not the most efficient way to garden, if you’re willing to invest a little more money and effort into setting up the raised beds and then filling them with the appropriate soil you can overcome quite a few challenges in one go.
Raised beds are ideal for beginning gardeners or those who aren’t sure if they want to expand into a larger operation.
Insulated Raised Beds
The insulated raised bed is an interesting take on the traditional raised bed or raised planting box.
Consisting of little more than a purpose designed or improvised structure or scaffolding over the bed, this allows you to drape plastic or heavy cloth over your plants to help moderate moisture levels, light and other factors that affect their health and growth.
This is definitely an upgrade to consider if you are growing plants with specific conditional or nutritional requirements and is easy enough to improvise with just a couple of dollars worth of materials.
Learn more about insulated raised beds here.
The victory garden layout was made famous by “civic front” efforts put into place by the United States government during World War II.
The idea was to get every household growing a victory garden either in their front yard or their backyard with the end result being the alleviation of demand, and therefore commercial consumption, of various staples that were being gobbled up by the ship load and sent over to US soldiers in Europe and elsewhere.
The plan is simple, and is essentially a typical row garden in miniature taking maximum advantage of synergistic plantings of a variety of vegetables, herbs and other growables. By keeping the size small and maximally efficient, returns are plentiful and tending to the garden is easy.
This is an ideal sampler garden, if an eclectic one, for the prepper who is just getting into gardening and wants to try their hand at a variety of plants without committing too much in the way of resources, space or time.
A community garden may be just the ticket for survival co-ops, mutual assistance groups or close-knit neighborhood bands of preppers.
A community garden is one that is planted, nourished and tended by multiple people working together in order to produce a harvest that all can benefit from.
These are typically larger scale row gardens or row and other garden styles they could have any and everything growing within its bounds.
A large parcel either abandoned, unoccupied or donated by a member of the group is the site of the community garden and is typically overseen by a small board of expert gardeners or a single highly motivated and skilled individual.
Community gardens take maximum advantage of team effort to produce a bountiful harvest while minimizing the work that anyone has to do.
Care and oversight are watch words for any community garden as allowing people to plant or pick willy-nilly can lead to conflicts among plants that are growing in close proximity that are incompatible or, worse, to the disastrous application of additives or fertilizers that are either incorrect or too strong.
The classic survival garden layout uses varying, interlocking squares or rectangles for planting specific vegetables and fruits in such a way that the effective use of space is maximized while de-conflicting antagonistic, neighboring plantings that could interfere with one another.
Highly adaptable but comparatively short on frills and other cost or labor saving tricks, this is a quintessential garden layout for adapting an existing property to growing survival essentials quickly and with a minimum of fuss.
If you have a large, undeveloped parcel or just an average suburban backyard, the classic survival garden layout can be made to work for you.
Compared to other types of survival gardens on this list, the classic layout is highly dependent on knowledge of soil conditions, additives and the attributes of what you are planting. You won’t be able to get away with a mismatch here so study carefully if you want success!
Landscaped “Stealth” Garden
Certainly the most innovative option on this list, this stealth garden layout is one part survival produce and one part attractive, property value boosting landscaping.
This is one survival garden that not only will go undetected by your neighbors and passersby but will also increase the value of and beautify your home.
It does this by relying on the careful selection of what plants can be installed at various points around your home in an attractive but functional way.
Native or regional variety plants are preferred over cultivated exotics in order to fortify the local ecosystem while boosting maximum productivity.
Compared to the other survival garden layouts on this list, the stealth landscape garden requires more walking around and more diligence when it comes to weeding and maintenance, and is generally not going to be as efficient as the others we have previously shared.
But for those who are unwilling to ugly up their property with a traditional garden or those who don’t want their neighbors to catch on to what they are doing in the first place, this is a unique and effective choice.
Kitchen Garden Layout
The kitchen garden layout is great for people who want to maximize their space with specific crops. This type of layout requires some planning and forethought as it involves organizing plants according to their size, growth habit, sun requirements, and other factors.
To create this layout, divide your plot into sections based on what type of plant you want to grow; then assign each section accordingly.
For example, if you want to grow tomatoes and peppers in one section and squash in another section, plan out how much space each plant needs so that they have enough room when they reach maturity.
Here’s a sample layout for your design.
A dry or drought-resistant garden is ideal for areas that receive limited rainfall or experience frequent droughts. This type of layout involves planting drought-tolerant plants together in order to create an efficient system that uses resources like water and sunlight most effectively.
In order to do this correctly, select plants with similar water requirements and place them close together so that they can share available resources such as shade or moisture from rain or irrigation systems.
Here’s a simple design to try.
Companion planting is a great way to increase the productivity of your survival garden by encouraging beneficial insects into your plot while repelling pests with aromatic herbs and flowers.
To create this type of layout, research which companion plants work best together before planting them side by side in your plot; this will ensure maximum protection against pests while maximizing the nutrients in your soil with beneficial microorganisms produced by the plant roots interacting with one another.
Here is a plan to follow.
The shade garden layout is perfect for those who don’t get full sun throughout their entire day or live in an area where temperatures can get too hot during certain times of year for certain crops.
This type of layout involves selecting shade-tolerant vegetables such as spinach, kale, lettuce and other leafy greens along with root vegetables like carrots, beets and radishes which thrive in cooler temperatures with less light exposure.
When creating this type of layout be sure to group plants according to their sun requirements so that each receives enough light without competing for resources like water or nutrients from the soil — this will help ensure success when harvesting time comes around!
Here are some plans.
If you have limited outdoor space, then the patio garden design might be ideal for you. This design is perfect for small urban gardens as it makes use of vertical space and containers to give you more growing area.
The key with this design is to make sure that containers are placed in an organized way so that they don’t take away from the aesthetics of your patio space.
Here is a layout to try.
A vertical garden is a great way to save on space while still maximizing your harvest. This type of garden utilizes vertical structures like trellises, walls, and shelves to create more growing area without taking up too much room.
The great thing about this design is that it allows you to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers all in one spot!
Here are some designs to try.
Hoop House Garden Plan
Hoop Houses are great options for those who want a large-scale vegetable garden but don’t have enough land to accommodate it. Hoophouses utilize PVC pipe frames covered with plastic sheeting to create an enclosed climate-controlled environment where plants can thrive year round.
This is also a great way to protect crops from extreme weather conditions such as heavy rain or strong winds.
Here’s a diagram with planting guides and other helpful layouts.
For those looking for a unique look in their garden, the crevice garden could be just what you need! This type of garden utilizes rocks and stones arranged in vertical layers and crevices filled with soil and plants such as succulents or alpine plants. These
ardens look stunning when done right and will add some drama and texture to any outdoor space!
Here are some design options.
Ladder Vegetable Garden
If you’re short on space but still want to grow lots of vegetables, then this is the design for you! This design utilizes a ladder as a foundation and has multiple levels of shelves along it.
It can fit into even the tiniest of spaces and is perfect for those who live in apartments or other tight quarters. The best thing about this design is that it’s easy to move around if needed and lets you take advantage of vertical space.
Here is a layout to try.
A container garden is perfect for those who don’t have access to land but still want to grow their own food. All you need are some containers (preferably larger ones), soil, seeds, and fertilizer.
Once everything is in place, all that’s left is to water your plants regularly and harvest when ready! Plus, container gardens can look great when designed properly and add color to any outdoor area.
Here are some layouts to try.
Stock Tank Garden Design
This design is perfect for those who have access to large metal stock tanks or other similar containers. All you need are some holes drilled at the bottom of the tank so that excess water can drain out and then fill it up with soil and compost.
Plant your veggies inside the tank or use it as a planter bed — either way, this design will save you time spent weeding while also protecting your plants from pests and weeds!
Here’s a layout plan you can follow.
Cold frames are great for extending your growing season by providing extra warmth during cold months. This type of garden layout combines cold frames with raised beds so that you can enjoy fresh produce year-round!
It’s an excellent option for those living in colder climates who want to maximize their harvest throughout the winter months as well as the summer months.
Here are a variety of plans you can try to make your life easier.
This type of garden consists of an enclosed space with transparent walls that trap heat from the sun in order to keep plants warm.
This type of garden is great for growing vegetables, flowers, and herbs as long as they get plenty of sunlight during the day. It can also provide a safe haven for animals such as chickens and ducks if they are provided with enough room.
Another option is a hydroponic garden design. This involves growing plants without soil by using nutrient-rich water instead.
Hydroponic gardening is great for those who want to grow fresh veggies without having to worry about soil contamination or pests getting into their crops. Plus, it uses much less water than traditional gardening methods which makes it perfect for areas with limited resources or dry climates where water scarcity is an issue.
Here’s a selection of potential layouts.
Finally, there’s straw bale gardening—a simple yet effective way of growing vegetables and flowers without needing any soil whatsoever! All you need are some straw bales arranged in whatever pattern suits your needs best and then fill them up with your favorite plants and watch them grow!
Straw bale gardens are great because they require very little maintenance and can be used almost anywhere—even on balconies or rooftops!
Here’s a plan you can follow when designing your straw bale garden.
How to Determine the Best Layout for Your Garden
Here are some things to consider as you plan your survival garden:
- Accessibility: Make sure that there are clear paths leading up to your garden and that they are wide enough for wheelbarrows and other large equipment. Also, think about how many people will be accessing your garden; if more than one person needs access, plan accordingly with multiple pathways leading up to it.
- How Many People You Need To Feed
- Access To Water And Other Resources: Make sure that you have easy access to water for watering your plants (such as ponds, rivers, lakes, aquifers, etc) as well as other resources such as compost or manure if necessary. Consider investing in a rain barrel or rainwater collection system as well.
- Need For It To Be Concealed: If you live in an area where theft is common, consider making your garden layout concealed or hidden from view by surrounding it with natural barriers like trees or shrubs.
- Types Of Plants You’re Growing: Consider what types of plants you’re growing when designing your layout; certain crops may require more space than others. Some of the best plants to grow in a survival garden include pole beans/bush beans, Swiss chard, potato crops, onions, carrots, lettuce, peas, corn, kale, garlic, beets, asparagus, pepper plants, etc.
- Climate And Other Conditions: Take into account climate conditions such as temperatures and rainfall amounts as well as other environmental factors like soil type when deciding what type of layout would work best for your particular area.
With these factors in mind, you’re well on your way to creating the survival garden you’ve always dreamed about!
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.