4x8 raised bed vegetable garden layout

4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout ideas

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You’re excited to grow a vegetable garden. You’ve built your raised bed in a space that gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and filled it with soil. How do you figure out how much to grow? I thought I would put together a 4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout to show how much can be planted in a raised bed. I ended up creating a couple because I had fun planting all those virtual veggies!

Deciding what to plant in a small vegetable garden layout

I like to recommend starting with your grocery list. What items show up week after week? For me, that means lettuce and other greens, like spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and baby bok choy, cucumbers, onions, a variety of herbs, peppers (I usually plant at least one hot pepper to make habanero jelly, and a variety of other sweet peppers), the odd root veggie, like beets and carrots. One thing that doesn’t show up often on my grocery list are tomatoes. But that’s not because I don’t like them. They just can’t compare to the ones you grow yourself (or get at the farmers’ market in the summer). So tomatoes are always on my list to plant. And I often grow way more than I need—any extras get frozen for winter meals.

I also recommend planting at least one new-to-you veggie. It’s fun to watch it grow and then give it a taste test at the end of the season. While it’s easy to get carried away and want to grow all the things, you only have room for so much. I always seem to end up with more seedlings and seeds than I have space for. That’s why my raised bed collection and assortment of pots has increased over the years. What to do with any extra seedlings you have? Don’t let them go to waste! Tuck them into a perennial garden or a pot.

Figuring out spacing in a raised bed

Read your seed packets (or plant tags) carefully. They should provide the height and width of mature plants, as well as spacing recommendations. Keep in mind one of the benefits of raised beds is you can plant veggies more closely together (this is called intensive planting or gardening), rather than in rows, like a traditional in-ground garden. This also helps keep the weeds down and can reduce the need to water as often. You do want to keep an eye on your garden and thin plants as they grow to maintain air circulation, which helps prevent diseases.

intensive planting in raised beds

Intensive planting means you can fit more plants and more plants = more food (and less weeds)!

Many gardeners find Mel Bartholomew’s square foot gardening method helpful. In your raised bed, you divide the space into a grid of 1- x 1-foot squares. Then you follow his plan for how many plants or seeds should be added to each square. The density is based on the plant size. So that might mean one tomato or several carrots. It’s a helpful way for beginners to get organized.

Tips for your vegetable garden plan

*Assess which direction the sun comes from and make sure that you don’t plant tall crops in front of shorter ones. I learned this lesson the hard (funny?) way years ago. A packet of Pastel Dreams zinnias seemed like the perfect flowers to plant them along the front of my one raised bed. For some reason I didn’t read how tall they would get. Well the answer is three to four feet tall! Which means they cast a bit of shade on the veggies behind them at certain points throughout the day. I’m very careful about planting shorter varieties now.

*I always plant columnar basil near some of my tomatoes (I included it in my grocery list plan). It grows to be nice and high, doesn’t get lost in the shade of the tomatoes, and makes a LOT of pesto! Of course there are lots of great varieties of basil to discover.

*Choose compact varieties of plants that sprawl. They may have been bred with containers in mind, but they’re also perfect options for raised beds. If you plant, say a winter squash in your raised bed, it could easily take up the entire garden! However, a compact variety won’t be as much of a hog, and if you strategically plant it, it will cascade over the side. You could also plant your squash in front of the peas… once they’re done, the same trellis can be used to train the squash.

*Use tomato cages around bush varieties of cucumbers that will use the structure to climb.

mad hatter peppers

Mad Hatter peppers are a fun, sweet variety grow.

Sneak in some flowers to attract pollinators and combat plant pests. Some of my faves include alyssum, marigolds, and nasturtiums.

Plan for succession planting

A lot of new green thumbs don’t realize that the veggie planting season doesn’t end when you plant your heat lovers, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons. Spaces created in a garden from peas, for example, can be used later in the summer to plant root crops or greens, like Swiss chard and kale, for fall harvests. This is called succession planting.

succession planting in a raised bed

As soon as a space opens up in your raised bed, fill it with something else!

Also, when you’ve removed, say, your spent pea plants or garlic in the summer, and are getting ready to plant something else, add some compost to the raised bed. This will add some nutrients back into the soil. And now you’re ready to plant more!

I like to plant garlic in one of my raised beds in the fall, but keep in mind you won’t be able to plant in that garlic space until about July.

A 4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout of my grocery list faves

Okay, let’s get to the layout. There are eight rows in this raised bed. For the rows of onions, greens, and root veggies, the photos don’t represent the exact amount planted. They’re just a placeholder to indicate where they go. Based on my grocery list, I would plant two rows of onions; one row with two tomato plants and a columnar basil; one row with three pepper plants (one hot, one snack, one bell—or all the same); a row of kale, spinach or Swiss chard (from seed); a row with two cucumber plants (patio varieties); and a couple of rows of root veggies (from seed). In the diagram, I included beets and carrots, but you could add turnips or radishes. I also snuck in a couple of herbs a curly parsley and a flat-leaf parsley.

Plant your grocery list when deciding what to plant in a raised bed

This is my grocery list example that fits in a 4×8 raised bed.

A 4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout for a family

Here’s another layout idea for a family plot. Sow a double row/band of peas or beans with a trellis on the north end. Then, add two rows of onions, a row with two tomato plants (maybe a cherry variety and an slicing tomato), a row with two pepper plants (one hot and one snack), and one snack cucumber (all three in tomato cages), a row with one winter squash (dwarf to go over the edge) and summer squash (plants or seeds)—I loved Burpee’s Lemon Drop squash—and a double row of carrots (from seed).

A raised bed layout example for a family plot

A raised bed layout example for a family plot

More raised bed articles:

Raised Bed Revolution link to book

What does your 4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout look like? Share them with us!

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50 Responses to 4×8 raised bed vegetable garden layout ideas

  1. Roslyn Tyler says:

    Great information and easy to understand

  2. keisha says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful information. As a newbie to gardening (in ground), this was very helpful. Would you say planting flowers in the garden is worth it?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Keisha, I definitely think planting flowers in the garden is worth it. You’ll attract pollinators, which will then pollinate the veggie plants in your garden. 🙂

  3. Marie says:

    An excellent article. Thanks!

  4. Joshulyn says:

    Thank you for the information. So clear and precise. I am going to follow your plant layout to a tee. Just wondering whether I should plant flowers inside the beds as well? I’m a newbie and I tend want to walk (of not run) before I crawl. Would starting out with two 4×8 beds be too ambitious to begin with?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      I plant flowers at the front of a lot of my raised beds – often alyssum or marigolds. I generally recommend starting small. One raised bed is good, but two is nice if you start to run out of room. I usually find myself with more plants than I have space for! Just be mindful of the soil and materials costs for 2 vs 1.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I moved to a new house that has three 4 x 8 raised beds and two 4 x 5 beds already in place. I am excited and a bit overwhelmed. Any additional ideas?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Rebecca, I would say start small – maybe not use all of the raised beds this first year. Or, consider using one to grow fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. Or a whole herb garden in one of the smaller ones.

  6. April D says:

    When you say plant the flowers at the front of the bed, what exactly does that mean?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi April, I just mean one end of the bed. Reserve a row for flowers. 🙂

    • Danielle says:

      Is there a specific benefit of having the flowers in the same garden bed? or is just nearby helpful? Like does the flowers help in the soil in some way, or is it just for the pollinators. I have my raised garden bed planned out, but i have some old patio plater pots available so i was just going to plant them wtih flowers and put them beside the raised bed at the end. is that still helpful?

  7. Joséphine Katumba says:

    Wonderful information! Thank you. How deep would you recommend the beds be? (Sorry if I missed it)

    Thank you

  8. Susan Goodman says:

    Great information! My husband built three 8’x4’ raised beds for us. Veggie gardening isn’t new to us just the raised bed part. In your diagrams, which is N? Our beds lay East/West. I want to be sure to not plant the taller plants on the long Southern length of our beds. We are thinking along the same lines of veggies in your example diagram.

    Thank-you!

  9. Becky says:

    Thank you for this great info! One thing I wonder about with such a mixed bed, and then adding succession planting in there too, is do I need to worry about crop rotation and planting the same vegetables in the same spot next year?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Becky, I would definitely make sure you amend your soil between plantings and at the end of the season (or beginning of the next season). Keep an eye out for pests and plant diseases as they can overwinter in the soil. That would be a cause for crop rotation.

  10. Angela says:

    Can you please tell me how deep your beds are, especially for planting carrots? Thank you.

  11. Laura says:

    Thank you for detailing all these great planting ideas! How do you water your beds? If you use irrigation lines, do you plant around these?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Laura, Believe it or not, I cart around watering cans. I don’t have an irrigation system, but yes, you would plant around the lines. 🙂

  12. Valerie says:

    I love the visuals…thanks! I just got your book Gardening Your Front Yard. If you saw my front yard, you’d know why!

  13. Kathryn says:

    Question, do the raised beds have bottoms or is it just the garden dirt?

    Thanks for the advice. Just finished watching a show on pbs about your gardening.

  14. michael says:

    I just bought a 3 tiered garden bed, 4×4 on bottom tier, 3×4 on middle tier, then 2×4 on top. Leaves approx 1×4 of space for bottom and middle tier, and about 2×4 on the top. Which vegetables would be best for each tier? Was thinking of carrots, onions, strawberries, peppers, kale, cucumbers. Thank you for any help

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Keeping in mind the strawberries are perennial, I would maybe plant those in the top, so they can cascade over the sides. Maybe the cucumbers in the second tier, so they can also cascade, peppers in the front, and then the carrots, onions, and kale, in the spaces that are left on the bottom two…

  15. Harriet says:

    I’m in north idaho and planting my first raised garden beds. This might be impossible to answer but how often should I water in the dry months? Is it like everyday or just a couple times a week? It will all be done with a hose

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Harriet, I find I’m typically watering every day in the dry months. Unless I get a nice big rainfall. But you can also tell by feel. If you put your finger in the soil and it’s totally dry, you know you should water.

  16. Jan says:

    Great information! 🙂

    I have a raised bed that I’ll be using for the first time. If I were to transfer planters in the bed (instead of sowing seeds), how many planters do I need for each vegetable? For example, from the picture I can tell, I need to plant two tomatoes (with one basil in between). Does it mean, I’m planting 22 onions in the first two rows?
    Thank you! ❤️

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Thanks, Jan. Yes to the tomatoes and basil. For onions, it can be trickier depending on size – green onion vs a big red onion, for example. The plant tags should provide spacing information so you know how much distance you should measure between each plant. 🙂

  17. Clifton Joullian R.N., B.S.N. (The Nurse Farmer) says:

    Raised beds are the bomb! As a nurse, I advocate raised beds and containers. Raised beds and containers can mean less bending and stooping, particularly for those of us with back and joint issues.

  18. Karen says:

    We are just now building our raised veg. beds. (ours are 26 inches tall). My question is– I want to attach a watering system to each bed and I’m not sure if I want the sprinkler heads to be just above the soil or way above the bed to water everything. My bed set up has 5ft tall post at the corners and in the middle so putting water up high will be easy. Which will be best for my plants?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Karen,
      Watering low, around the base of the plant is preferable, as watering from up high can cause the water to splash in the soil, spreading potential disease to the leaves.

  19. Jen says:

    This is very helpful, especially the grocery store idea. 🙂 My husband just recently built me an elevated planter box (about 2 feet tall 8x4ish). My biggest concern: deer & nighttime critters. Deer regularly hang out on our property (without any vegetables). Where exactly on your diagram would you plant the deer deterrent flowers (around entire perimeter)? Would lavender and/or other herbs around the ends work to deter them as well? We have also purchased wire mesh to go around the sides, however still concerned. thank you!

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Jen, I’m not sure the plants would act as a deterrent, the deer just wouldn’t eat them and maybe not find the veggies on the other side. But I think you may want to rely on wire mesh that they can’t leap over.

    • Amanda Lee says:

      I used to work at a local hardware store/garden center. The garden experts there always suggested Morganite to deter deer from coming into a space.

  20. Liz says:

    Hi Tara,
    I am confused as the soil we will need for our 4X8 bed. Our local store offers a reasonable professional potting mix soil. Would that work?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Liz, I would look for a bag that says vegetable garden soil rather than potting mix for such a big raised bed. Potting mix is a more lightweight mix that’s formulated for containers.

  21. Keani Caputi says:

    Hi!

    I want to follow your first small plan. My bed lies east -west. What direction should I plant at the top/ bottom, onions/carrots ?

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Keani, I would watch where the shadows fall throughout the day – from your house, trees, fence, etc. Plant the onions and carrots on the side that gets the least amount of shade throughout the day.

  22. Liz says:

    Thanks so much Tara!

  23. Isaac says:

    Hello Tara!

    I am interested in planting my first 4×8 Bed, and was interested in the family plot that you laid out… I was curious, is late May still okay for that sort of layout for Growing zone 7A? I was unsure if carrots were an option during the summer, or if maybe I should swap out and do a couple of cabbages there instead? Thank you for the wonderful guide for us noobies!

  24. Jennifer says:

    I am using 2 pallets as my 1st ever “raised” bed. I’ve removed several of the wood pieces so there are 6 equal “holes” in each pallet. I have the pallets side by side with 2 tomato cages between them. I layed landscaping fabric down first, then the pallets and then newspaper. I plan to cover the newspaper with soil and then plant. My question is, will that be deep enough for my vegetables to grow well? I have peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, spinach and onions.

  25. Jeff says:

    My family and I just built our first raised garden bed off the ground. However I’m a tad concerned as I used MCA (Micronized Copper Azole) treated wood, but from what I’ve read newer treated wood is harmless and doesn’t leech in to the wood like the older pressure treated. After spending all day building my garden box, I’m curious if I should at some point replace, at the very least the sides (majority of dirt touches), to make it safer. Thoughts?

  26. Charmaine Dizon says:

    Hi Tara!

    Thank you so much for the information and diagrams. All so helpful! Attempting my first veggie garden and just got my first 6ft long x 3ft wide x 10” depth raised bed. I think I bought way more plants than I need so I may need a second raised bed! My question is, is it too much of I plant the all the plants listed below in my bed?

    Husky cherry tomato (determinate)
    1 2qt tomato
    3 20 oz bell peppers
    1 Eggplant
    1 full grown Jalapeño
    2 celery & 1 carrot (grown from roots)

    I also read it’s good to stagger them? I plan on putting the full grown jalapeño, tomatoes and eggplant on the back row. All except for the bell peppers are growing fruits and veggies!

    Thank you so much for your guidance!

    • Tara Nolan says:

      Hi Charmaine,
      I think all these plants will fit just fine. You could have a row of peppers, a row with the tomato, jalapeño and eggplant, a row of celery and a row of carrots. You can stagger them a bit so that you have room for cages or stakes.

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