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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Post  LarryH 2/22/2018, 10:21 pm

I would like to hear from those who have paths that are less then Mel's 3' recommendation.  How wide?  Is it working for you?  Would you do it again?  Thanks everyone.
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Post  Scorpio Rising 2/22/2018, 10:32 pm

My beds are in my yard, so I have to be able to get my riding mower in there...
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Post  yolos 2/22/2018, 10:33 pm

3 ft wide here and would not do less.
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Post  sanderson 2/22/2018, 11:00 pm

For beds on the ground, I would recommend 3'. Nothing less than the width of the lawn mower and wheelbarrow. I set up some beds (tiny backyard) 2 feet apart for the lawn mower. Then we had to buy a new one and it was 1" wider than the old one. Shocked I would stick with 3'. Full grown plants can really spill over the sides of the beds.

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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 2/22/2018, 11:49 pm

I started with the old square foot gardening book, which suggested narrow paths. When I switched some of it to ANSFG raised beds I kept the same path size to avoid losing the good soil I'd made. I think I've called them my legacy paths in previous posts here. The 12-18" paths -- I would NOT do that again. Evil or Very Mad Once the plants grow, it's too hard to walk past -- or bend over without affecting plants on one's 'back side.' I've broken stems. Path Width 3555472862 

2 foot is the absolute minimum I would consider going forward... but even that doesn't work with all plants, and alas, usually has me cranky by the end of the growing season. Mad I like 30", even though it's not an even number of feet. I have wood chips on my paths, so I don't need to fit a mower (and what have is a reel mower anyhow), and for now, my "wheel barrow" is balancing a bucket/tub on a handtruck. 36" seems like a lot to devote to paths, but it's actually reasonable.

Narrow paths seem more efficient, but ultimately aren't practical if you need to access the average plant for individual watering, pest control, trellising/pinching, etc.. If you have a plant that, after sowing/transplanting, you can totally ignore until pulling/harvesting them in their entirety, narrow paths would work there... but those plants are uncommon, and it takes experimentation to figure out what they are for your area. Even then, you'd want several such plants to rotate through, in different plant families, rather than growing the same sort of plants in the same squares every year.

My main path is somewhat larger than 36", and it works well to sort of balance out the 30" side paths, so I have room to temporarily leave stuff in the garden (buckets, piles of whatever.) I'll note, since it affects my dimensions relative to the paths - I'm short (5'2"). The 4ft wide beds are a little awkward for me to reach the center of. I will likely, when I move and start a new garden space, reluctantly have some 3' wide beds. 4' wide is more efficient only if I can tend the plants.
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Post  trolleydriver 2/23/2018, 11:23 am

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:I started with the old square foot gardening book, which suggested narrow paths. When I switched some of it to ANSFG raised beds I kept the same path size to avoid losing the good soil I'd made. I think I've called them my legacy paths in previous posts here. The 12-18" paths -- I would NOT do that again. Evil or Very Mad Once the plants grow, it's too hard to walk past -- or bend over without affecting plants on one's 'back side.' I've broken stems. Path Width 3555472862 

2 foot is the absolute minimum I would consider going forward... but even that doesn't work with all plants, and alas, usually has me cranky by the end of the growing season. Mad I like 30", even though it's not an even number of feet. I have wood chips on my paths, so I don't need to fit a mower (and what have is a reel mower anyhow), and for now, my "wheel barrow" is balancing a bucket/tub on a handtruck. 36" seems like a lot to devote to paths, but it's actually reasonable.

Narrow paths seem more efficient, but ultimately aren't practical if you need to access the average plant for individual watering, pest control, trellising/pinching, etc.. If you have a plant that, after sowing/transplanting, you can totally ignore until pulling/harvesting them in their entirety, narrow paths would work there... but those plants are uncommon, and it takes experimentation to figure out what they are for your area. Even then, you'd want several such plants to rotate through, in different plant families, rather than growing the same sort of plants in the same squares every year.

My main path is somewhat larger than 36", and it works well to sort of balance out the 30" side paths, so I have room to temporarily leave stuff in the garden (buckets, piles of whatever.) I'll note, since it affects my dimensions relative to the paths - I'm short (5'2"). The 4ft wide beds are a little awkward for me to reach the center of. I will likely, when I move and start a new garden space, reluctantly have some 3' wide beds. 4' wide is more efficient only if I can tend the plants.
Excellent points Beetles.  I have some two foot and some three foot wide paths.  I prefer the three footers.  I also agree with the narrow beds and my latest beds have all been either two feet or three foot across.  So instead of 4x4 I have gone with 3x6 and 2x6.  However, I do like my 4x4 chicken wire cages over the square beds. Have not built any cages for the narrower beds.
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Post  Mikesgardn 2/23/2018, 5:37 pm

I have beds with 1-foot paths, 2-foot, and 3-foot paths.  If you have the space, go with 3-foot.  If not, use 2-foot.  And if that won't work, use 1-foot, but understand that many plants will splay into the path unless you use some sort of mesh fencing to keep them within the box.
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Post  donnainzone5 2/23/2018, 7:20 pm

3' minimum.  

In my former, shady Southern California garden, I tried 19" wide paths between beds to try to maximize available sunlight and growing space.  

Balance was difficult, and when my disabled brother came to visit, nearly impossible.  As you can see from this birds'-eye photo, the space was extremely cramped.  There were walls to the east, west, and north.  The south side was inhibited by a 30' olive tree.  

https://www.estately.com/listings/info/6565-green-valley-circle--26
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Post  Turan 2/23/2018, 9:12 pm

I have two foot wide paths. For the most part that is wide enough for me sitting on my garden stool while working on a bed. I do wish that the long path that dissects the garden was three foot wide for ease of wheel barrow use. I doubt that will ever happen though, It would mean cutting back a tasty apple tree or moving asparagus. I have learned to keep squash to areas where there is nothing to crowd and to plant broccoli to the center of a three foot wide bed. Most of my beds are now three foot wide. In the green house I have a 30" path and that works really well even late in the season when everything is straining at the boundaries.

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Post  sanderson 2/23/2018, 9:39 pm

donnainzone5 wrote:3' minimum.  

In my former, shady Southern California garden, I tried 19" wide paths . . .  As you can see from this birds'-eye photo, the space was extremely cramped. 
What a cute back yard! I also have a small back yard, just slightly larger.

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Post  donnainzone5 2/23/2018, 11:20 pm

Sanderson,

One of my prospective buyers (the unit was only listed for three days) said she'd maintain the garden, and I gave her daughter some instructions on how to do so, and left a copy of ANSFG.  

When I learned that she had everything but the rose bushes torn out, I was furious, as you can well imagine.
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Post  Kate888 2/28/2018, 10:11 am

I agree with the 3'.  I had to go check mine, I thought they were less than 3' and I sometimes feel a little crowded once the plants are in full swing and sometimes overhanging the boxes.  But they are all 3' wide, so I wouldn't want it narrower than that.
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Post  sanderson 2/28/2018, 1:29 pm

3' wide isle.  I had to crab walk under this part. Path Width Garden20

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Post  Kate888 2/28/2018, 2:12 pm

Wow!  That's impressive, Sanderson.
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