Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design – A concept we should all know

I was all excited to plan out my permaculture keyhole garden design on My Sheet Mulching Project in the garden plot.  When I started doing some research, I realized I had my terms mixed up and what I want to do is not known as keyhole gardening.  As of this moment, I’m not sure what it is called, but I figured I’d write this article and give an overview of what a keyhole design is.  I’ll post later on what I’m doing in my garden after I figure out exactly what it is called.


permaculture keyhole garden design

Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design

The basic premise of a permaculture keyhole garden design is to build a raised bed in a circular shape with a keyhole access path to a center hole.  If you are looking at it from above, it looks like a keyhole or to me it looks like a “packman” figure that swallowed a golf ball.  You then fill the keyhole or center hole with compost.  (See the picture titled “Permaculture Keyhole Garden Design”). The keyhole access path allows you to enter the circular shape and reach the center, so that you are able to access your produce without climbing into the keyhole.  It also allows you to add additional compost as the old compost breaks down.  You plant into the area around the keyhole.


The permaculture keyhole garden design provides a lot of benefits.  It gives you easy access to the plants, conserves space, gives you a tidy way to compost scraps and the compost provides a lot of nutrients to the plants you are growing.



In researching this article, the guidelines for diameter for the bed itself seems to be around 6 foot.  The compost area would be about one foot if you go with a 6-foot diameter bed.  The keyhole access path could be in a wedge shape or just a straight path.

The walls of the bed can be made out of anything you have laying around.  Scrap lumber, logs, rocks or whatever else you have.  I saw some nice looking ones on line that were made out of stones and I have a good supply of stones at out my farm, so that’s probably what I’m going to use.  See the picture titled “From”.


To make the compost area, you can use wire mesh or wire cloth to make a circle.  The picture below shows galvanized garden fence being used.  That looks like a good possibility to me. I’d probably lose the T-posts as the soil around the fence would be enough to hold the fence in place.  As long as the compost pile doesn’t get too low, it will keep the fence from collapsing.

Many of the designs show the lower parts of the planting area as a large compost area as well.  This would be a one-time compost area where you just add compost material and then cover with a few inches of soil for planting into.  This will add a lot of nutrients to the planting area initially and will eventually break down and become nutrient rich garden soil.  You will continue improving the soil because you continue to add compost to the center compost area that will keep the garden nutrient dense.  Click on the link for more information on Compost Information.

I’m not sure when, but I will be putting one of these together.  I’ll add it to my long to do list.  When I do build it, I’ll get plenty of videos for you.

Please give us your thoughts on permaculture keyhole garden design by commenting below.

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