Summer Vegetable Square Foot Garden Plans

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What’s inside this post: These easy summer vegetable garden plans are a great way for beginning gardeners to get started growing a garden.

Most beginning gardeners are so excited to start their garden that they get carried away. They often try to plant a large garden and then get overwhelmed.

I always recommend new gardeners start small. Growing your own food is a skill that takes time to learn. And growing a large garden your first or second year is a recipe for overwhelm and is likely to make you not enjoy gardening.

A small 4-foot by 4-foot raised bed garden is the perfect size to get started with vegetable gardening. If you have more experience, you can always put a couple of these plans together, side by side, in a larger garden bed.

And one of the most common questions I get from new gardeners is how to lay out their garden space. What plants should they plant and where should they plant them? What is the proper plant spacing?

Small Backyard Garden Plans

To help you, I’ve got 3 summer vegetable garden plans that are perfect for a small backyard garden.

If you have my spring garden plan, (Get all 5 garden plans here.) the vegetables in these garden bed plans can be planted as soon as you harvest the spring garden, as I have prepared them for succession planting. I’ll also share how to plant this garden while still harvesting some of the spring vegetables.

These summer gardening plans are loosely based on the square-foot gardening method which was created by Mel Bartholomew. This planting method is a great way for beginning gardeners to get started.

The small size of these plans makes it easy to “try out” gardening to see if it is something you enjoy. A square foot garden bed is usually much less work than a traditional garden and these plans utilize the available space to get you a lot of produce in a little bit of space.

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Affiliate Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links and I may receive a small commission if you purchase something through a link. It will not change your cost. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see my disclosures page.)

How to Get Started Using Your Summer Vegetable Garden Plans

To start your summer garden, you will need to either have an established vegetable garden or buy or build a garden bed. You can use stock tanks, wooden raised beds, straw bales, or purchase garden bed kits with step-by-step instructions.

Concrete blocks, bricks, or rocks are a good option to build your bed if you need an inexpensive raised garden bed. Sometimes you can even get these materials for free from friends.

You need to locate your garden bed in a place that gets full sun at least 8 hours a day and ideally will be near a water source so you don’t have to carry water a long way. Try to keep the garden bed away from tree roots as they can steal water from your vegetables.

You need to fill the bed with good-quality garden soil. Good soil is the most important thing you can do to have a healthy, successful garden. Poor soil is one of the main reasons gardens fail.

Purchasing Plants vs. Seeds

You will want to purchase some plants and some seeds. I’ve suggested purchasing plants for several of the vegetables because they need to be started early and can be difficult to start from seed indoors if you don’t have a grow light.

Other vegetables will do just fine being started from seed sown directly in the ground. Many of them may even do better since you don’t have to worry about transplant shock.

That’s why I’ve suggested seeds for some of the vegetables. (Please note that you will be planting many of the seeds closer together than the seed packet suggests.)

By purchasing a combination of plants and seeds, you are saving money while getting the most bang for your buck. And you can plant this kitchen garden all at once, in one afternoon.

summer garden plans
These 3 summer garden plans are perfect for beginning gardeners. Their small size makes them a perfect garden to plant to see how you enjoy growing your own vegetables.

You Need to Purchase:


  • a tomato plant (1) of your choice-cherry, grape, paste, or slicer, whatever you prefer. If you aren’t sure, go with a cherry type.
  • basil (1)
  • peppers (2) They can both be bell pepper plants or you can choose 1 bell pepper and one jalapeno. I’ve got all the details about how to grow peppers in this post.
  • eggplant (1)


Miscellaneous Items:

You will use the tomato cage to stake the tomato and use the fence posts and trellis netting to grow the cucumbers vertically to save space.

If you don’t like a particular vegetable included in this plan, feel free to swap it for something else. There is no point in growing a vegetable you don’t like. Keep in mind the space requirements for the different vegetables if you do switch things up.

How To Plant Your Summer Garden

Wait until after all danger of frost has passed to plant your summer garden. Everything in the summer plans is frost sensitive, meaning even a light frost will kill it.

Don’t know your frost dates? You can find them here.

When you get ready to plant your garden from the plan, remember to orient your garden north to south if possible. Locate your garden where you get sun most of the day.

You will need to plant taller crops on the north (or west) side and shorter plants on the south (or east) side. This allows your garden to get maximum sun without taller plants shading the shorter ones and possibly causing them to produce less.

Check out my square-foot gardening post if you need a reminder of how much room each vegetable takes. For instance, if you aren’t a fan of eggplant, swap it out for a jalapeno pepper plant. Or if you aren’t a fan of squash or zucchini, you can plant a second tomato in the same space.

Once you plant your garden, try to keep the soil moisture consistent. You may need to water 2 to 3 times a week if it doesn’t rain. Raised bed gardens tend to dry out a bit quicker than in the ground beds.

Using the square-foot gardening method allows you to grow more plants in less space than growing an in-the-ground garden in traditional rows. By using intensive planting, you get more fresh produce without the hard work of a larger garden area.

If you planted the spring plan, start harvesting from the right side of the spring garden. This summer plan will allow you to plant the left side while leaving the spring crops in the garden. 

You can go ahead and plant the tomato and the squash or zucchini among the existing vegetables. As the summer vegetables get bigger, you will be finished harvesting the spring garden.

Grab Your Free Plans

You can download the summer vegetable garden plan completely free (no strings attached) right here.

If you would like to get the other 4 garden layout plans, you can sign up for my weekly newsletter below. There are plans for spring, summer (3 total), and fall so you can extend your growing season if you choose.

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See the Summer Garden Plan in Action

I planted this garden on April, 9. It really doesn’t look like much. Less than a month later you can see the progression of the garden with the beans and squash coming up. The tomato plant had grown significantly.

By July, we were harvesting lots of vegetables from this small area. If you plant this garden, I would love to see your pictures as well. You can tag me on Instagram using @dogwoodsanddandelions.

This is a small garden plan, but even so, you may end up with extra vegetables. If so, share with a neighbor.

If you want to save some of the summer goodness for later, check out my post on The Easiest Way to Preserve Tomatoes. I promise it’s super easy, and no special equipment is required.

If you have extra peppers, you can roast them and freeze them for later. Roasted red peppers are delicious on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Summer garden plan in June
Summer garden plan in June.

If the summer garden plan isn’t your style, keep reading to see how you can get two more plans (a summer salad garden and a salsa garden) completely free.

More Summer Vegetable Garden Plans

I also have two more beginner square foot gardening layout plans – a salad garden plan and a salsa garden plan.

The Salad Garden Plan

The salad garden plan is full of all the wonderful vegetables you would enjoy on a salad like cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and more. And of course, we are growing lettuce.

I’ve also included Swiss chard, as lettuce will bolt more quickly during the summer months. Swiss chard handles the heat a bit better than lettuce.

You will also notice that, unlike the spring garden, the summer plan has you plant your leafy greens on the North side of your tomatoes.

This will provide some shade for the leafy greens as the tomatoes get bigger during the hottest months. The lettuce may still go to seed, but providing some shade will help the plants last longer.

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The Salsa Garden Plan

With 3 boys, we can run through lots and lots of salsa around here, so I’m especially excited to grow this garden. The salsa garden plan includes 2 kinds of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and even a recipe to make a delicious fresh salsa.

There will be plenty of veggies for fresh eating too. You may even have extras. If you do end up with a bunch of extra vegetables, try this recipe for salsa that you can freeze.

You can get all 3 summer garden plans, plus the spring and fall plans including a full list of the plants and seeds you need for each plan, by signing up below.

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After the first year, and every following year, it is a good idea to amend the soil in your vegetable garden plot with some compost to add back nutrients that were depleted. (You can learn how to make your own compost if you would like.)

It is also a great idea to practice crop rotation which just means planting vegetable plants in a different location of the garden than you did the last year.

Before you know it, you’ll be harvesting lots of fresh produce from your small garden bed.

As always, I’m here to help if you have questions. You can leave a comment below or shoot me an email at julieb@dogwoodsanddandelions {dot} com.

Your Turn

Do you grow a garden? A big one or a small size garden? What’s your favorite vegetable to grow? Inquiring minds want to know. I would love it if you would leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media channel.

For More Information

3 summer garden plans on a wooden background with sunflowers in the lower right corner
These 3 small space summer vegetable garden plans are perfect for a backyard garden.

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  1. Hi Julie, It looks like you do what I do with my raised beds. I use string rather than wood slats to separate my squares. I find the slats annoying, especially for plans that need to utilize more than one square in the bed, like you have in some of your plans above. Thanks for the easy plans. I think this is absolutely the best method of gardening for beginners and it will get more people gardening. I talk about that in my post here that I think your readers would enjoy:

    1. I agree that raised beds and square foot gardening are perfect for beginners. Thanks for commenting.