Building a Keyhole Garden

2 Materials
7 Days

Have terrible soil? Living in the middle of a drought but still want fresh vegetables? Then you need a keyhole garden!
A keyhole garden is a circular raised bed 6' diameter and 3' tall with a 1-foot indention in the side. These dimensions keep the soil you place in the bed from drying out too fast and allow the plant roots enough room to move. NOTE: Do not divert from these dimensions.
At the crest of the indentation, a "center feeding basket" of chicken wire is placed for tossing compost scraps.
Scraps such as fruit/veg peelings and coffee grounds are deposited directly into the basket and break down releasing nutrients directly to the plant roots. As a results, keyhole garden reduce the need for a separate compost bin.
Compost scraps break down within a matter of days/weeks in a keyhole depending on the heat and moisture.
The first step to building a keyhole is deciding what materials you will use. Keyholes can be built with practically anything strong: bricks, cinder blocks, pavers, etc. Cinder blocks make for an easy build (if so, you will need 50 bricks). In my case, I used limestone because I found a free source on Craigslist. Plus, I found it more aesthetic.
The next step is to measure out your circle and indentation. You will need a stick, rope, measuring tape and spray paint. From there, I dry-stacked the limestone to make sure I created a stable structure. Once I was satisfied, I carefully deconstructed the bed and restacked it using mortar as glue.
To learn more about building your own keyhole garden, please refer to my blog post below! Also, please see my second and third posts: Filling A Keyhole Garden and Maintaining A Keyhole Garden.

Suggested materials:

  • Quikrete Mortar Mix  (any hardware store)
  • Flat pieces limestone  (Craigslist)

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Leilani Smith

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Richard Elphick
    Richard Elphick
    on Jul 9, 2016

    Hi there, I get all the concept of the keyhole garden which I have been contemplating for awhile. Where is the mesh for the compost placed? I don't see anywhere in you photos - I assume it must be somewhere central? Richard E.

    • Leilani Smith
      Leilani Smith
      on Jul 9, 2016

      Yes! It's at the crest of the indentation. Place wire basket about a foot away from the wall though. For more pictures visit blog link below!

Join the conversation

2 of 14 comments
  • Aseem Khan
    Aseem Khan
    on Aug 16, 2015

    Sir instead of brick wall or any other things scrapped tyres of big vehicle such as truck or tractor can be used tyres are useless so make a better use of it to help environment and save money too

  • Rhonda W
    Rhonda W
    on Apr 27, 2016

    I have seen them made from numerous materials. Even wood

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