Most community gardens have several features in common, no matter what type of garden they are. Some of those features will include pathways between either the plots or different parts of the garden.
They might include a source for water – a water area where the hydrant is located that the gardeners can get water, or even several hydrants where water can be procured.
A community garden is also likely to have an area for tools and perhaps a shed. It might also have compost bin for recycling dead plants and weeds. Or, it may have a compost pile where compost can be taken and used for the garden.
Another common feature of a community garden might be a fence. This depends on the neighborhood, and what the desires of the gardeners are for safety and security of the garden.
It’s also nice to have an area in the shade for a spot with a picnic table or other seating where gardeners can socialize a bit and take a break when it’s hot and sunny. Depending on the size of the garden and the proximity to other amenities in the neighborhood, you may want to have some sort of portable toilet for gardeners to use when they’re out working in the garden.
Deciding where the different features of the garden can be can be sort of a daunting task the first time you do it. You’ll want to look for areas that may not be great for gardening such as a spot that’s a little shadier for your social area, or for your compost bin. Or, you may want to put your compost bin in a spot where the ground has a lot of gravel.
Where the water goes is going to depend on the water source. It may come from a neighboring building from city water, or from a well. So, you may want to decide where the water is going to be first before planning the rest of the garden.
Then, the layout of the paths and the plots is going to depend a lot on where those other features are located. For example, if the water source is at one corner of the garden, you’ll want to make sure to layout the plots and plan your pathways so that it’s easy to move hoses and water down those pathways instead of having to drag hoses through other gardener’s areas.
In a garden where gardeners will be renting individual plots, a very typical size for new gardeners is to start with a plot that is about ten feet by ten feet. This is a size that’s big enough to grow a good number of vegetables, but not so much that a new gardener might be overwhelmed by the size.
A lot of gardens will also find that they want some larger plots. They may want a ten by twenty foot plot, or even ten by twenty five for more experienced gardeners. This is a good option if there is plenty of space to allow some gardeners a larger area to garden.
Sometimes a community garden may decide to have some raised beds. This option is for people that don’t want as much of an area, or are not physically capable of a larger garden plot. A raised bed might be about four feet wide by eight feet long, or even longer – depending on the space and resources.
This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at KansasGreenYards.org.