Practical Planning for Square Foot Gardening

With the increasing popularity of urban farming, backyard beekeeping, and chicken coops, square foot gardening (SFG) has been attracting a great deal of attention. It makes sense, as SFG not only provides people without a lot of room the means to produce a truly impressive quantity of veggies or ornamentals, but it also optimizes yield and can increase output several times over.

lift hand truck 3

However, the initial establishment of a square foot garden can be a bit of an investment of time, money, and energy. It’s the energy that will be addressed here—primarily how to make the best use of it and what materials and tools can help ease the job.

Plan on Some Heavy Lifting

The archetypal SFG setup is a raised bed or group of uniform raised beds, commonly about four feet by four feet. The soil in those beds has been separated by a grid into individual plots that are usually about one square foot. Each plot has a specific, designated number of plants determined by the size of the plot and the species of flora being planted.

SFG features a specific “soil” type that’s not topsoil, potting soil, or garden soil. It’s a specific blend that consists of a third of peat moss, vermiculite, and composts. That’s “composts,” plural because SFG plots tend to do better with as diverse a mixture of composts as you can find, such as cow manure, chicken manure, spent mushroom substrate, etc. There are also bags of premixed specific SFG blends (though many purists frown on those).

While the traditional SFG guides suggest a soil depth of six inches, that will considerably limit what you can grow, which is why 12-inch deep plots are gaining popularity. Foot-deep soil means more diversity of plant life, but it also means you’ll need to haul twice as many materials to your SFG site. And, unless you already have empty raised beds in place, you’ll also be carrying in the wood and hardware to build the beds, or will be transporting prefab beds.

The Best Tools for the Job

Nothing has more potential to make the SFG process less fun than strain-waddling under the crushing weight of a 3-4 cubic foot bale of compressed peat moss or hauling a couple dozen bags of compost from your car to your SFG plot. Thankfully, the process can be made far more efficient and less strenuous by employing the right tools.

While many gardeners opt for the wheelbarrow, a good collapsible hand truck offers many benefits. Aside from saving your back from having to lift materials into a wheelbarrow, a hand truck will offer a less wobbly trip, which will lessen the chances of your load ending up on the ground. Also, no one ever got jabbed in the gut from a hand truck’s handle—which is more than what could be said for when a wheelbarrow’s single wheel butts into something that a hand truck would roll over.

The collapsible hand truck is also great because it can be handily converted from a standard hand truck configuration to a handled, four-wheeled dolly. The dolly arrangement is optimal for hauling boards, prefab planting beds, or other longer, more awkward material.

If the SFG site is situated on a plot that requires hauling supplies up and down stairs, definitely consider a stair climbing cart, which is designed explicitly for navigating stairs.

Whatever tools work best for your specific situation, investing in the right gear can be the difference between a smooth path to a great outdoor hobby, and a whole lot of frustration, time, and energy wasted—as well as unnecessary back pain. Good luck and happy planting!

About Magline

Magline is the material handling industry’s premier provider of material transporting solutions. The Magline name has become a byword for safe, effective, reliable, and trustworthy loading, unloading, and transport of everything that keeps your business going. Magline has provided products, like the hand lift truck, of the highest quality for more than 70 years. They are committed to furnishing equipment that works as hard as you do.

Learn more about Magline’s tradition of safety and excellence at

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