Some of you may have heard of a keyhole garden or bed and wondered what it is all about? Well, it is quite simple in concept, can be as dramatic or simple as you like! There is no fixed dictated design which we must All follow, it is up to you based on your time available, materials at hand,resources, space etc.

Basically, it is normally a raised bed (High enough as to prevent much bending over) encircled with recycled rocks / bricks or other materials, but with a little opening so that you can reach into the middle without stretching over the bed and plants. In the middle there is a ”basket” which reaches down into the depths of the compost / soil and is open top so you can throw in food scraps and water the bed from there too.
Keyhole gardens seem to be popular in Africa especially in the north and there is even a UK based charity (Send A Cow) Who help promote these in the countries that they operate in. From what I gather, they do originate in Africa, possibly Kenya.

Traditional Keyhole Garden in North Africa

Below is a good diagram image of the keyhole garden design and concept:

Side / Overhead View Keyhole Garden Design

The benefits are that the design prevents strain from bending or over reaching, the composting system is built-in so there is no need for a separate compost pile or area, watering through the compost system helps to draw nutrients into the soil and towards the root area, the compost system is warm thereby creating a better environment for the plants and root system – this increases the season length as well!! and finally, no risk of compaction by stepping on the beds / soil.

Further examples of how individuals used the concept to their own requirement/s:

Keyhole Garden made from Recycled Bottles

Normal Bed with keyhole points for ease of access

Spectacular Keyhole Garden made with sacks

The beginnings of a Keyhole Garden project

The only question that now remains is, if you have the space in your garden or on your land, why not start one? …

  1. We just planted our first one – keen to see how it works out. Ours is a bit on the low side due to a lack of materials and soil but we thought it was better to start one than spens another year talking about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sven S. says:

      Hello quercuscommunity! How did yours turn out? I am very interested in these concepts since learning about Permaculture, I would like to see your results because here in Sweden I am now spending the next 8 months to prepare for next summer, this keyhole concept is good and I would like to consider to start building one soon.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sven S. says:

    Again, thank you growingarden for sharing this good information! are any of these designs yours? meaning, are they photo’s of your own projects? Please give more information if so, of any tips and errors you made because I think I will start preparing 1or 2 of these for next summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeffpermie says:

      No not right now Sven, my garden is too small for this type of project but I now have a second piece of land that I plan to install one on, but still that may be months from now, keep checking back on the blog for an update, I am sure I will be posting pictures and tips about my experience.


  3. […] For more on African / Kenyan related Permaculture, check out an older post on African Keyhole Raised Beds. […]


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