How to Make a Keyhole Garden

Jun 1, 2017

What is a keyhole garden?

A keyhole garden is a raised, circular garden bed with a keyhole-shaped indentation on one side. The indentation allows gardeners easy access to the garden in order to add uncooked vegetable scraps, grey-water, and manure into a composting basket that sits in the center of the bed. Typically, the walls are made of stone to give the garden a rigid shape, and to help trap moisture in the bed.

    Why are keyhole garden necessary?

    Having healthy food to eat is essential for people around the world. In Lesotho, where almost 1/4 people are sick with HIV/AIDS, it is especially important that grandmothers are able to grow vegetables to keep themselves and their orphaned grandchildren healthy (especially if they are HIV+ and require nutritious food to help digest their ARV medication). Because seeds and garden tools are very expensive, keyhole gardens are a sustainable, inexpensive solution to feeding these rural families.

    What are the benefits of a keyhole garden?

    Key Hole Gardens:

    • Take very little space
    • Do not waste valuable land
    • Make gardening easy
    • Self-fertilize by using garden waste as fuel to grow vegetables
    • Allow frail and/or disabled grandmothers to easily access their crops
    • Keep animals from eating the produce due to the raised beds
    • Require less water
    • Produce 2—10X the number of vegetables

    A granny sits with two young grandsons near her keyhole garden. The garden is a fresh food sourse for the family.

    How to build a keyhole garden:


    • Old soda cans (crushed up)
    • Large stones/bricks
    • Long sticks and a strong string
    • Soil, compost, sand, ash, manure and straw


    1. Choose a flat area approx. 3m squared.
    2. Build the centre ‘basket’ of the garden with the sticks and string. This basket will be filled with cans/compost to feed the garden.
    3. Use large stones to build the garden wall. Leave an area wide enough to stand in while tending the garden.
    4. Fill the garden with a layer of cans (for drainage), then soil/manure/straw/ash as you build upwards to waist height.

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