Fresh and Early 4 x 4 foot Salad Garden

Plant this salad garden for fresh, flavorful salads homegrown in just a 4 x 4 garden bed.Lettuces and greens love cool weather, so plant in spring or fall and start harvesting immediately. If your clan love salads, you’re in luck—this bed supplies enough for the whole family. You’ll be surprised with how much salad you’ll harvest from a small, but well-tended space. Designed for easy maintenance, a 4 x 4 bed lets you reach the center from any side.

This planting plan should give you plenty of lettuces and greens for salads. If you want to expand your garden, place two 4 x 4 beds symmetrically on either side of a 3 to 4-foot path, wide enough for you and your tools. Try the Easy Summer Garden or the Fresh and Handy Herb Garden for the second bed.

4x4 salad garden raised bed

Planting the 4 x 4-foot Bed

Take inspiration from these planting options. The plan allows for some interpretation depending on your taste. These plants are pictured small to make the illustration simpler, but your bed will be spilling over as the plants grow! Following spacing on the plant labels, adding a few more plants than we have pictured if the spacing allows.

Plant the salad greens and herbs that you want for your early salad garden.Area 1 – Lettuce and Greens

Plant three rows, one each of leaf lettuce, arugula, and spinach or mix it up according to your preferences or availability.

  • 6 leaf lettuce (choose Buttercrunch, Romaine, or Red Sails)
  • 4 arugula
  • 6 spinach

Area 2 – Herbs and Tall Greens

  • 2 kale or Swiss chard
  • 2 parsley (choose Italian or Curled)
  • 3 chives

13 Comments

Vivian Cantello

I have a large garden and till the soil every spring before planting. If I use 4 x 4 beds, is it necessary to do deep tilling in them?

Danielle Carroll

It is not usually necessary since the soil in the raised bed is a loose soil that was ‘made’ for the soil. Since we do not step in the beds there is no compaction from our steps. I have raised beds and find that when I remove spent plants, I just add more organic matter and keep on planting! – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Mary Maddox

I’m doing a 4×4 raised bed for first time. I’ve only planted tomato plants before. This plan is almost perfect for me. I’m coping area 1 as is. Having trouble with area 2. I’d like to plant some catnip for my 2 cats. Can I put it in area 2? I also want to not have any wasted space so can any of the following also be put in same bed? Broccoli, Radish, Carrot. Any and all advise greatly appreciated.

Danielle Carroll

Hi Mary,
Yes, you certainly could add broccoli, radishes and carrots in that space or catnip. Be aware that catnip is a low growing perennial. Perennial plants come back from the roots for several years. It may use the space for several years. Your cats are going to be very happy!
-Danielle, Bonnie Plants

Diane

My suggestion is to plant Nepeta or catnip in the garden border, rather than in this small bed, as it grows quite large and leggy and is a perennial. Also if your kitties visit the fresh patch, they might very well roll all over your edibles! Yes, kitties love fresh catnip and munch and roll.

Tiffany Siok

I just built 2 – 4×4 raised beds and have started my own seeds. I love this info. Can you tell me what goes well with summer squash and zuccini? Which type of bed should I plant them in? What can I plant next to them? I live in Chicago and plan to put them in the ground around memorial day.
Thanks,
Tiffany

Kelly Smith

Hi Tiffany,

Congrats on your new raised beds! Summer squash and zucchini are two of our favorite summer vegetables. They grow rather wide and take up some space in a garden. You’ll want to plant these plants near the edge or corner of your beds so they can spill over the sides a bit. I suggest putting the squash in one 4 x 4 bed and the zucchini in another. If you plant them both in the same bed, you won’t have room for much else. As for companions, you could try tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, and herbs. I suggest planting 2 of the tall plants in each 4 x 4 bed, so either 2 tomatoes, a tomato and an eggplant, a tomato and a pepper, or 2 peppers…you get the idea. You can fill in with a few onions or a low-growing herb, such as thyme or oregano. So one bed might have a zucchini, 2 eggplants (with stakes or cages), and some oregano, while the other has a summer squash, a few onions, a tomato (with cage), and a pepper (with stake or cage). You can grow a surprising amount in a small space, but try not to get over-zealous and overcrowd.

Good luck growing! We hope you’ll try some of our Bonnie transplants in biodegradable pots in addition to growing your own plants from seed.

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Kelly Smith

Hi Mike,

The dimensions for our Super Easy Raised Bed and Raised Bed plans range from 6 inches deep to 18 inches deep. Many ready-made raised bed kits start at 4 inches deep but can be stacked for a deeper bed. If your raised bed is just 4 to 6 inches deep, you must prepare the ground underneath so plant roots can reach into the native soil. If your soil is terrible for growing vegetables and you want vegetables to be grown completely within the raised bed, you need to go at least 12 to 18 inches deep. I hope this helps!

Best,
Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Noreen

Hello,

Regarding this article about the 4 x 4 salad garden, in zone 5b, what is the soonest you can plant? This article is saying right now, but is that just for the southern states. I live in SE Michigan.

Thank you,
Noreen

kelly

Hi Noreen,

This garden plan includes both hardy greens and semi-hardy lettuces, so you will need to wait a bit to plant. See our article “Which Veggies for Which Season” for more information, then click on the USDA Frost Map for more info about last freezes in your zone. You can plant this Salad Garden plan before, but a little closer to, your last freeze date. However, you can start planning and building your bed now!

Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Christie

Noreen: I live a little south of you (east-central IL), but have successfully planted lettuce mid or the end of March. Just depends on the kind of spring you’re having. I’ve warmed the soil by putting an old window across my raised bed (acting like a cold frame) or also with black plastic. It pushes the timing, but I figure seeds aren’t too expensive and if I get salad greens earlier, it’s worth the effort.

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