How to create your own keyhole garden

By Practical Action On 19.08.2021

Grow at home

You may have heard about Pfumvudza – a brilliant, environmentally friendly farming technique which we helped communities in drought-prone Zimbabwe to pioneer. It’s produced great results for maize and grain crops. 

Keyhole gardens are a feature of horticultural engineering, combining all natural elements to improve growing conditions in any climate. Another sustainable solution that’s been adopted by communities in Zimbabwe, it’s a technique that can improve growing conditions and results in easy-to access vegetable crops. 

In fact, keyhole gardens are ideal for people living in any region with unpredictable weather patterns, and that includes the infamous British weather! Why not use our easy-to-follow guide to build your own keyhole garden? Creating your own keyhole garden will help you bring some ingenious knowledge to your back garden and can even help you grow your own greenery.

Keyhole gardens retain moisture, supply nutrients to surrounding plants and grow in all climates, making them a brilliant solution for farmers in Zimbabwe – and all that within a six-foot radius.

Now we encourage you to try building a keyhole garden at home!

Follow our guide below to find out how.





“Through growing crops on keyhole gardens I am guaranteed of eating a healthy meal everyday together with my family.”
Tafadzwa Chindawandi, smallholder farmer in Makoni

Here’s how to create your keyhole garden:

1. Plot the area for the garden’s bed – 3 feet all round from your centre point

2. Construct side walls from bricks, logs and stones

3. Build composting basket – wire, bamboo stakes or hard-wearing cloth work well

4. Secure the basket, making sure it keeps shape

5. Fill the basket, using about 18 inches of good quality soil. The soil should be conical in shape, surrounding the basket in the middle.

6.Cover the soil in a thick layer of compost. This will create a moisture reservoir that will capture the water and nutrients your plants need to thrive.

7. Add plants to your new keyhole garden – and remember to water!


Practical Action supporters Esther and John recently built their own keyhole gardens at home. They’ve kindly agreed to let us share them with you. 

“Following your suggestion that we try to create our own keyhole gardens, here is my version – planted in South-East England. This is the keyhole garden’s first year, with rocket, bush beans and spring onions all growing brilliantly. I like it so much, I might build another one!” – Esther

Have a look at their amazing handiwork below – we hope you feel inspired to creating a keyhole garden yourself.

Esther’s keyhole garden

John’s keyhole garden