The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to design your allotment layout

Allotment layout

Allotment layout

Apart from areas for growing fruit, vegetables and possibly flowers, every allotment needs to house some basics. A shed or some sort of shelter for when it rains, a composting area, a place to store tools and an area to relax and rest.

Our challenge is to grow enough fruit and veg to easily feed us, my mum and friends that would welcome an occasional basket of fresh organic produce. Our plot is large enough to experiment with growing a wide range of edible plants and pass on our findings to you.

Every one’s needs are different when it comes to growing your own.  There is one allotment plot on our site that just has a large shed and a patch of carefully tended lawn there are a few tomato plants. It’s easy to forget that you need to feed your soul too.

The great thing about starting from scratch on our allotment was that there were no established beds. Digging up the ryegrass has given us plenty of time to think about what we’d like to grow, what we need and the design of our plot.

Most of the plots on our allotment site have a similar layout. A side or central grass path and horizontal rows of crops, with mud paths in between. We started off by digging three horizontal borders – divided by grass paths. Then we decided that we’d like something a bit more interesting. But what layout would look good, be practical and make best use of our space?

Initially I reckoned that it would be fun to have a space filled with haphazard borders and surprises. But after a lot of sniffing around on allotment forums I found a design that really appealed to me. It is here – scroll down to the plan offered by Trebor. The original design was for a square plot, with similar sides to our design and four square borders in the centre. As our plot is long and thin we only have room for two slim borders at the middle of each section – although our plan is not really to scale you can see that we’ve stretched it to fit our space. The borders are purple* and the paths are green. The three existing horizontal beds are staying for the meantime. They are full of crops that we are already harvesting.

The upper part of the plot – from the start of horizontal borders – has a little shade in the afternoon from the large chicken house and fruit trees in the adjoining plot. The lower and sunnier part of the plot will have some permanent beds, for soft fruit and asparagus. Other perennial vegetables will be dotted about the plot – globe artichokes, perennial kale, walking onions and herbs.

Although the top of the plot is not the sunniest place it has a great view, looking down the hill to the other allotments. So Danny plans to construct his castle out of pallets there. We will keep the existing poultry shack (the white oblong) and make it secure. This will store our wheelbarrow and the few tools that stay permanently on the plot. Our special DeWitt tools travel back and forth with us in The Duchess’s capacious boot. The good news on the tool front is that D is happy to use my smaller tools as they are so beautifully balanced and easy to use so we haven’t had to invest in any new tools so far.

Danny’s castle roof will feed the water butts that will in turn water the plot through drip hoses. There will be a seating and eating area. The top blue oblong will be a small wildlife pond. At the bottom there is plenty of space for extra borders and a compost area.

Since taking on plot 90B we have been given the five rod plot that is next to the bottom sunnier section of our plot. 91B is more of a square plot and we’re working on the design of this together. I reckon that in the end it will be roughly based on Trebor’s design as it is such a practical plan with very little space given over to paths but with easy access to all borders.  I reckon with a couple of arches (£4.99 from QD) the overall effect will be a very pretty and manageable plot.

*Purple? I can almost hear your thoughts. Well why not include some purple passages in our layout? The allotment is supposed to be fun after all.

  Leave a reply


  1. CGIFlythrough

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. keV dale

    Hi everyone, my name is keV dale I’m a passionate hands on organic gardener, allotment holder and gardening writer.anybody who would like any advice please get in touch.

  3. Hi Fiona, hope all is well with you. Just wanted to alert you to some spam on your “le saucier” post. It’s asking people to use a link that I think may be hazardous.


  4. kathryn

    really wanted to see the allotment plan but my lovely computer says there is no file to see. Just taken on an allotment and could really do with some help, at the moment bar a shed its all grass.

  5. You are very fortunate. On our site, newcomers are only allowed half a plot or in some cases, a quarter, and nobody gets any more than they already have.

  6. I don’t know if this would be of any use but this guy seems to be on to something regarding pallet house design. Thought you might be interested.

  7. Just a gentle heads up – I’ve found it very hard to re-use pallet wood in the past. Some are held together with barbed nails that just won’t let go and they are difficult if not impossible to get any useful wood out of – most found their way into my Dad’s woodburner!
    Out of a stack of half a dozen I managed enough useful timber to make an ex-recycling plastic crate into a planter…

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