kitchen garden design
Published November 16, 2022 by Nicole Burke

20 of Our Favorite Garden Projects Before and After

Filed Under:
kitchen garden
raised vegetable garden
raised kitchen garden
Powder Coated Steel Twin Garden Before and After

Before and After Shots Are One of Our Favorite Things at Gardenary

Ever since I founded Rooted Garden, I've been sharing the #beforeandafter of my kitchen garden installations, and I love the story they tell.

When you first look at an outdoor space, it can be difficult to see the possibility for a kitchen garden. But once you see the way the raised bed fits into the area, you can't imagine that space going back to the way it was before.

Here's a round up of some of our favorite #beforeandafter kitchen garden transformations.

Before and After a Border kitchen garden installed by Rooted Garden in Houston, Texas

Border Kitchen Garden in Narrow Side Yard

Pictured here is one of our favorite kitchen garden transformations, and you can believe this garden is pictured throughout my first book, Kitchen Garden Revival.

This is one of the most liked images I've ever shared, and lots of the Gardenary friends and followers say it's because it shows the potential to garden even in a smaller space. 

I can't help but agree. When I met with this wonderful client, they already had a vision for how they'd use their kitchen garden. They wanted to harvest loads of herbs and greens and have a space they could enjoy with their two young children. 

Sometimes it's difficult to picture the possibilities for a kitchen garden in a smaller space, but this before and after makes it totally believable, right?

Border Garden along a Fence Before and After

Border Garden Along a Fence

Border gardens can fit just about anywhere—like in that awkward strip between a fence and a driveway—thanks to their small profile.

This client didn't have the lawn space to commit to a large kitchen garden, but this design allows them to enjoy all the benefits of growing in raised beds. These clients still get to harvest herbs, veggies, fruits, and some flowers. Bonus: They can check on their garden every time they leave the house.

What I love about this kitchen garden is the fact that most people have a little spot like this one that can be redeemed and used to grow delicious food. It really is possible to bring back the kitchen garden, right?

(Learn more about border gardens and other small garden designs.)

Four Garden Classic Before and After

Four Garden Classic

In the spring of 2020 when the world shut down because of COVID-19, the interest in gardening picked up—big time. Thankfully, most gardening and landscaping companies were deemed essential businesses, so were able to keep working and creating new gardens to meet the increasing demands of everyone who was home and ready to start a garden ASAP.

This before and after was created right in the middle of quarantine, designed by our consultant Jill for Rooted Garden client Debra.

These clients had a nice, sunny spot in their side yard that just happened to be at least 15 feet wide, perfect for a four-garden classic layout.

To me, one good thing that came from 2020 was the societal realization that we needed to reconnect with nature, with the seasons, with real food, and with the garden. Here’s to the kitchen garden being much more than a quarantine trend, but an ordinary part of life again.

Before and After a keyhole garden designed by Nicole Burke of Rooted Garden in Houston Texas

Keyhole Kitchen Garden Designed for a Large Space

I owe the world to my first clients from Rooted Garden. They took me at my word and trusted me when all I had was a smile, loads of energy, and a promise that Houston was a great place to grow.

This client was one of the first to entrust a large space to me for their kitchen garden. She was already an avid gardener. Though the "before" space doesn't show it, she actually knew a lot about gardening and had loads of things growing throughout her landscape. 

When I suggested the keyhole design for this kitchen garden, she was all in. And I was so excited. It was quite a feat to bring in these beds and get them assembled in this spot, but the end result was amazing. 

Wanna know how this client found out about me and my new company Rooted Garden? Her dear friend Lori invited her over to see the garden I’d just set up for her (you'll see Lori's garden in a bit!).

That was how all the magic happened in the beginning and even now—one kind person sharing my vision and hope with another. It’s how every revival happens.

Here’s to spreading good news and bringing the kitchen garden back one friend at a time.

Front Yard Modern Kitchen Garden Before and After

Front Yard Modern Kitchen Garden

This little trio of raised beds is modern garden perfection. They say good things come in threes, right?

I loved creating this front yard kitchen garden for our client Mary Beth back in 2018. But my favorite part was arriving back in June, just one month after installation, to see the boxes overflowing with food. 

These beds utilize panel trellises to maximize their growing space. Panel trellises are the easiest to add to your garden space and can accommodate vining flowers and edible plants like pole beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, and fava beans—really anything that wants to climb. 

(Learn more about panel garden trellises.)

Small space L Shaped garden before and after

Small Space L-Shaped Garden

L-shaped gardens are the perfect solution for sunny corners in your outdoor space. To match this client's elegant home, we stained these wooden raised beds in Cabot Driftwood Gray stain, which is made from an all-natural pigment. Staining wood is a simple way to bring out the beauty of the grain.

Many thanks to Melissa for trusting us with this space and bringing back the kitchen garden with us. And, of course, to the team for making it happen!

(Learn more about staining raised garden beds.)

Elevate your backyard veggie patch into a sophisticated and stylish work of art

Kitchen Garden Revival guides you through every aspect of kitchen gardening, from design to harvesting—with expert advice from author Nicole Johnsey Burke, founder of Rooted Garden, one of the leading US culinary landscape companies, and Gardenary, an online kitchen gardening education and resource company.

Four Garden Classic Cedar Before and After

Four-Garden Classic with Cedar Raised Beds

Evidence that change can be a good thing.

There's a reason this layout is tried and true—a classic in the garden design world. The symmetry between the two sides of the garden creates balance, harmony, and order. Aesthetically speaking, four gardens are what I think of as kitchen garden design perfection.

And thanks to the four raised beds, this garden feels like a peaceful outdoor room. Imagine being able to escape the stressors of life for a bit in your own backyard and snip some herbs for dinner. I have a feeling that a four-garden classic kitchen garden would quickly become your favorite "room" in your home too.

(Learn more about four-garden classic layouts.)

I'm grateful to the clients for allowing us to turn over so much of their yard space to this beautiful kitchen garden!

Garden Upgrade Before and After

Kitchen Garden Upgrade

I dunno about you, but I wouldn't be super inspired to step outside daily and tend that "before" garden. Sure, plants are growing, but those raised beds are just not deep enough to practice intensive planting or give larger edible plants like tomatoes, kale, peppers, and eggplants the room they need to send their roots deep.

This is what we like to call a "Rooted Garden Renovation." We gave this client an upgrade with two 2ft-tall cedar raised beds and one large metal planter in the back for herbs.

Now the client can pack in the plants and grow their favorite climbing plants over that gorgeous arch trellis. And I bet their backs are thanking us now that they don't have to bend over as much to be at the level of the plants!

(Learn more about the ideal raised bed heights.)

This project’s a perfect example of how you can just start gardening (yes, right now!) and then increase and improve as you learn.

The trick is to just get started.

Here’s to starting small and going big and every step in between.

Huge Deer Fenced Kitchen Garden Before and After

Huge Kitchen Garden with Deer Fence

If you're wondering how to keep deer out of your garden, take a note from this kitchen garden grande. This garden space was designed and executed by our fabulous team member Monica for our client Frank in Houston back in 2019.

Here’s to going big in the garden this season. If you need me, I'll be hanging out on these benches, in my happy place.

Ready to create your own Before and After?

Kitchen Garden Academy

Inside Kitchen Garden Academy, you'll learn all you need to know to create your own before and after for your kitchen garden design. This eight-module course guides you by the hand to create the garden of your dreams.

Before and After a four garden classic designed by Nicole Burke of Rooted Garden in Houston Texas

Four Garden Classic Kitchen Garden Designed for a Square Space

Pictured here was my first large kitchen garden to install way back in the spring of 2016. The client, Lori, trusted me and Rooted Garden with her entire side yard. And if you think I felt nervous, you’re thinking right.

But when I asked my client for a testimony a few months after the install, she said, “This was the most meaningful home improvement project I’ve ever done.”

Her words helped me see the garden in a new light—not just a place to “cheaply grow food” but also an extension of the home, an investment in a place to enjoy your home in a new way. 

It’s true: a kitchen garden like this isn’t cheap. But I would love to propose a new way for us to start viewing the garden: as a meaningful home improvement. Whatever investment you can make, it will be worth every last penny. 

April to August in a Houston kitchen garden designed by Nicole Burke owner of Rooted Garden

Large Kitchen Garden in a Rectangular Space

This #beforeandafter is brought to you by the sunshine. 

I set up this kitchen garden in my first spring with Rooted Garden in 2016, and it had a rare thing for Houston urban plots: full sun all day long. 

After adding magic compost and local plants, this space took off and fast, so fast that our cattle panel trellises flopped mid season under the weight of all that growth. Once these vines died back, we replaced the panels with stronger metal arch trellises that could handle all this growth. 

I can remember the days of arriving to tend this garden and being amazed every time I returned to see how much it had changed. The dynamic nature of a kitchen garden is one of the reasons I adore it so much. Trees and bushes are nice, but the daily changes in a kitchen garden keep me coming back to see what’s changed from the day before (kinda like social media, but you can eat it).

If you’ve never watched a food plant grow with your own eyes, you’ve just gotta try it this spring. Start with arugula seed. And if you can, be sure to include a lot of sunlight.

Shop Gardenary Arch Trellises
beautiful kitchen garden design

Backyard Garden Retreat

This four-garden classic I got to create back in 2017 is still one of my favorites. Marnie, a mom of four, was looking for a way to create a retreat in her backyard, and I think we made that happen. This kitchen garden was designed to make the most of the backyard’s sunlight and be right outside the kitchen window and back door.

I used four 4’ x 8’ cedar beds and two of our modern arch trellises. We added stepping stones to make the garden space accessible for Marnie and her kids in their bare feet.

Don’t forget that paradise can be closer than you think!

Find this kitchen garden design (and lots more) in my book Kitchen Garden Revival.

Before and After kitchen garden installation in West University Place by Rooted Garden

Four Garden Classic with a Modern Arch Trellis

This garden came about thanks to my neck needing adjustment—seriously! My chiropractor, Dr. Long, called and asked me to create a kitchen garden for her backyard. 

This project produced unbelievable results thanks to her ability to see the end goal and allow me to do whatever I needed to reach it.

Tree trimming for extra light? Yes.

New fence? Yes.

Large raised garden beds? Yes.

Espaliered citrus trees? Yes.

Creative trellises? Yes, please.

Afterward, she said, "We cannot decide who is the happiest person in the family about the garden. Our neighbors love coming over to see what has happened to the backyard. We're so delighted!"

So what's your garden dream this year?

Shop This Look

This arch is, hand downs, our most asked-about arch on social media!

All of our arches are made with graceful curves of tubular steel in powder coated black.

Small space before and after

Twin Garden Beds in a Small Space

There’s always room for a kitchen garden. At least I think so.

Many of our Rooted Garden clients live in the middle of the city of Houston and don’t have a lot of space or optimal sunlight for gardening. But that doesn’t mean there’s not room to garden.

Lettuces and herbs can keep on going in lower light spaces and you can cut from them again and again. So no more saying "there’s no room for a garden" or "there's not enough light."

Many thanks to Mary Rebecca for trusting us with this space way back in 2017.

Twin Garden Before and After

Cedar Raised Beds with Trellis

In 2019, we had the privilege of transforming this space for our great client, who just happens to be a Nicole too. She was a little nervous about gardening at first but decided to go for it.

Some of my favorite texts that same year were pics of Nicole and her daughters planting carrots and harvesting from the garden throughout the seasons.

I challenge everyone to take one step toward their garden goals each day, no matter what. Progress may feel slow but big things will happen before the end of season—trust me.

Huge thanks to Nicole for gardening with us. We love that you went for it and let us make it happen for you.

Border Garden Before and After

Border Garden Along Fence

When I first started designing garden beds along existing structures like driveways, fences, and homes, I called them "fence gardens" (because "driveway gardens" just doesn't have a ring to it). Eventually I settled on the more-inclusive term "border gardens."

And this one was a pleasure to design. That fence wasn't much to look at before, but now it's a backdrop for a thriving kitchen garden, citrus tree and all!

Monday to Friday Garden Creation Before and After

U-Shaped Garden in Tight Space

When the week worked out just about perfectly... (The only reason we skipped Thursday was because of heavy rain.) Thanks to Monica, Lance, and Chuy for this Rooted Garden makeover.

This space, created a few springs ago, has even been blessed by the butterflies!

And it's your call to action that if you have an awkward space where weeds are growing, that's just proof that plants want to grow there. They might as well be plants you want to eat!

Corten Steel Formal Potager Before and After

Corten Steel Formal Potager

This family of seven is going big with a full kitchen garden, fruit trees, chickens, goats, and all the things that create a complete outdoor experience.

It was such a treat to create this large growing space for them. Like other formal potagers designed for Rooted Garden, this one features four L-shaped raised beds around a central focal point, and the effect that’s created feels like you’re inside a maze or a special enclosure. Potagers can make even large outdoor spaces like this one feel intimate.

(Learn more about formal potagers.)

Tour This Large Potager

Ready for Your Own Kitchen Garden Before and After?

Some of the biggest objections I get to the kitchen gardens I post on social media include:


"All I see is $$$"

"You could’ve done it cheaper."

It's totally okay to invest money in a beautiful edible garden. We invest in our homes all the time—new furniture, new appliances, new rooms, new paint, and outdoor spaces like patios, pools, pergolas, etc. I see kitchen gardens the same way: an investment in my favorite room in the house. We all spend our money in different ways.

And if you wanna make your kitchen garden the most beautiful spot on your property, I’m here to inspire you and show you how.

Want to be sure you spend your kitchen garden investment wisely?

We’d love to help! 

Before and After kitchen garden transformations by Gardenary, Inc.