Every good harvest starts with planting. Squash is a popular and easy-to-grow vegetable with tons of varieties that can be planted in either spring or late summer.
They have a reputation as maintenance-intensive veggies that are difficult to grow, but they aren’t as tough as most people make them out to be.
One important factor that is essential for growing healthy and well-developed squash is spacing. Too close, and your squash will compete with each other and even suffer from disease or other issues.
So, how far apart should you plant your squash?
Squash should be planted 15 to 20 inches (38 to 50 centimeters) apart in rows 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart. Some vining types may require more space. If you’re planting in hills, the general rule is to have hills spaced out around 7 feet (2meters) apart.
Squash are some of my favorite veggies since there is a variety for every occasion, and they can be enjoyed all year round. Need a sweet filling for a pie? Look no further than butternut squash.
Need something to keep late summer dinners interesting? Growing zucchini is the answer.
With a little bit of planning, you’ll be able to enjoy a fresh bounty of squash throughout the growing season, but to do that we have to nail the spacing. I’ll tell you more in this article…
Why Squash Spacing is Important
Spacing squash correctly when planting is important for several reasons. Like all plants, squash plants require plenty of room to grow and spread out.
If plants are overcrowded, they may compete for water and nutrients which can result in poor growth and lower yields.
Some vining varieties of squash in particular can get huge, and starting them too close together is a great way to see them turn into one tangled mess of stunted fruits.
Additionally, overcrowded plants are more prone to disease and pest infestations. This is because physical contact or just near-contact distances will allow direct transmission of disease from one plant to another.
This factor, more than most, is what is responsible for infestations and outbreaks wiping out whole crops- squash included.
Proper spacing also helps ensure good air circulation around the plants. This is critical for preventing moisture buildup and reducing the risk of fungal diseases which pop up whenever leaves, stems and vines are damp.
Spacing your plants correctly can also make it easier to tend to them and harvest the squash as they mature.
How Far Apart Should You Space Squash Rows?
This depends on the variety and the type. Generally, most varieties of summer squash should be spaced about 15 to 17 inches (38 – 50 centimeters) apart in rows 6 feet (1.8 meters) apart from each other.
For winter squash, you may need a bit more room. Opt for 17 to 20 inches (43 to 50 centimeters) between plants, and rows might need to be closer to 7 feet (2.1 meters) apart.
If planting in hills, space out the hills around 7 feet (2.1 meters) apart. This will give each hill plenty of room to develop plants completely, and give you enough space to work around them.
Do Different Squash Varieties Require Different Spacing?
Yes. There is considerable variety even within the two main categories of squash. Some summer squash varieties are more compact and can be planted closer than the 15 to 17 inch recommended spacing.
Miniature and bush varieties, for instance, may only need 12 to 14 inches between plants.
On the other hand, some types of winter squash like spaghetti squash do well when spaced further apart. Try 20 inches or even more between these varieties.
There are exceptions depending on your property and garden setup: If you have a large space, but smaller squashes, you may be able to plant multiple hills in the same row with only 2-3 feet between them and still get good results. This will work mostly for small winter squash like acorn or delicata.
What Happens if You Plant Squash Too Close Together?
Planting squash too close together almost always leads to negative consequences. One of the main issues is that overcrowding can result in competition for resources like water, nutrients, and sunlight.
This can lead to stunted plant growth overall, reduced yields, poor quality fruit and even failure to fruit at all.
Overcrowding can also result in physical damage to the plants. As squash plants grow, their leaves and vines can become entangled with neighboring plants and this can cause damage on its own, and increase the likelihood that you will damage them when tending to them.
Now, some squash types are more tolerant of crowding than others, and a few gardeners even prefer these close-order plantings.
Your squash might still be fine with diligent care, but you’ll have a harder time tending to them at best.
Other Spacing Requirements for Planting Squash in Ground
As mentioned above, if you are using the hill method for your squash the spacing requirements will change a bit no matter what kind of squash you are planting.
The hill method of planting squash is a common technique used to promote healthy growth and maximize yields.
To use this method, gardeners typically prepare a mound of soil in which to plant groups of squash seeds or seedlings.
It works well and has many advantages, but you will need to leave plenty of room between hills; at least 7 feet, probably more.
Spacing Requirements for Planting Squash in Containers
Most containers aren’t suitable for growing squash unless they are quite large, but assuming you have one and want to try it, you should only plant a single squash plant in each pot.
To ensure healthy growth and good yields, you’ll want to pick containers that are at least 18 inches wide and 15-20 inches deep. Keep containers spaced out according to the guidelines above.
Spacing Requirements for Planting Squash in Raised Beds
Raised beds can be a good option for growing your squash. Whatever kind of raised beds you have, simply plant your squash as you would in the ground: 15 to 20 inches apart for individual plants and 6 feet or a little more between beds.
Is Squash Suitable for Square Foot Gardening?
Yes, but you must still pay attention to the spacing requirements. Squash varieties that do well in square gardening are generally bush and mini types, which only need 12 to 14 inches between plants.
With larger winter squash types, however, you may want to give them a bit more space and only plant one or two per box.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.