Guide to Raised Garden Beds

Raised garden beds aren’t just nice to look at, they also serve several important purposes. A bed that’s raised off the ground will have better drainage, warm up quicker in the spring, provide easier access for planting and weeding, keep soil from compacting and protect the garden from encroaching grass.

These gardens are perfect for both experienced gardeners and newbie horticulturalists, because they allow you to better control planting conditions. Fortunately, adding raised garden beds to your landscaping is easy to do. Here’s how!

Raised Garden Bed

What You’ll Need to Build a Raised Garden Bed

Creating a raised garden bed is an easy DIY project that can be done in a few hours with a little preparation beforehand. The two main components of a raised garden bed are soil and a border to keep it all contained.

Garden Bed Soil – The soil you use depends on what you want to grow. Unlike planting straight in the ground, in a raised garden bed you’ll be adding soil so you’ll have more selection right from the start. Many gardeners suggest using a mixture that is two parts soil and one part compost to achieve the best growing conditions.

Garden Bed Border – There are no rules for what you can use to create a border around your raised garden bed. However, there are some best practices that should be followed. Most importantly is keeping the bed to a manageable size. A good dimension to shoot for is 4’x8’ or smaller. How high the bed can be built up will also depend on the border. A good height to aim for is 1-2’ from the ground.

Once you’ve got the dimensions of your bed figured out, it’s time to prep the area. Mark off the border with a chalk line then dig out the grass and weeds where the bed will be. Get everything leveled out then lay down a layer of landscaping fabric. Now you’re all set to installed the border and add your soil.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Building a Raised Garden Bed

Do Be Creative with Your Border – No one says you have to use standard 2x4s to create garden bed borders. Be unconventional by using materials like logs, rocks, concrete blocks or even sandbags.

Do Make Sure the Border Allows for Drainage – If you use a solid siding, like wood planks, take steps to provide adequate drainage on the sides.

Do Add a Metal Mesh Layer Before Adding Soil – If you’re concerned about burrowing pests, like moles or gophers lay down galvanized or steel metal mesh after prepping the ground.

Do Use Stainless or Galvanized Hardware on the Border

Do Build on the Most Level Ground Possible

Don’t Build Beds Closer Than 18” Apart

Don’t Use Wood with Toxins for Your Border – If you’re growing edibles this will compromise the quality. Cedar and redwood are good wood options that can go au naturel.

If you’re a DIYer looking for an outdoor project this spring a raised garden bed is a great option. In an afternoon you can add to your landscaping in a creative way and enjoy fresh fruits, veggies and flowers well into the summer.

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