How to Grow: Raised Beds

How to Grow raised beds Raised beds have become a popular way to garden. They have many advantages to regular, in-ground beds. Raised beds warm up faster in spring, drain water better, and allow you to plant more intensively. They are easier to weed, fertilize, and water and you get more production from your vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Here some simple steps to making a raised bed.

  1. Mow it Down- Mow or cut down the grass or weeds in this area. The reason you won’t be stripping the sod or digging out weeds is there is a natural layer of rich soil just below the surface of most sites. By simply cutting the greenery back and burying the ground with compost or organic materials, you will preserve this natural fertilizer for your plants to use. Plus, this means less work and is a great example of how to save your back.
  2. Choose Wooden Materials- Select rot-resistant woods, such as cedar, redwood, and cypress, to build your raised beds. These woods can last up to 20 years before rotting. Soft woods, such as pine, will last only 5 to 10 years.
  3. Choose Other Materials- Recycled composite woods, plastic lumber, bricks, cement blocks, stones, and metal are also long lasting options for constructing a raised bed. Metal beds placed in full sun can heat up the soil quickly, and sometimes too much. These beds should be placed in a part shade location in warm areas or only used in cool summer climates with heat loving vegetables and flowers.
  4. Choose Your Size Bed- Beds can be square, rectangular, triangular, or even circular shaped. It’s all about your site and your desire for aesthetics. They should at least be 6- to 8-inches tall. To reduce bending and to keep small animals out of your beds, build them three feet or so tall. The beds can be as long as you like. Construct the garden so you’ll never have to walk on the bed and compact the soil. This means making sure the beds, rows, or garden is no wider than 3 or 4 feet. This distance will allow you to reach into the center of each bed or row without having to step on the soil. Also, think of any garden accessories, such as wheelbarrow or garden carts, you might want to use to move materials to the beds. Make the pathways wide enough to accommodate them.
  5. Construction- If building the bed from wood, use 2-inch diameter thickness wood, if available, for longest life. Use 2 by 2 inch diameter posts in the corners to help prevent the wood from bowing. Make the corner posts a little taller than the beds so you can cut the bottoms to a point. Pound these bottoms into the ground. You can also use metal corner brackets to secure the boards. These allow you to slip the wood into the corners without having to screw or nail boards together. It makes it easier to move the bed in the future without damaging the wood and the metal helps keep the boards straight.
  6. Accessories– If tunneling ground hogs, gophers, and rodents are a problem in your area, attach heavy duty hardware cloth to the bottom of the wooden frame. Add hardware cloth up the sides of the bed, as well, if using stones, bricks, or cement blocks.
  7. Filling the Bed- What soil, compost and organic materials you put in the bed is a matter of preference. Some no-dig beds are solely made from finished compost, so load the soil on the bed and you’re ready to grow. You also can use a variety of organic materials to build a tall raised bed, alla lasagna gardening. Some of these will take time to decompose and be planting ready. And, of course, there are many types variations in between these techniques.

Purchase my Webinar on No-Dig and Raised bed Gardening here.

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