Constructing a Raised Garden Bed

As spring approaches, your garden plans are probably well under way! This year, if you’re looking to have an easier method of gardening, you should use a raised garden bed! Gardeners all over have taken advantage of the benefits of raised garden beds. Laurel from Park Landscaping has provided this how-to guide for building your own raised garden bed!

Reasons to Have a Raised Garden Bed

  • Raised beds have better drainage because the soil used is hand picked. If you get a soil that does not have too much clay or sand, the proper loam texture will allow water to flow easily throughout the bed.
  • Raised Garden beds have less compaction. With the proper sized bed, you will not need to ever walk on the soil. This is good because it will allow the airspace in the soil to be as it was when it was first laid.
  • Problem areas no longer exist.  As mentioned before, you can choose the soil you put in a raised garden bed. This solves the problem of soil too rich in clay or sand, which would normally inhibit the growth of the plants in the ground.
  • When built properly, these raised garden beds can deter pests and keep weeds from overtaking the entire garden bed.  You’ll learn more about how this works later in the article.
  • The soil in raised garden beds heats up faster than if it were on the ground. Solar heating by sun exposure, air circulation, and better drainage helps heat up the soil’s winter chill faster.

How to Build the Garden Bed

Constructing a raised garden bed is quite simple. You’ll first need to clear the area where you’re going to build the garden bed.

Next, outline the dimensions you want. Four feet is a good width because you can reach across from both sides. After you have the dimensions set, dig down the width of one piece of lumber you’re using. For example, if you’re using 2×6’s, you’ll want to dig down 2-3 inches to secure the first board and also the corner posts. Ideally, you will use two 2×6’s for the height. The ideal height for a raised garden is about 9-10 inches, but this is an approximate measurement. Digging down will help secure the walls and also aid in drainage.  Use a 16 inch post on each corner inside the bed  to secure the 2×6’s in place. The 2×6 pieces of lumber can be screwed into the post with 3 ½ inch screws.

There are a few things you can do to help with the drainage. You can drill weep holes at the base of the wood on the part of the board that is being buried. If you don’t drill any holes, you should spread pea gravel or coarse stone at the bottom to help with drainage. Landscape fabric at the bottom of the box will help in drainage and will also serve as a weed barrier. This fabric also serves as a shield to burrowing pests such as voles, gophers, and moles.

Once the frame for your garden is completely built, you can fill it with the soil of your choice. If you have access to composted manure, that will make a nice first layer of file as will straw or shredded leaves and they’ll all attract earthworms. Remember, the whole point of gardening in a raised bed is the ability to work with plants in perfect soil conditions.  Once the soil has settled for a few days and leveled, you can plant the plants you want!

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