Are you ready to learn how to build raised garden beds? You’ll find the best tips and tricks here!
Raised garden beds are one of the most popular garden options available. Raised garden beds can be easily built (or assembled) and easy to maintain making them a great option for old and new gardeners alike.
Benefits of raised garden beds
Raised garden beds have a lot of benefits that make them a great option for gardeners.
Raised garden beds give you full control over the soil your food is planted in. This allows you to adjust the nutrients, work around clay or sandy soil in your yard, and prevent clumps and aeration issues that are common with in-ground garden beds. Raised garden beds can be protected from the bottom to prevent issues from burrowing animals and reduce weed growth.
Raised garden beds can be built lower to the ground or as high as you’d like. These are excellent for those of us with physical limitations or just getting older. However, the higher the bed doesn’t necessarily mean the better for your posture. Keep in mind that the majority of plants grow up. The last thing you want is to be on a ladder pruning a tomato plant or picking peppers.
Raised garden beds are easy to organize, which makes them another popular option when taking advantage of square foot gardening.
How to Build Raised Garden Beds
When building your raised garden bed, you need to consider the same information as you would with other gardening styles. You want to ensure you choose a space that has access to plenty of sun to help your plants thrive.
Choose a height for your garden beds
One of the best parts about building your own garden beds is that you can choose the height that is right for you. Shallow growing plants can be close to the ground without an issue, whereas tomatoes need a taller garden bed to give them plenty of room to grow deep roots.
If you have back or knee issues, a raised garden bed that is at the right height for you to remain standing is a great way to remain active in your gardening hobby even as limitations become an issue. Higher raised garden beds can also help prevent rabbits, moles, groundhogs, and other vermin from snacking on your fruits and vegetables.
Types of wood for your raised garden beds
The wood must be safe to use with not only your food crops, but also your soil. The last thing you want is for your plants to be contaminated with chemically treated wood, or wood containing parasites. For this reason, you want to avoid chemically treated wood for your garden beds.
A great option when building garden beds is to use cedar wood that is naturally moist and pest-resistant.
Other wood options are redwood, pine, cypress, and spruce. All are resistant to pests and water damage. These can handle sitting directly on the ground without issues for several years.
If you opt to use reclaimed or wood that may be treated and unsafe for your garden beds you can opt to line your garden beds with food-safe plastic to help prevent chemicals from leaching into your garden soil.
Wood is too expensive. What is another option for raised beds?
After the COVID pandemic, the price of wood has skyrocketed. Our plan was to build raised garden beds using wood and tin sheet metal. Since the cost of wood has tripled in a year (an untreated 8ft 2×4 is $10 per board in 2021), we decided to build our beds using cinder blocks.
We dug out about 4 inches into the ground, leveled it out, and layed gravel down. The gravel has multiple purposes. It acts as a barrier to keep out weeds. It also acts as a deterrent to vermin who like to tunnel their way underground. The rocks also help to retain moisture in the soil.
The next thing we did was a great addition to the beds or could go awfully wrong. However, as my husband says, “The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” We decided to take the limbs from a felled tree and put them through the wood chipper.
We then took the wood chips and layered them on the gravel as a base for the raised beds.
Remember when I said this decision was questionable? Depending on the source you research, the wood chips used as a base could remove valuable nitrogen from the soil. Plants need nitrogen in the soil to thrive. My husband went back and forth on the decision for days. Rather than become a flattened squirrel, we went with it. So far, so good. Our garden is thriving.
Hold your garden beds together.
If you’re building your beds with wood, there are many great ways to build connections for your garden beds. While you could just screw them together with deck screws this can lead to broken garden beds if the soil becomes too heavy on the sides in heavy rain.
Instead, you can build a base for each corner using a woodblock or purchase end connectors for raised garden beds like Oldcastle planter wall blocks.
Because we built our raised beds using cinder blocks, the blocks interlock. The added soil, especially in the cinder block holes, keeps the blocks from toppling over.
How to Build Raised Garden Beds and protect them
Raised garden beds are great for dealing with pests that may be eating your garden from the ground up. Switching to raised garden beds allows you to line the bottom of the beds to keep out animals and keep contaminated topsoil away from your plants depending on what protection you build directly into your garden beds.
Lining the garden bed with food-safe plastic allows you to grow a garden bed that is safe for your plants even if you live where the soil may be contaminated. Be sure to build your beds a bit taller and add rocks to the bottom to aid in drainage if you choose to line your beds with plastic that will prevent water from draining.
We didn’t line our beds with plastic. However, we did add a weed barrier underneath the cinder blocks. Our beds are approximately 4ft by 8ft. As I mentioned earlier, we dug out about 4 inches deep and added gravel. The cinder blocks line the outside of the 4-inch deep hole.
If you have issues with animals digging below the ground, you can opt to use chicken wire attached to the bottom of your garden beds to make a pest-proof garden bed that prevents animals from digging up, eating, and damaging your plants from the underside.
Likewise raised garden beds tend to lend themselves for easy poaching from wild animals such as deer, rabbits, or other large animals looking for a free meal at your expense. Fencing helps keep these poachers away. We used no-dig fencing we purchased from Menards. Easy to set up and does what it is intended to do – protect my plants.
Here’s a picture of our guinea pig who recently passed away. She was a Peruvian Guinea Pig – hence the long hair. She loved coming outside to the garden with me when it wasn’t too hot. Her favorite things were dandelions. We sure do miss her.
Filling your garden beds
When filling your raised garden beds, you have complete control of what goes into your garden soil. This allows you to build the best soil for your plants and easily mix in fresh compost.
For deeper garden beds that have been raised enough to reach without bending over, you can fill the bottom of your garden beds with food-safe bottles and jugs as well as rocks and gravel.
This will add great drainage while blocking off the bottom half of garden beds allowing you to fill them with less soil and lowering the overall cost of your tall, raised garden beds.
If you decide to go the cinder block route, all you need to do is add the soil. Depending on the size of your bed (length x width x depth) will determine how much soil you’ll need. i am pretty good about figuring this all in my head, I guess my Daddy taught me well after all.
Make sure you don’t go with just any run-of-the-mill soil. Any successful farmer or gardener will tell you the richness of the soil is key to producing crops.
Adding fencing around your garden bed
Like we mentioned before you’re going to want to add fencing around the garden bed area but like we said too, don’t worry about it being a lot of work. It is so easy to add fencing that is pretty quick to set up and use, as shown below!
As mentioned earlier, we decided to use a no-dig fence. Easy to set up.
Now that you know how to build raised garden beds, what are you waiting for? Have a blast growing your own garden at home! Don’t forget to download our garden planner by clicking the picture below….
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