A raised garden bed refers to a vertically mounted frame filled with high-quality planting soil. Raised garden beds are usually open on both sides.
Note that these gardens do not have to incorporate boxes or frames. They can simply be a heap of well sieved soil (about 6 to 8 inches high) specially designed for planting purposes.
Unlike standard gardens or cage garden, raised gardens are relatively simple to maintain and are perfect for small spaces.
But how do you grow a raised garden bed?
A detailed procedure of growing a raised garden bed
Step one: Preparing the site
The first thing to do is prepare the site. The technique you use to prepare the location often depends on your requirements.
You can choose to dig the area, but this is not compulsory. If you want to use the ‘no-dig’ method, you can follow the procedure below.
- Get rid of weeds and unwanted plants that surround your chosen location. This means the right gardening tools ready.
- Next, spread cardboard across the area. Leave the cardboard to decompose into the soil; this might take a few days. It would be best to overlap the cardboard. Doing this prevents the weeds from forming around the raised garden bed area.
- Then, add compost to the soil when filling the raised garden bed. Ensure the raised garden bed is approximately 6 to 8 inches.
Step two: Get the necessary equipment
Once you prepare the site, get the following materials:
- Deck screws.
- Drill or screwdrivers
- Cedar boards measuring two by 6 inches.
- Pine stakes measuring 3 feet long.
- Tape measure
- Hand saw
Step three: Create the sides of the raised garden bed
Start by making the bedsides. If the boards you have are not yet cut, cut them into halves. Once you have four planks, you can proceed to the next step.
Note that the planks should complement a four by four foot bed. Join the planks to form a square layout.
Then, use screws to connect the four joints. Use a drill to create two holes at the end of each hole. The drill bit should make narrower holes compared to the screws. Then, position the holes correspondingly.
Step four: Assemble the Raised Bed
After joining the planks, it’s now time to assemble the raised grow bed. The first step would be to lay down all the beds in such a way that the end of the planks overlaps each other.
The overlapping ends should have pilot holes. Join the walls using screws and ensure the walls are firmly held to each other. Remember, you want a steady bed that withstands harsh climatic conditions.
Step five: Fill the raised garden
Once your bed is secure and firm on the ground, fill it using a rich compost mix. Then, cover the compost mix with high-quality planting soil.
Leave the soil to settle. At this stage, consider watering the soil to make it settle quickly. You can also top the soil with compost.
How do you fill a raised bed cheaply?
If you plan to construct a raised garden, there are many ways you can fill your bed without spending lots of money.
Some of these ways include:
You can fill a raised garden bed by building a lasagna garden. Constructing a lasagna garden requires you to start placing cardboard on the surface.
Choose large cardboard that overlaps the bed to foster the smothering of grass.
Then, spread leaves on top of the cardboard and add an extra layer of cardboard at the top. Doing this creates the perfect starting compost for growing your plants.
Contrary to popular belief, core gardening is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is create a sponge in the middle of the raised bed.
The sponge should be responsible for absorbing and releasing moisture from the soil.
Core gardening helps you prevent the growth of weeds since the surface of the raised garden bed will be free from moisture. And this makes it difficult for weeds to grow.
Moreover, when the soil is dry, plant roots will work harder to look for water; in turn, they will grow stronger and healthier.
The sponge will also hold water in dry seasons. Subsequently, it acts as a constant supply of water all year round.
Using peat moss is also a cheap way to fill a raised garden bed. However, note that you’ll have to purchase peat moss from a reliable gardener.
Peat moss has a low pH. Thus, only plants that thrive in acidic conditions will benefit from peat moss. Some of these plants include tomatoes, strawberries, and peppers.
Using compost to fill a raised garden bed is budget-friendly. But you’ll have to prepare compost beforehand.
Ensure you have aged compost from animal manure and kitchen scraps to fill your raised garden bed. You can also add other organic matter to add more nutrients to the soil.
Today, there is a wide range of information regarding compost on the internet. So, always conduct thorough research on the best materials to use for your compost.
You can also use animal waste to fill a raised garden bed. Gardening experts discourage using fresh manure.
It would be best to use old manure that comes from sheep, goats, and cows. Waste from dogs, humans, or cats does not benefit plants.
Also, when using manure, you need to be patient. Give the manure some time to disintegrate. Avoid planting immediately after you apply manure.
Do I need to line my raised garden bed?
Lining a raised garden bed offers both advantages and disadvantages. However, more often than not, the benefits usually outweigh the drawbacks.
So, yes, it is essential to line a raised garden bed. Let’s look at some of the benefits of lining a raised garden bed.
Safeguards the soil from constant temperature fluctuations
Usually, raised garden beds are sensitive to temperature. Remember, the soil is usually raised to about 6 to 8 inches high.
Therefore, it tends to lose and gain heat faster compared to the soil on the ground.
A liner will protect the bed from reacting to temperature fluctuations. Consequently, this prevents your plants from damage.
Prevents pest attacks
Lining your bed is a great way to keep pests away. Once you line the sides and the bottom of the raised bed, pests won’t be able to make their way through to the garden.
Nonetheless, note that you will require a strong liner. Pests like moles might be able to make their way through if the liner is thin.
Stop the growth of unwanted plants
Liners protect your plants from weeds. Raised garden beds are more vulnerable to weeds, especially those that don’t have a bottom.
A liner will act as a barrier that hinders the growth of weeds into the garden bed. Consider using either fabric or plastic liners.
Retain nutrients in the soil and facilitate proper drainage
Raised garden beds with no bottom are more susceptible to destruction. Heavy rain can wash away the soil thoroughly.
Subsequently, the soil will lose nutrients and organic material. Installing liners on your raised garden beds will keep the soil intact and drain excess moisture.
Consider using absorbent materials to line your beds so that you can retain your soil nutrients.
Stops chemical leaching in the soil
Liners on raised garden beds prevent chemicals from leaching into the soil. In particular, if you build your raised garden bed using railroad tires or pressure-treated wood, liners will help you.
These materials have chemicals that often leak into your garden. Liners can help you prevent this.
Disadvantages of Lining a Raised Garden Bed
Lining raised garden walls also carries several disadvantages. They include:
- More often than not, liners are watertight and airtight. Therefore, they hinder proper soil drainage. And this affects plant growth.
- Liners are susceptible to damage. You can easily ruin them when digging or adding soil to your raised garden bed.
- When replacing the liner, you need to transfer all the soil to a different location. Undoubtedly, this consumes a lot of time and effort.
- At times, liners lead to wood rotting. They make wood come in contact with water more frequently, which damages the wood.
Ultimately, before lining your raised garden bed, always weigh the benefits and drawbacks.
What direction should a raised garden bed face?
Building a raised garden requires you to adhere to specific guidelines. This way, you’ll be able to promote healthy growth for your plants. But which direction should a raised garden bed face? Usually, a north-south orientation works best for these beds.
It helps all your crops to receive sufficient sunlight throughout the day. A north-south orientation allows sunlight to reach all areas of the raised garden bed. Additionally, if you want to obtain a plentiful harvest, avoid positioning your plants in square patterns or rows. It would be best if you plant in triangles.
Doing this allows you to make maximum use of your space. Subsequently, you’d be able to grow more plants. Nonetheless, avoid placing your plants too close to each other. Give your plants sufficient room to grow.
Other tips for growing a raised garden bed
- Your garden bed should be four by 4 feet. You should be able to reach the middle of the raised garden bed without standing on it.
- Ensure the location of the garden receives maximum sunlight for approximately six to eight hours a day.
- It would be best to create your starting mix to provide the proper nutrients for your plants. Alternatively, purchase high-quality potting mix from seedling manufacturers. An example of a quality potting mix you can buy is Wilson’s potting mix.
- If you are planting taller plants on your raised garden bed, consider incorporating an east-west orientation instead of a north-south direction.
- Give your plants enough room to grow. Avoid using small intervals for spacing.
- Maintain your raised garden bed well. Keep watering and feeding the plants with the proper nutrients. Incorporate all the right practices to prevent pest and disease attacks.
Should I put rocks in the bottom of my raised garden bed?
As seen earlier, raised garden beds offer several benefits. Adding rocks to the bottom of your raised garden makes them function even better. Below are some of the advantages of putting rocks at the bottom of your raised garden bed.
Proper drainage in rainy seasons
Typically, raised garden beds facilitate proper soil drainage. But putting rocks at the bottom makes them function better. Remember, when the soil contains excess moisture, your plants will likely suffer from root rot.
A layer of rocks at the bottom of your raised garden eliminates excess water from the soil. Also, rocks do not decompose over time.
What type of rock do you use for your garden bed?
Consider using crushed rock or pea gravel to layer your raised garden bed. You can get this material from rock yards.
Often, you’ll have to buy pea gravel and crushed rock. But you need not worry; these materials are not expensive. They offer value for money in the long run, since they keep your raised garden bed in good shape.
How do you install rocks in a raised garden bed?
After you construct a raised garden bed, spread drainage rocks across the lower surface of the garden. It would be best to spread the rocks using your hand. Pour them out on the surface using medium-sized buckets. This way, you’ll make sure the layers are even.
Continue spreading the rocks until you obtain a depth of approximately two to three inches. Afterwards, spread high-quality soil over the rocks.
Should you water plants when using drainage rocks?
Don’t stop watering your plants after you place the drainage rocks. It is essential that you keep watering your plants as usual. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you follow all the guidelines when planting.
Start your small raised garden
From this article, it is clear to see that raised garden beds consume less time and effort during planting. Raised garden beds are simple to grow and maintain. Besides, they are budget-friendly and enable you to grow almost any plant type.
Nonetheless, you have to take good care of your garden to promote healthy plant growth.